As was noted in an earlier post, there are some regions in the world that are cursed with a paucity of wrens (eg., Western Europe has but one wren species). Thankfully, the US is not one of them; and, fortunately, 4 species were observed on a quick trip to Southeast Arizona:
- Rock Wren
- Canyon Wren
- House Wren
- Pacific Wren
- Blue Grossbeak
- Bell's Vireo
It is no surprise that this 6 inch Western songbird is plumaged to blend in perfectly with its rocky surroundings. The undersides are pale with faint grey streaking and the sides show light, peach colored flanks.
The uppersides are light grey and cryptically speckled (simulating the grain and texture of their canyon habitat) while the undertail is distinctly barred. The coloration scheme fits perfectly with the wren's environment as these photographs so emphatically attest.
This is the only wren species whose plumage is devoid of the browns, chestnuts, and rusts that dominate the other wrens in the US. The male Rock Wren is an accomplished songster and, curiously, lines the walkway to its nest by small stones and pebbles for reasons known only to wrenkind.
This wren was seen at Molino Canyon Vista in the foothills of Mt. Lemmon. Southeast Arizona is a reliable place to observe Rock Wren, and while it is a fairly common resident of the West from British Columbia South to Central America, nevertheless, populations are unfortunately declining throughout its range.
The next wren is similar to the Rock Wren in many respects -- it is also a specialist of rocky habitats and is uniquely adapted to flatten its body to fit into tight crevices. So much so, that its spinal and skull anatomy are purpose-built for finding insect prey in impossibly narrow spaces.
The Canyon Wren, is perhaps wider ranging than the Rock -- it can be found in canyon, rocky, and other steep habitats -- in fact, this species was observed at multiple locations on Mt. Lemmon: Molino Vista, Molino Basin, and Rose Canyon.
Compared to the Rock Wren, the Canyon Wren has darker uppersides, rustier undersides, and a prominent pure white throat.
The Canyon Wren is our most colorful and, perhaps, attractive. Its song, a series of haunting, descending musical notes, is similarly unforgettable. Indeed, it is more often heard than seen.
The Rock and Canyon wrens are unique and signature species of their rocky habitats -- they are truly wrens that rock!
Other wrens observed were:
Blue Grosbeak was also observed at Molino Basin:
This stunning member of the cardinal family is found coast to coast in the Southern half of the US.
Finally, commoner species included Verdin:
.. and Bell's Vireo:
There are 10 species of wren in the US; common species such as House, Carolina and Marsh Wren can be seen across the country. However, there are few places that can match a wealth of such specialized species such as Canyon and Rock Wrens as Southeastern Arizona.