Connecticut Audubon Bird Finder for February 28: Winter Wren
By Andy Rzeznikiewicz, the land manager at our Pomfret and Trail Wood Preserves.
Where to find it: Winter Wrens can be found throughout the state at this time of year although they are usually hard to find because of their secretive habits. The best place to look is in thick brush near streams. In breeding season, their song is quite loud and distinctive but sometimes in winter one will sing a little bit to make its presence known. Even when you hear their call, they are notoriously hard to see. Some Winter Wrens nest in the northern half of Connecticut, particularly in hemlock forests with rocky ground or near streams. They primarily nest across the boreal regions of New England and Canada. They make their nests in tree cavities and rock crevices, in stumps, and under stream banks. They feed on insects and spiders primarily. Rotten logs and stumps are preferred foraging locations.
In April through the summer, Boston Hollow Road in Ashford is a good known location to find them and hear them singing. This year, Winter Wrens also have been reported in Windsor, along the Farmington River; in Plainfield, at the Quinebaug Fish Hatchery; and at Mondo Ponds in Milford, among other locations.
How to find it: At Connecticut Audubon Society’s Center at Pomfret, walk along the trail across from the nature center building, focusing low in the brush along the stream. Any location with thick brush along a small stream is your best bet. They are very secretive, and finding one should be a highlight of any bird walk. Even just hearing their beautiful song will make you stop and feel happy you heard it. But because they don’t sing much now, in winter, flushing one might be your best hope. You can often get quite close to one before they fly.
What it looks like: Winter Wrens are very small, about four inches in size. They are dark brown above, buffy brown below with dark barring on their undersides. They look like a darker House Wren with a short stubby tail.
What if the bird isn’t there: In the winter, just going out specifically to find a Winter Wren will be difficult. It is usually better to go birding in general and to happen upon one. The trail across from the Nature Center at Pomfret could also be good for bluebirds, sparrow such as Tree, Song, and White-throated, and hawks perching in the large trees at the edge of the woods.
Conservation status: Least concern.