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Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris


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Marsh Wren

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Troglodytidae, Wrens view all from this family

Description Song is extremely variable, but typically includes fluty warbling notes; calls include an agitated tchut.

Dimensions Length: 4-5 1/2" (10-14 cm)

Habitat Easy to hear, but a challenge to see. Patient watching usually pays off.

Range Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Western Canada, Northwest, Mid-Atlantic, Texas, Plains, Southeast, Great Lakes, California, New England, Eastern Canada, Florida

Voice Locally common summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to cattail marshes; winters from southern U.S. to Mexico. Present year-round in some coastal districts.

Discussion Vocal but secretive wren that is easier to hear than see. In flight (between one patch of cover and another), note the whirring, rounded wings and rounded tail. Perched birds often cock tail. Sexes are similar. ADULT Has reddish brown upperparts overall, with subtle barring on wings and tail, white streaks on back, and striking, pale supercilium. Face is gray-buff, palest on throat and with speckling on face. Underparts are pale, but with warm orange-buff wash on flanks. JUVENILE Similar, but with grayer face and less distinct supercilium.