This was a great summer season to find wrens in the Bangor area!
I recently went birding with friends in a sedge marsh in Orrington. A sedge is a grass-like plant with triangular stem growing typically in wet ground, but not in water. We saw a sedge wren — a rare bird in Maine! We could see its ruddy sides, checkerboard pattern on the wings, the indistinct white eyebrow, and the tan-gray crown. I believe this bird is a young of this year because I couldn’t see the streaks on the crown that adult sedge wrens have.
I’ve seen a sedge wren only six or seven times in Maine, where it is a state endangered species, and I hadn’t seen a sedge wren since I was working on the Sunkhaze Meadows in the 1990s. Another place I have seen one in the past is at the Penjajwoc Marsh, at the outer edge of the marsh, where the soil is dryer.
It is difficult to find a sedge wren, because they usually stay down low in the sedges. When they fly over the sedges, they stop for just a second on a twig, then they go back down into the sedge foliage.
In contrast, marsh wrens are quite common. I’ve seen many marsh wrens while canoeing this summer, usually among cattails. This bird has a darker brown crown, a prominent white eyebrow and rufous brown back and wings.
Sedge wrens have a short bill and eat small insects, such as mosquitoes. Marsh wrens have a longer bill and eat crane flies — insects that look like huge mosquitoes — and small dragonflies.
This summer, while birding around the Essex Woods Marsh, I heard and saw a house wren. Walking the trails at Fields Pond Audubon Center, on the Ravine Trail, I saw a winter wren, the smallest wren, which has a long, beautiful song.
Ornithologists are changing the names of wrens as a result of work on wren DNA. This is the hereditary material in humans as well as almost all other organisms. Because of differences in their genetic makeup, winter wren was split three ways: winter wren, our winter wren in the east; Pacific wren, the wren west of the Rocky Mountains; and Eurasian wren, the wren of Europe and Asia.
Fields Pond Audubon Center offers a program with gorgeous photography from the Galapagos by Deb Schmidt. You’ll enjoy a broad perspective of those islands with images that convey a focus on species and habitat preservation at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15. Admission is $5 members, $6 others.
For information on Fields Pond Audubon Center, call 989-2591.