Monday, February 9, 2015

Winter Wraith


The lair.

On a recent visit to the nature center's Long Branch Farm property, I encountered an avian insurgent, an insectivorous guerrilla that defies winter's frigid tantrums in the shelter of ravines and creek banks. That bird was a Winter Wren, a stubby little bird the color of dark chocolate. I imagine it must tussle with chipmunks and salamanders in the quasi-subterranean niches it inhabits.


As this photo demonstrates, the Winter Wren is, under normal circumstances, undetectable as it lurks in dark crevasses. Fortunately for birders, the Winter Wren would perform well in the role of a crabby mother-in-law; at the first sign of conflict (i.e., pishing), it emerges from the catacombs and scolds voraciously. 


The bird skated around on the frozen creek before taking off for a more peaceful hovel. That illustrates another dimension of the Winter Wren personality; it never (i.e., never) sits still. 


As a boy, I was perplexed about this wren's name. A much better name would be October Wren, I thought. For that was the month they always appeared in my backyard, burrowing through the woodpile and popping out in unexpected places. In Michigan, a winter Winter Wren is a prize, a bird worthy of a high five on a Christmas count. Here in southern Ohio, they are easier to find--walk a half mile of any creek, and you will kick one up.

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