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Sutro Bird Watcher: Pacific Wren

Grab Your Binoculars!

Summertime. The Pacific wren is singing in the Sutro shrubbery, even as most other small birds fall silent in San Francisco’s summer fog. The impossibly long, burbling song in the underbrush of Mt. Sutro is the unique song of the Pacific wren. No other song on Mt. Sutro compares for length and for the ability to convey vigor.

A year-round resident of Mt. Sutro, the Pacific wren is a bird of the forest, creeping on the ground and among the snowberry and coffeeberry thickets in the moist shrubbery, searching for insects. Perhaps the birdwatcher will be fortunate enough to see the wren, tail cocked up and beak open, trembling with song, strongly gripping a twig in the bushes.

The wren is brown, round and tiny, just larger than a hummingbird, possessing a body so much smaller than his song. The Pacific wren has various calls. Often while walking along the Historic Trail the birdwatcher will hear a raspy scold. Stop walking and the scold may continue, becoming louder and closer. The Pacific wren, a bold creature, may be seen finally. This tiny wren, perched nearby, facing the birdwatcher, behaves as if the scolding call is sure to drive the interloper away.

Return to the mountain year round to hear the voices of the Pacific wren and to catch a glimpse of its brown, feathered body.

Check out the link for more information, including identification, life history and sounds.

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