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My Life’s Birds: #176

December 3, 2008

April 18, 1994 – Christian Co, Mo – There’s a very small subset of birds that I would find back in my younger days in Missouri that are very hard, or even impossible, to find now that I’m out in North Carolina. And there’s one in particular that I was even lucky to find back in the day, as it’s population has declined fairly substantially in the days since I first found it, at least in Missouri.

I was familiar with Carolina Wrens, those most common and conspicuous members of a family that’s, with few exceptions, pretty common and conspicuous. Southwest Missouri was getting to the extreme northwest extension of their range, and right on the border of their overlap with a similar wren of drier, more open habitats, the Bewick’s Wren. I remember the hand-wringing that went along with this bird’s identification, the careful inspection of the field marks to differentiate the bird from the all too similar Carolina. My dad and I eventually decided that we’d seen enough to make the call, and so we did.

In the time since that Bewick’s Wren was seen, Carolinas have increased their population, pushing out the Bewick’s in Missouri to the point where the bird is somewhat noteworthy anymore. I certainly have very little experience with the bird since then, moving beyond it’s regular range. But the bird still counts, and a trip west will likely find me face to face again someday.

photo from wikipedia

  1. Jochen permalink
    December 3, 2008 9:12 am

    Darn, of course it is MissourI.

  2. December 3, 2008 9:25 am

    @jochen – Oh yeah, they’re around in low numbers, just hard to find unless you go to precisely the right place, like you did.

    I’ll let the Missoury slip slide this time. At least you didn’t call it Missour-ah.

  3. Jochen permalink
    December 3, 2008 9:43 am

    Nate, honestly: Bewick’s (the decreasing nominate subspecies) was one of my prime targets during my days in St. Louis, I was almost shocked when I learned there that they were so “infrequent” and delighted to the extreme when I found them (all by myself, as I may add in pride).
    One of my most memorable “golden birding moments” ever – anywhere.

    And that Missouri-mistake: you see, I learned most of what I know about English when I stayed in Canada as an exchange high school student in 1987/88, and today those Canadian roots came through unexpectedly: I meant to write Missouri, ey! and simply fell short a bit.


  4. Greg permalink
    December 3, 2008 10:17 am

    I think I remember that Bewick’s Wren near Stockton Reservoir at Aldrich. Interestingly, I spotted a Bewick’s at the exact same place that we found that one, only 14 years later! That August 17 sighting is on the GOAS Fall Seasonal Report. And, if my memory serves me well, I believe that it’s the only one I’ve seen in Missouri since our first sighting.

  5. James permalink
    December 3, 2008 10:23 am

    We get a lot of Bewick’s in our yard and nest boxes here in central Texas and now suddenly the Carolinas have started showing up in our yard so I get to see the species at the same time on occasion. The first time I saw them together I was surprised by the fact that the Carolina is noticeably larger than the Bewick’s.

  6. December 3, 2008 7:14 pm

    @jochen- You should be delighted, Bewick’s Wren near StL is a really great bird and not easy to get.

    @dad- I have in my records that our first Bewick’s was in Christian Co, but you have it at Aldrich? Maybe my notes are wrong, Stockton does seem like a better place.

    @James- I would like to see Bewick’s again, they are fairly obviously different from Carolinas when you really get to know them. So slim and sleek.

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