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Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris)

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Marsh Wren - Where's Marty Now?

The Marsh Wren is BirdNote's signature bird, photographed by BirdNote advisor, Idie Ulsh. Marty, the BirdNote mascot, has been all over the world. He's seen here with writer Dennis Paulson in South Africa. Take Marty with you on your next trip! Download a copy of Marty, print him out, and pop him... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor

The Marsh Wren's Many Nests

Tiny Marsh Wrens live in wetlands, usually within cattails, reeds, or bulrushes. After choosing his territory, the male weaves up to 15 dome-shaped shells, lashing together cattails, grasses, or reeds. These are called "courting" nests. Then, sitting high atop a perch in the marsh, he sings,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, nesting

The Marsh Wren

Some bird-lovers have tagged the Marsh Wren the "Heinz 57 variety" bird, because scientists have recorded 57 different variations of its song. And nightfall doesn't faze these birds. A male may sing straight through the night. Marsh Wrens usually forage out of view, hopping up only for brief... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Bird Songs Reflect Habitat

The Canyon Wren's eloquent song soothes the soul. Naturalist Ralph Hoffman likened it to "the spray of a waterfall in sunshine." Its close cousin, the Marsh Wren, wound up with a harsh, ratcheting song - about as musical as a tiny machine-gun barrage. Birds' songs mirror their environments. The... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Bird Sound Types and Qualities Part III

When it's just too hard to see the bird you hear, let your ears take over! Listen for the qualities of the sound as well as the pattern. A flute-like and upward-spiraling sound is characteristic of this Swainson's Thrush. Quite a contrast to the plaintively whistled notes of a Black-capped... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Dawn in the Marsh

It's dawn in a western marsh in mid-summer, and man! Those birds are singin'! The males of more than a dozen species are staking out their territories and attracting mates. One of the noisiest of all is the Red-winged Blackbird. He sings not to attract just one mate, but to gather a whole harem!... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Bird Songs Reflect the Environment

Different sounds travel better in different environments. The explosive notes of a Marsh Wren carry well through thick vegetation. A Common Yellowthroat's choppy, repetitive song rattles right through a stand of cattails. An Olive-sided Flycatcher sings from atop a tall tree, its song carrying at... read more »

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Voices and Vocabularies - Songs Suit Surroundings

When a Canyon Wren sings, the brilliance of its sweet music can stop you in your tracks. But when its cousin, the Marsh Wren (seen here), sings, you may reach for your earplugs. Why do two closely related birds sing such contrasting songs? In the wren’s world, where song is essential to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching by ear, vocalization
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