Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2022-03

Common name:

Winter Wren

Scientific name: Troglodytes hiemalis
Date: 12/21/2021
Time: 9:20 AM
Length of time observed: 5 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Unknown - apparent adult
Sex: Unknown
Location: Riverside Walk - Zion National Park
County: Washington
Latilong: 20
Elevation: ~3900 ft
Distance to bird: 10 ft
Optical equipment: Celestron Nature DX 8x42 binoculars / Canon 6D Mark II DSLR / Sigma 150-600mm C
Weather: Clear, ~32 degrees F
Light Conditions: Shady (canyon floor)
Description:        Size of bird: small ~4 inches
(Description:)       Basic Shape: typical small wren shape
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Dark brown with rusty tones and dark spots
(Description:)            Bill Type: thin, long, sharp point
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
I first heard the bird in scrub right by the river's edge but was not sure what I was hearing. It was a repeating chimp call similar to a Song Sparrow. When I saw the bird I immediately took note of the overall dark color and conspicuously short tail. I knew it was a wren by its overall size and shape - it looked a lot like Eurasian Wrens that I had seen before. I eliminated other wren species that I was familiar with - Rock, Canyon, House, Marsh, Carolina, Bewick's. My first thought after this was that it might be a Winter Wren - a species I had never seen but was aware of due to time spent in N. Texas. While still observing the bird I opened the Merlin Bird ID app to look up Winter Wren and noted that the bird matched the photos and description in the app. I then listened to the calls in the app for Winter Wren and noted that the calls I was hearing matched closely to the first call recording in the app (recorded by Jay McGowan, NY, Nov 2019), though the calls were not as frequent and and only given as a single call, not double.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: Single call note given 3-5 seconds apart.
Behavior: Hiding on the ground in scrub, calling, then flew across trail and hid under a fallen tree.
Habitat: Riverside scrub on canyon floor.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Rock - lighter and longer tail. Canyon - different color pattern and call. House - different color, shorter bill, longer tail. Marsh - different color pattern and call. Carolina - range, color pattern, tail, and call. Bewick's - color pattern, tail, and call.

When preparing my eBird checklist I noticed that Pacific Wren was an expected species for the area and noted the similar physical appearance to the Winter Wren. I then reviewed the sound recordings for Pacific Wren in the Merlin Bird ID app, as well as recordings in the Sibley Birds app, and iBird Ultimate app. I noted that the Pacific Wren call recordings were noticeably higher and clearer (less squeak) than the call I had heard from the observed bird. At this point I wish I had made a recording of the bird's call with the Merlin app but it didn't even occur to me at the time.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
No personal experience with Winter or Pacific Wren.
References consulted: Merlin, Sibley, iBird
Description from: Notes made later
From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Jenner Bryson
Observer's address:  
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: 1/23/22
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: