Thryomanes bewickii - (Audubon, 1827)
Bewick's Wren
Other English Common Names: Bewick's wren
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Thryomanes bewickii (Audubon, 1827) (TSN 178562)
French Common Names: Troglodyte de Bewick
Spanish Common Names: Chivirín Cola Oscura
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100618
Element Code: ABPBG07010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Perching Birds
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Passeriformes Troglodytidae Thryomanes
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Thryomanes bewickii
Taxonomic Comments: Phillips (1986) merged the genus THYROMANES into the genus TROGLODYTES, which necessitated a new name for the San Clemente Island subspecies, for which A. M. Rea provided the name ANTHONYI. This generic placement also suggested by Howell and Webb (1995). Might be conspecific with and may constitute a superspecies with T. SISSONII (AOU 1998).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 10Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 03Dec1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread and common in many areas in western North America; major declines, probably related to habitat loss and habitat succession, have occurred east of the Mississippi River.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B (19Mar1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N4 (13Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SHB,S1N), Arizona (S5), Arkansas (S1B,S1S2N), California (SNR), Colorado (S5), District of Columbia (SHN), Georgia (SH), Idaho (S3), Illinois (S1), Indiana (S1B), Iowa (S2B,S2N), Kansas (S4B), Kentucky (S3B), Louisiana (S1S2N), Maryland (SXB), Michigan (SNRN), Minnesota (SNA), Mississippi (S2B,S3N), Missouri (S3), Montana (SU), Navajo Nation (S4S5), Nebraska (S4), Nevada (S5), New Mexico (S4B,S4N), North Carolina (SXB), Ohio (S1), Oklahoma (S4S5), Oregon (S5), Pennsylvania (SHB), South Carolina (S1?), Tennessee (S1), Texas (S5B), Utah (S4S5), Virginia (S1), Washington (S5), West Virginia (SX), Wisconsin (SXB), Wyoming (S3S4)
Canada British Columbia (S4), Ontario (SHB)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: BREEDING: historically, mainly from southwestern British Columbia, western and central Washington, western and southern Oregon, northern California, west-central and southern Nevada, southern Utah, southwestern Wyoming, central Colorado, Kansas, southeastern Nebraska, southern Iowa, extreme southern Great Lakes region, and southeastern New York, south to southern Baja California, northern Sonora, in Mexican highlands to central Oaxaca, western Puebla, and west-central Veracruz, and to southern Tamaulipas, central Texas, northern Arkansas, northern portions of the Gulf states (except Louisiana), and central South Carolina (AOU 1983). Formerly occurred on San Clemente Island (California) and Isla Guadalupe (Mexico). Species has nearly disappeared from all of the range east of the Mississippi River (Kennedy and White 1997). The greatest numbers are now, and probably always have been found, in the southwestern U.S. The highest encounter rates from 1976 to 1985 were found in central and southern Texas, central and southern Arizona, and southern and northcentral California. Highest average birds per BBS routes (1982-1991) were located in Arizona (9.67), Texas (5.24), California (4.25), New Mexico (3.37), and Oklahoma (2.57). A small population concentration also exists in western Washington. Eastern states, in contrast, average 0.05 birds per route. NON-BREEDING: northern limits of breeding range (west of the Rockies), Kansas, Missouri, lower Ohio Valley, Tennessee, and North Carolina south to limits of breeding range in Mexico, the Gulf coast, and central Florida (AOU 1983). The population east of the Mississippi has nearly disappeared. Subspecies ALTUS: historically, Appalachian region from southern Ontario, central Ohio, and cental Pennsylvania south to central Alabama, central Georgia, and central South Carolina, wintering south to the Gulf coast and central Florida (AOU 1957); now very local and rare in this range.

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Numerous occurrences, especially in the southwestern U.S.

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Common in southwestern U.S. Average number of birds per Breeding Bird Survey route in southwestern states was as high as 9.7 in Arizona. On the other hand, the Appalachian population is nearly extirpated, and all BBS routes had much fewer than 1.0 bird per route.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threats are poorly defined, but eastern populations are clearly threatened, and possibly western populations as well. Declines may be due to interspecific competition, habitat changes, inclement weather, and predators. Interspecific competition has been strongly linked to the decline. Starlings (STURNUS VULGARIS), house sparrows (PASSER DOMESTICUS), house wrens (TROGLODYTES AEDON), Carolina Wrens (THRYOTHORUS LUDOVICIANUS), and Song Sparrows (MELOSPIZA MELODIA) are likely competitors although it is difficult to attribute decline entirely to competition with any one species (Byrd and Johnston 1991, Ehrlich et al. 1992, LeGrand 1990, Simpson 1978). In Tennessee, for example, the decline began prior to the arrival of House Wrens (Hamel 1992). It is also difficult to ascertain what limiting resources are involved in the competitive exclusion of this species. Nest sites (cavities and crannies in tree trunks, base of trees and shrubs, or in buildings), for example, are not likely to be in short supply. Insects, the wren's food source, are seldom a limiting factor in the breeding season in the eastern U. S. (LeGrand and Hall, unpubl. data). Byrd and Johnston (1991) suggest that modern suburbanization and forest regrowth may be the most likely reason for the population decline. The San Clemente and Guadalupe Island subspecies, for example, are extinct due to habitat destruction caused by introduced livestock. Additional factors in the decline may be related to a series of harsh winters in 1957 and during the late 1970's (Mengel 1965, Robbins et al 1986, Peterjohn 1989). Bent (1948) noted also a few instances of brown-headed cowbird (MOLOTHRUS ATER) and bronzed cowbird (MOLOTHRUS AENEUS) parasitization. Predators include hawks, owls, and snakes. Pesticides are not known to be a problem, but it is unclear whether or not this has ever been directly investigated. Threats in the far West, where the species may also be declining, have not been analyzed.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data reveal that the species has been declining in parts of the U.S. for some time. Populations in the central and eastern parts of the range are smaller than they were in the past, and recent declines have been evident in California and Washington. Eight states, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, reported declines between the 1950s and the 1980s from rare or local breeders (or "common" in the case of North Carolina) to near or certain extirpation. Tennessee also reported a precipitous decline over the same period, but still has a few occurrences in the mid-state region. During the period of 1965 to 1979 severe declines occurred in Eastern and Central regions while the West was stable. Declines are noted especially in Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and no increases were detected in any states or strata. In the 1980's the decline in the central states subsided, while the population in the Eastern states continued to decline to the point that BBS data was no longer reliable for use in trend analysis (Peterjohn, pers. comm.). From 1982 to 1991 the Central region population showed an overall increase. Texas and the Osage Plain stratum showed increasing populations (plus 4 percent per year in Texas, plus 8 percent per year in the Osage Plain). These were the only positive trends registered in any state, stratum, or region during this decade (considering only those with adequate sample size and abundance for trend analysis). The West, however, showed a decline of more than 5 percent per year. Both California and Washington registered declines of more than 6 percent. Declines occurred in areas (Pinyon-Juniper, California Foothills, and Southern Pacific Rim strata) which have had sizable populations of this wren. This decline apparently has not been discussed in the literature yet. Maryland's Natural Heritage Program (1986) prepared "A Petition to List the Appalachian Population of Bewick's Wren as Endangered" in 1986. This account details state by state trends within the range of the Appalachian race of this species. The report concludes that whereas the species was considered common to abundant in most of twelve eastern states from southern Ontario to Alabama and Georgia prior to World War II, by the early 1980s, it was only documented as a breeding bird in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Fewer than 20 pairs were documented in the period of 1981-1985. The report suggested that the decline was "so severe that it may already be beyond the point of recovery for the population" (Maryland NHP 1986, p 1).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Inventory populations in states east of Mississippi to establish current population size and centers of abundance. Inventory populations in western BBS strata showing marked declines during the 1980s to establish baseline for monitoring.

Protection Needs: Populations east of the Mississippi require intervention to prevent complete extirpation. It would be appropriate and helpful to list species as Threatened or Endangered in all states east of the Mississippi with present or recent breeding populations, and to proceed with federal listing for the Appalachian population. Initiate protection measures should western populations continue to decline.

Distribution
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Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: historically, mainly from southwestern British Columbia, western and central Washington, western and southern Oregon, northern California, west-central and southern Nevada, southern Utah, southwestern Wyoming, central Colorado, Kansas, southeastern Nebraska, southern Iowa, extreme southern Great Lakes region, and southeastern New York, south to southern Baja California, northern Sonora, in Mexican highlands to central Oaxaca, western Puebla, and west-central Veracruz, and to southern Tamaulipas, central Texas, northern Arkansas, northern portions of the Gulf states (except Louisiana), and central South Carolina (AOU 1983). Formerly occurred on San Clemente Island (California) and Isla Guadalupe (Mexico). Species has nearly disappeared from all of the range east of the Mississippi River (Kennedy and White 1997). The greatest numbers are now, and probably always have been found, in the southwestern U.S. The highest encounter rates from 1976 to 1985 were found in central and southern Texas, central and southern Arizona, and southern and northcentral California. Highest average birds per BBS routes (1982-1991) were located in Arizona (9.67), Texas (5.24), California (4.25), New Mexico (3.37), and Oklahoma (2.57). A small population concentration also exists in western Washington. Eastern states, in contrast, average 0.05 birds per route. NON-BREEDING: northern limits of breeding range (west of the Rockies), Kansas, Missouri, lower Ohio Valley, Tennessee, and North Carolina south to limits of breeding range in Mexico, the Gulf coast, and central Florida (AOU 1983). The population east of the Mississippi has nearly disappeared. Subspecies ALTUS: historically, Appalachian region from southern Ontario, central Ohio, and cental Pennsylvania south to central Alabama, central Georgia, and central South Carolina, wintering south to the Gulf coast and central Florida (AOU 1957); now very local and rare in this range.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, DC, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MDextirpated, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NCextirpated, NE, NM, NN, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WIextirpated, WVextirpated, WY
Canada BC, ON

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Colbert (01033)*, DeKalb (01049)*, Jackson (01071)*, Lawrence (01079)*, Limestone (01083)*, Madison (01089)*, Marshall (01095)*
AR Arkansas (05001), Benton (05007), Boone (05009), Carroll (05015), Clay (05021), Conway (05029), Craighead (05031), Faulkner (05045), Johnson (05071), Madison (05087), Newton (05101), Poinsett (05111), Sebastian (05131), Washington (05143)
GA Whitfield (13313)
IA Johnson (19103)
ID Latah (16057)
IL Adams (17001), Jersey (17083)*, Johnson (17087)*, Macon (17115)*, Pope (17151), Williamson (17199)
IN Gibson (18051), Hamilton (18057), Morgan (18109)*
KY Anderson (21005), Breckinridge (21027), Caldwell (21033), Calloway (21035), Casey (21045), Christian (21047), Daviess (21059)*, Edmonson (21061), Franklin (21073), Grant (21081), Grayson (21085), Hardin (21093), Harrison (21097), Hart (21099), Hopkins (21107)*, Jefferson (21111)*, Kenton (21117), Lyon (21143), Madison (21151), Marion (21155), Marshall (21157), Meade (21163), Mercer (21167), Oldham (21185), Owen (21187), Pendleton (21191), Pulaski (21199), Scott (21209), Simpson (21213), Todd (21219), Trigg (21221), Warren (21227), Washington (21229), Woodford (21239)
MD Allegany (24001)*, Carroll (24013)*, Frederick (24021)*, Garrett (24023)*, Washington (24043)*
MO Benton (29015), Iron (29093), Pulaski (29169), Vernon (29217)
MS Bolivar (28011)*, Chickasaw (28017)*, DeSoto (28033)*, Grenada (28043), Harrison (28047)*, Hinds (28049)*, Issaquena (28055)*, Jackson (28059), Lafayette (28071), Madison (28089)*, Tishomingo (28141)*, Warren (28149)*, Yalobusha (28161)
NC Ashe (37009)*, Avery (37011)*, Buncombe (37021)*, Haywood (37087)*, Henderson (37089)*, Jackson (37099)*, Macon (37113)*, Transylvania (37175)*, Watauga (37189)*
OH Athens (39009)*, Brown (39015), Cuyahoga (39035)*, Lucas (39095)*, Muskingum (39119)*, Pike (39131), Scioto (39145)
PA Adams (42001)*, Beaver (42007)*, Bedford (42009)*, Butler (42019)*, Centre (42027)*, Franklin (42055)*, Fulton (42057)*, Greene (42059)*, Huntingdon (42061)*, Schuylkill (42107)*, Somerset (42111)*, Union (42119)*
SC Greenville (45045)*, Pickens (45077)*
TN Anderson (47001)*, Campbell (47013)*, Cannon (47015), Davidson (47037)*, Hamilton (47065)*, Hardin (47071)*, Haywood (47075)*, Henderson (47077)*, Humphreys (47085), Johnson (47091)*, Lake (47095)*, Lawrence (47099)*, Macon (47111)*, McNairy (47109)*, Montgomery (47125)*, Obion (47131)*, Overton (47133)*, Rutherford (47149)*, Shelby (47157)*, Smith (47159)*, Stewart (47161), Sumner (47165), Trousdale (47169), Van Buren (47175)*, Wayne (47181)*, Wilson (47189)*
VA Giles (51071)*, Grayson (51077)*, Highland (51091)*, Lee (51105)*, Russell (51167)*, Tazewell (51185)*, Washington (51191)*
WV Braxton (54007)*, Greenbrier (54025)*, Hardy (54031)*, Jefferson (54037)*, Kanawha (54039), Lewis (54041)*, Pendleton (54071)*, Pocahontas (54075)*, Webster (54101)*
WY Sweetwater (56037)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Schuylkill (02040203)+*, Bald Eagle (02050204)+*, Lower Susquehanna-Penns (02050301)+*, Upper Juniata (02050302)+*, Raystown (02050303)+*, Lower Juniata (02050304)+*, Gunpowder-Patapsco (02060003)+*, South Branch Potomac (02070001)+*, North Branch Potomac (02070002)+*, Cacapon-Town (02070003)+*, Conococheague-Opequon (02070004)+*, Shenandoah (02070007)+*, Middle Potomac-Catoctin (02070008)+*, Monocacy (02070009)+*, Upper James (02080201)+*
03 Saluda (03050109)+*, Seneca (03060101)+*, Tugaloo (03060102)+*, Conasauga (03150101)+, Upper Coosa (03150105)+*, Middle Coosa (03150106)+*, Upper Tombigbee (03160101)+*, Tibbee (03160104)+*, Escatawpa (03170008)+, Mississippi Coastal (03170009)+*
04 Lower Maumee (04100009)+*, Black-Rocky (04110001)+*
05 Lower Monongahela (05020005)+*, Youghiogheny (05020006)+*, Upper Ohio (05030101)+*, Connoquenessing (05030105)+*, Little Kanawha (05030203)+*, Hocking (05030204)+*, Wills (05040005)+*, Upper New (05050001)+*, Middle New (05050002)+*, Greenbrier (05050003)+*, Upper Kanawha (05050006)+, Elk (05050007)+*, Lower Scioto (05060002)+, Ohio Brush-Whiteoak (05090201)+, Licking (05100101)+, South Fork Licking (05100102)+, Lower Kentucky (05100205)+, Upper Green (05110001)+, Barren (05110002)+, Rough (05110004)+, Pond (05110006)+*, Upper White (05120201)+, Upper Cumberland (05130101)+*, Upper Cumberland-Lake Cumberland (05130103)+, Upper Cumberland-Cordell Hull (05130106)+*, Caney (05130108)+*, Lower Cumberland-Old Hickory Lake (05130201)+, Lower Cumberland-Sycamore (05130202)+*, Stones (05130203)+, Harpeth (05130204)+*, Lower Cumberland (05130205)+, Red (05130206)+, Silver-Little Kentucky (05140101)+, Salt (05140102)+*, Rolling Fork (05140103)+, Blue-Sinking (05140104)+, Lower Ohio-Little Pigeon (05140201)+*, Highland-Pigeon (05140202)+, Lower Ohio-Bay (05140203)+, Saline (05140204)+*, Tradewater (05140205)+, Lower Ohio (05140206)+*
06 North Fork Holston (06010101)+*, South Fork Holston (06010102)+*, Watauga (06010103)+*, Upper French Broad (06010105)+*, Pigeon (06010106)+*, Nolichucky (06010108)+*, Upper Little Tennessee (06010202)+*, Tuckasegee (06010203)+*, Upper Clinch (06010205)+*, Lower Clinch (06010207)+*, Middle Tennessee-Chickamauga (06020001)+*, Wheeler Lake (06030002)+*, Lower Elk (06030004)+*, Pickwick Lake (06030005)+*, Bear (06030006)+*, Lower Tennessee-Beech (06040001)+*, Buffalo (06040004)+*, Kentucky Lake (06040005)+, Lower Tennessee (06040006)+
07 Lower Iowa (07080209)+, Peruque-Piasa (07110009)+*, Upper Sangamon (07130006)+*, Lower Illinois (07130011)+, Meramec (07140102)+, Big Muddy (07140106)+
08 Obion (08010202)+*, South Fork Forked Deer (08010205)+*, Lower Hatchie (08010208)+*, Horn Lake-Nonconnah (08010211)+*, Lower Mississippi-Helena (08020100)+*, Lower St. Francis (08020203)+, L'anguille (08020205)+, Lower Arkansas (08020401)+, Bayou Meto (08020402)+, Lower Mississippi-Greenville (08030100)+*, Yocona (08030203)+, Coldwater (08030204)+*, Yalobusha (08030205)+, Big Sunflower (08030207)+*, Lower Yazoo (08030208)+*, Deer-Steele (08030209)+*, Lower Big Black (08060202)+*
10 Harry S. Missouri (10290105)+, Upper Gasconade (10290201)+, Big Piney (10290202)+
11 Beaver Reservoir (11010001)+, Bull Shoals Lake (11010003)+, Buffalo (11010005)+, Illinois (11110103)+, Dardanelle Reservoir (11110202)+
14 Upper Green-Slate (14040103)+, Big Sandy (14040104)+, Bitter (14040105)+, Upper Green-Flaming Gorge Reservoir (14040106)+
17 Clearwater (17060306)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A small insectivorous songbird (wren).
General Description: A 13-centimeter-long bird with a long sideways-flitting tail edged with white spots, a long white eyebrow, a slender decurved bill, and a pale (whitish) unmarked throat and breast; dorsum is reddish-brown in the east, much grayer in the west (NGS 1983).
Reproduction Comments: Lay eggs from April into June, with from four to nine (usually five to seven) eggs per clutch. Generally, two or three broods are raised per year (Potter et al. 1980). The female incubates and the chicks hatch after approximately 14 days. Juveniles fledge approximately 14 days after hatching. Both parents feed until young are 28 days old (Bent 1948, Harrison 1978).
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Northern breeding populations are partially migratory in the east, move south for winter. Elevational migrations occur in some areas. In the western half of the United States, the Bewick's wren is essentially non-migratory. However, the populations found in the Appalachians and in the Midwest are migratory, and travel in early spring, often arriving in March (Stupka 1963). The birds remains on the breeding grounds until October or November. Those that nest in the Appalachians and Midwest winter farther south, mainly from Kentucky and Missouri southward to the Gulf Coast, but they are very rare in Florida.
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Old field, Shrubland/chaparral, Suburban/orchard, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood
Special Habitat Factors: Standing snag/hollow tree
Habitat Comments: BREEDING: Uses brushy areas, thickets and scrub in open country, open and riparian woodland, and chaparral. More commonly in arid regions but locally also in humid areas (subtropical and temperate zones) including country towns and farms (AOU 1983). In southwestern North America, primary habitats include chaparral, brushy slopes, pinyon-juniper, live-oak, and mesquite associations. In southwestern Wyoming, preferred woodlands with a combination of pinyon pine and high overstory juniper cover (Pavlacky and Anderson 2001). Along the northern Pacific coast, occurrences are in rough country, clearcut forests, open second-growth, and in the vicinity of human habitations (Bent 1948). In eastern North America, generally occurs at higher elevations of the Appalachians in farmyards, brushy places, openings and edges of woodlands, and overgrown fields. Typically nests in natural tree cavities or among crannies formed by exposed roots. May use small cavities in human-made objects including fence posts, buildings, or bird houses.

