Wrens

House Wren Troglodytes aedon
House Wren is a fairly common species from October through April, but can be very difficult to find during the summer months. There are just a handful of reports from May through September each year, and most of those are “heard only”, lacking photographic support. In fall and winter, listen or look for them in the wooded areas of local parks and brush piles; they can also be quite common along the dunes of A1A at Little Talbot Island State Park and in the parking lot at Huguenot Memorial Park. They are quite vocal and their harsh scolding call is a rather familiar sound on most winter morning outings. In summer, I’ve seen them on Black Hammock Island and Sheffield Regional Park where they can be found with some effort to the south of the football fields. There are no known breeding records here for the species.

House Wren

Winter Wren Troglodytes hiemalis
Winter Wren is a species that should not be expected in northeast Florida on any given day, but should always be considered as a possible rarity. There are a handful of reports over the years but unfortunately no known records (an observation supported by photo, video, or audio). An early report comes from the 1960 Christmas Bird Count, and one was noted as singing by Grimes on 23 March and 1 April 1968 (Stevenson, 1968).

West (1996) noted a single Winter Wren in south Jacksonville observed between 28 November 1995 and 30 January 1996. More recently, one was observed on 18 November 2000 at Kingsley Plantation, another on 12 November 2004 in Jacksonville’s south side, and most recently at “Sample Swamp” during the 2010 Christmas Bird Count (CBC). As rare as the species is today, it nevertheless shows up on CBC data in 1931, 1950, ’51, ’53, ’54, ’57, ’60, ’64, ’65, ’66, ’68, ’69, ’71, ’76, ’77, ’80, ’81, ’84, ’86, ’89, and 2010. I remain heavily skeptical about CBC data and take most of these reports with a grain of salt.

Sedge Wren Cistothorus platensis
Sedge Wren is an uncommon winter resident with no records or reports from May through September. They can be difficult to find even in suitable habitat, and are most often heard rather than seen. The most reliable place to search for them is along the two boardwalks at the southern parking lot of Little Talbot Island State Park. Sheffield Regional Park has good habitat for them adjacent to the first large pond and basketball courts, but that may change if the property is further developed for soccer fields in the future. In western Duval, Fretwell Park, Branan Field Wildlife and Environmental Area, and Taye Brown Regional Park are all excellent locations for the species. In the eastern and northern part of the county, try the eastern side of Fort George Island along the saltmarsh, Little Talbot Island, and throughout Cedar Point Preserve where there is perhaps the largest expanse of suitable habitat in the area.

Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris
Many local birders don’t realize that Marsh Wren (specifically, the “Worthington’s” Marsh Wren) is a year-round resident and breeding species in Duval County. Their breeding habits have been studied for years and it is suggested that while they do occur south of the St. Johns River in winter, they move to the marshes of the Timucuan Preserve north of the river in summer to breed. I can personally attest that they seem to be an abundant breeding species in those marshes, as each summer I kayak into the finger creeks just north of White Shell Bay off Heckscher Drive, where they can be heard singing and seen perching in the grasses.

Stevenson and Anderson (1994) noted one on 24 September 1957 as an early fall report, but did not note why it wasn’t considered one of the abundant breeding population in the area. Good areas to search for them in winter include around the observation tower at Theodore Roosevelt Area, the small fishing pier at Betz-Tiger Point Preserve, and the dock behind Jim King Park at Sister’s Creek.

Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus
Carolina Wren is by far the most abundant wren in the county and can be found in all seasons in appropriate habitat. These inquisitive birds are almost always heard when birding any of the major hotspots and a little pishing should produce them quickly. They are expected on virtually any outing at places like Kingsley Plantation, Fort George Island, Reddie Point Preserve, Little Talbot Island, Sheffield Regional Park, Cedar Point Preserve, or Hanna Park. If you’re looking for near-guaranteed pinpoint locations, you could target the area around the interpretive garden at Kingsley Plantation, the “free” parking lot at the entrance to Huguenot Memorial Park, or around the parking lot trail head at Reddie Point Preserve.

Page updated 24 June 2020.

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