Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2014-004

Common name:

Winter Wren

Scientific name: Troglodytes hiemalis
Date: 1/29/2014
Time: 1000
Length of time observed: 15 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Unknown
Location: On the Santa Clara River approximately 1/4 mile south of Gunlock Reservoir. Exact coordinates: 37.246 -113.7782
County: Washington
Latilong: 19, St George
Elevation: about 3,500 feet
Distance to bird: Between 10 and 50 feet
Optical equipment: Swarovski Swarovision 8x32 binoculars
Weather: Partly cloudy, 50 degrees
Light Conditions: Good
Description:        Size of bird: small (roughly like a chickadee or bushtit)
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Round and compact
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Brown to buff
(Description:)            Bill Type: Thin and pointed
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Small wren with a very short, upright, and finely banded tail. Upperparts mostly brownish with small whitish flecks along the shoulders, flanks, and wings becoming more extensive behind the auriculars. Throat, breast, and supercilium were beige/buffy in color and contrasted with the upperparts.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: Called frequently with a low "chup" or "chup chup". Initially located by voice which sounded somewhat like a song sparrow. Also gave a longer, harsher scolding call after a small flock of western scrub-jays flew nearby.
Behavior: Very active, flitting in and out of marshy vegetation and piles of dead branches. It rarely stayed in one spot more than a few seconds at a time. Calling most of the time. At one point the bird flew across the creek and under a large log where it stayed out of sight for about one minute.
Habitat: Riparian marsh with willow and cottonwoods nearby. Pinyon-juniper surrounding the general area.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
This wren had a lighter throat and supercilium when compared to the pacific wren's more rufous throat. This bird also had more white flecks throughout the upperparts than a pacific wren. Call notes were also lower than pacific (I was able to reference both species calls on my phone while on site for a direct comparison).
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
The only "true" winter wrens I've seen were when I lived in North Carolina about ten years ago. I have seen or heard several Pacific wrens in Montana, Utah, Idaho, and Oregon. However, I have not had many opportunities to scrutinize these species since the split.
References consulted: National Geographic guide, Sibley, and recordings on my phone
Description from: Notes taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Shawn Langston
Observer's address: 310 N 2230 E, St George, UT 84790
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: none
Date prepared: 1/30/2014
Additional material: Photos