Its habitat during the period of peak abundance and expansion in 1800s and early 1900s was different from that of the current population. For example, in North Carolina during the early 1900s, wrens commonly occurred in towns and farmyards at all elevations of the mountains (Pearson et al. 1942, Potter et al. 1980). Most of the North Carolina records since 1950 have been in forest openings, pastures with fences and brushpiles that are away from human habitation and above 4.000 feet.

NON-BREEDING: eastern birds abandon montane habitats, moving into weedy open country, especially around old farm buildings, brushpiles, and fencerows, at lower elevations.

Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Insects comprise about 97% of the diet (beetles, leaf bugs, stink bugs, boll weevils, grasshoppers, etc). Also eats spiders and other small animal food. Forages on the ground, among foliage and limbs of trees and bushes, on logpiles, or around old buildings. Most of its foraging occurs within ten feet of the ground.
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 13 centimeters
Weight: 10 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: On the verge of extirpation in the eastern U.S., it has no remaining population strongholds in this region. In the Central states, it appears to have a stable or increasing population in its center of greatest abundance in Texas. In the West, it appears to have begun declining fairly rapidly along the Pacific Coast, especially from northern California northward. It would be useful to determine the extent of the current population in the eastern states and if there are yet any population centers of viable size. Suggested actions include a public call for information about sightings in the East, with follow-up by researchers. An experimental nest box program should be evaluated.
Restoration Potential: Until the causes of decline are found, recovery is unlikely. Release into formerly occupied habitat is not likely to succeed until reasons for the decline are found and the possibility of controlling threats is explored.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Land protection is not a viable alternative for protection. Wrens nest in human-altered habitats such as farmyards or openings in forests. Though territories are small, perhaps five acres, the decline does not appear to be based on loss of habitat. Protection of land would not provide protection from competing species or severe winters (LeGrand and Hall, unpubl. data).
Management Requirements: Management needs are poorly defined because of the lack of understanding of the decline in the East. However, the following are a few considerations based on current knowledge: 1) Removal of competitors in the vicinity of nests would likely benefit if competitors are the limiting factor. However, removal may be impractical because of high abundance of introduced species such as house sparrows and starlings. Native competitors are protected species. The procedure would be costly and likely unproductive. 2) Habitat management might be necessary in areas where farmland is converting to forest. Prescribed burning or other techniques that maintain early successional stages (open scrub woodland) may be beneficial in the eastern U.S. 3) Construction of nest boxes may be beneficial if nest sites are a limiting factor. See Mitchell (1988) for construction specification and placement of nest boxes. Nest boxes are inexpensive and effectiveness needs to be evaluated. Boxes placed in high elevation pastures and other semi-open places with brushpiles, fence rows, and shrubbery might attract wrens. However, they would likely attract other species as well.
Monitoring Requirements: The BBS and Breeding Bird Atlas projects offer adequate monitoring schemes where populations are larger. Special monitoring projects should center on the East where BBS and Atlas projects provide inadequate data for small populations. Focus on northern California to southern British Colombia and the Pinyon-Juniper strata will help determine if declines recorded by the BBS in the 1980's are continuing.

Because birds appear to be absent as breeders through much of their former range east of the Mississippi, surveys of suitable habitat directed solely at this species would be inefficient. A public appeal requesting information about sightings would be useful to help locate breeding pairs for monitoring and study (LeGrand and Hall, unpubl. data). Helpful information includes: numbers, distribution, habitat selection, success, predators (e.g. cats, snakes, raccoons). Interactions with potential competitors (house wrens, Carolina Wrens, starlings, house sparrows, and song sparrows) need to be recorded to help discern causes for the decline.

Management Research Needs: The primary research need is to determine the reason for the decline in the East, and possibly, on the Pacific Coast. This will be difficult to accomplish in much of the eastern range because of rarity. In those Eastern states where small numbers still breed, research is needed to determine threats, and to experiment with management practices, such as nest boxes or competitor exclusion. Also needed are: basic information on ecology, including food resources and relationship to competitors, predators, and nest parasites.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Passerines

Use Class: Breeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Nest Site, Nesting Colony
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.

Mapping Guidance: Breeding occurrences include nesting areas as well as foraging areas.

For swallows and other species that have separate nesting and foraging areas, separations are based on nest sites or nesting areas, not to locations of foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap larger than the separation distance are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas. This separation procedure is appropriate because nesting areas are the critical aspect of swallow breeding occurrences, tend to be relatively stable or at least somwhat predictable in general location, and so are the basis for effective conservation; foraging areas are much more flexible and not necessarily static.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Significant dispersal and associated high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by tens of kilometers (e.g., Moore and Dolbeer 1989), and increasing evidence that individuals leave their usual home range to engage in extrapair copulations, as well as long foraging excursions of some species, make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for songbirds and flycatchers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart. Mean foraging radius (from nesting area) of Brown-headed Cowbird females was 4.0 kilometers in California, 1.2 kilometers in Illinois-Missouri (Thompson 1994). Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Brewer's Blackbirds, and probably Red-winged Blackbirds all forage up to 1.6 kilometers away from breeding colony (Willson 1966, Horn 1968). In one study, Brewer's Blackbirds were found as far as 10 kilometers from nesting area (Williams 1952), but this may be unusual.

For swallows and other parrerines with similar behavioral ecology, separation distance pertains to nest sites or nesting colonies, not to locations of foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap of more than 5 km are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas. This separation procedure is appropriate because nesting areas are the critical aspect of swallow breeding occurrences, tend to be relatively stable or at least somwhat predictable in general location, and so are the basis for effective conservation; foraging areas are much more flexible and not necessarily static.

Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.

Unsuitable habitat: Habitat not normally used for breeding/feeding by a particular species. For example, unsuitable habitat for grassland and shrubland birds includes forest/woodland, urban/suburban, and aquatic habitats. Most habitats would be suitable for birds with versatile foraging habits (e.g., most corvids).

Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Migratory stopover
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Roost Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: For most passerines: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating individuals (including historical) and potential recurring presence at a given location; minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds in appropriate habitat.

For swallows: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating flocks (including historical) and potential recurring presence at a given location; minimally a reliable observation of 100 birds in appropriate habitat (e.g., traditional roost sites).

Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 7 days annually.

EOs should not be described for species that are nomadic during nonbreeding season: e.g., Lark Bunting.

Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary but intended to define occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.

For swallows and other species with similar behavioral ecology, the separation distance pertains to communal roost sites rather than to foraging areas; the former tend to be more stable and specific over time than the latter.

Date: 03Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Roost Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Any area used traditionally in the nonbreeding season (used for populations that are not resident in a location year-round). Minimally, reliable observations of 10 or more individuals in appropriate habitat for 20 or more days at a time. For G1-G3 species, observations of fewer individuals could constitute an occurrence of conservation value. Sites used during migration should be documented under the 'migratory stopover' location use class.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is necessarily arbitrary but attempts to balance the high mobility of birds with the need for occurrences of reasonable spatial scope. Note that a population's roost sites and foraging areas are parts of the same occurrence, even if they are more than 5 km apart.

For swallows and other species with similar behavioral ecology, the separation distance pertains to communal roost sites rather than to foraging areas; the former tend to be more stable and specific over time than the latter.

Date: 03Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Nonmigratory
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a particular location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in or near appropriate habitat.

These occurrence specifications are used for nonmigratory populations of passerine birds.

Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Significant dispersal and associated high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by tens of kilometers (e.g., Moore and Dolbeer 1989), and increasing evidence that individuals leave their usual home range to engage in extrapair copulations, as well as long foraging excursions of some species, make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for songbirds and flycatchers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and breeding-season foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart. Blue jays have small summer home ranges but fly up to 4 kilometers to harvest mast (Tarvin and Woolfenden 1999). Flocks of pinyon jays range over 21-29 square kilometers (Ligon 1971, Balda and Bateman 1971); nesting and foraging areas may be widely separated. Tricolored blackbirds forage in flocks that range widely to more than 15 kilometers from the nesting colony (Beedy and Hamilton 1999).

Unsuitable habitat: Habitat not normally used for breeding/feeding by a particular species. For example, unsuitable habitat for grassland and shrubland birds includes forest/woodland, urban/suburban, and aquatic habitats. Most habitats would be suitable for birds with versatile foraging habits (e.g., most corvids).

Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: These specs pertain to nonmigratory species.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Judith D. Soule, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, 5th Floor Mason Bldg., P.O. Box 30028, Lansing, MI 48909.
Management Information Edition Date: 28Sep1992
Management Information Edition Author: SOULE, J.D.; REVISION BY G. HAMMERSON, M. KOENEN, AND D.W. MEHLMAN
Management Information Acknowledgments: Thanks to Heritage staff for responding to my requests for information: Georgia - John Ambrose; Illinois - Vern Kleen; Maryland - Judy Harding; North Carolina - Harry LeGrand; Ohio - Dan Rice; Pennsylvania - Barb Barton; South Carolina - John Cely; Tennessee - Paul Hamel and Chuck Nicholson (TVA Regional Heritage); Virginia - Steve Roble; West Virginia - Barbara Sargent. John Castrale, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Indiana Department of Natural Resources also provided information. Bruce Peterjohn, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Migratory Bird Management, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, provided BBS trend data and guidance on interpretation. Thanks to all the volunteers who participate in the BBS.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 25Apr1995
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): HAMMERSON, G.; REVISIONS BY M. KOENEN, D. W. MEHLMAN, AND S. CANNINGS

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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  • Willson, M. F. 1966. Breeding ecology of the Yellow-headed Blackbird. Ecological Monographs 36:51-77.

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Use Guidelines and Citation

The Small Print: Trademark, Copyright, Citation Guidelines, Restrictions on Use, and Information Disclaimer.

Note: All species and ecological community data presented in NatureServe Explorer at http://explorer.natureserve.org were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of March 2018.
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Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

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"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:
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