My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

The marsh wren (Cistothorus palustris) is a small North American songbird of the wren family. It is sometimes called long-billed marsh wren to distinguish it from the sedge wren, also known as short-billed marsh wren.

Adults have brown upperparts with a light brown belly and flanks and a white throat and breast. The back is black with white stripes. They have a dark cap with a white line over the eyes and a short thin bill.

The male’s song is a loud gurgle used to declare ownership of territory, western males have a more varied repertoire.

Their breeding habitat is marshes with tall vegetation such as cattails across North America. In the western United States, some birds are permanent residents. Other birds migrate to marshes and salt marshes in the southern United States and Mexico.

These birds forage actively in vegetation, sometimes flying up to catch insects in flight. They mainly eat insects, also spiders and snails.

The nest is an oval lump attached to marsh vegetation, entered from the side. The clutch is normally four to six eggs, though the number can range from three to ten. The male builds many unused nests in his territory. He may puncture the eggs and fatally peck the nestlings of other birds nesting nearby, including his own species (even his own offspring) and red-winged blackbirds, yellow-headed blackbirds, and least bitterns.

This bird is still common, although its numbers have declined with the loss of suitable wetland habitat. Wholesale draining of marshes will lead to local extinction.

 

On to my photos:

These photos were shot at the area known as Lane’s Landing along the Muskegon River back in August of 2014. I think that this species ranks as one of the ones that I worked the hardest at to get photos of. They are a small bird that never stops moving, and never ventures out of the reeds and cattails of the marshes in which they live, as you’ll be able to tell from the photos.

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

 

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

 

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

 

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

 

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

 

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

 

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

 

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

These next two were shot at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve during the fall of 2015.

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

 

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

Marsh Wren, Cistothorus palustris

 

This is number 192 in my photo life list, only 158 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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20 responses

  1. Awl done for persevering and getting such excellent photographs, you must be pleased.

    April 3, 2016 at 4:36 am

    • Thank you very much Susan! While I wish that the photos had been better, I was very happy to get any of this species at all, since they do stay well hidden the majority of the time.

      April 3, 2016 at 5:09 am

  2. The bird has fascinating perching skills!

    April 3, 2016 at 6:56 am

    • Thank you Bob, it certainly does!

      April 3, 2016 at 8:33 am

  3. I can see how challenging it was for you to take these photos. I would have never seen these birds among the reeds, let alone take a picture of them.

    April 3, 2016 at 7:43 am

    • Thank you very much! They are hard to see, luckily, as with most wrens, the males sing all the time to let you know where they are.

      April 3, 2016 at 8:34 am

  4. He’s quite the acrobat. Great shots!

    April 3, 2016 at 8:16 am

    • Thank you very much Belinda!

      April 3, 2016 at 8:34 am

  5. Acrobatic little thing, isn’t it?

    April 3, 2016 at 10:10 am

    • Thanks Allen! Acrobatic doesn’t begin to describe them, perpetual motion is a big part of their personality as well.

      April 3, 2016 at 7:38 pm

  6. Probably the first and last time I’ll ever see a bird do the splits. Easy to see why this was a difficult bird to photograph.

    April 3, 2016 at 11:05 am

    • Thank you Judy! You may be right about birds doing the splits, unless I run into another one of these.

      April 3, 2016 at 7:39 pm

  7. Interesting bird

    April 3, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      April 3, 2016 at 7:40 pm

  8. Beautiful photos, Jerry! The wren is certainly quite adept at hanging on with legs splayed sideways.

    April 4, 2016 at 1:18 am

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! Even if they are hard to get a photo of, it’s fun watching the wrens as they move effortlessly through the thick vegetation.

      April 4, 2016 at 2:59 am

  9. Just getting a good view of a marsh wren is difficult because they are so quick in and out of the reeds. Usually I am satisfied to stand by the water’s edge and listen to them and see a fleeting glimpse. I can indeed imagine how hard you worked to get these wonderful photos!

    April 4, 2016 at 10:43 am

    • Thank you very much Jet! The wren family is all the same, every species never stops moving, and they stay in the thickest vegetation that they can find.

      April 4, 2016 at 1:41 pm

  10. A gymnast and a gurgling song- what a character! Fantastic photos- can’t imagine how you shot them – you must have been a bit of a gymnast yourself!

    April 4, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    • Thank you very much! Not so much a gymnast as some one patient and determined.

      April 4, 2016 at 11:23 pm