[birding] 1. Wrentit 2. Feeder disease question

Jamie S. woodpecker97330 at yahoo.com
Sat Feb 2 18:51:22 PST 2008


Is it possible your wrentit was a lone bushtit?  They typically are found in groups in winter, but a solitary bushtit is more likely than a wrentit at a feeder.


Joel Geier <clearwater at peak.org> wrote: Hi Cynthia,

I enjoyed the very thorough report from your four cats, but glad to see
you're posting some of your "own" observations too!

If there are multiple birds that seem to be "lame," perhaps it is a
disease affecting their legs. Cornell University runs a good website on
common feeder-bird diseases such as avian pox and salmonellosis; sorry I
don't have the link handy but you might be able to find it with Google,
or else maybe someone else has it handy.

I've never seen a report of a Wrentit visiting a feeder. So that seems
pretty remarkable. Was that a suet feeder? I wonder if it means that the
recent cold & snowy weather has reduced the amount of natural food for
them. If your Wrentit returns to your feeder, it would be very
interesting if you could document its feeding pattern.

According to the species account by Matt Hunter in the book /Birds of
Oregon: A General Reference/, "little information is available on the
diet of the Wrentit .... The Wrentit likely consumes a variety of
berries and invertebrates." I've seen them nibbling on tiny wild-rose
hips in winter time.

As for the distribution of Wrentits ... this is one of the more fun
things to watch in our area, since it seems to be expanding slowly but
steadily from year to year. They're around and fairly common along the
edges of the foothills, but not often seen because they tend to skulk in
dense brush.

One population seems to be spreading up the west edge of the Willamette
Valley, as far as the Grande Ronde area in southern Yamhill County.
There is some question as to whether the Grande Ronde wrentits came
through the Van Duzer corridor from the Coast as a result of
clearcutting in the Coast Range (this is one species that seems to
benefit from that type of forestry), or whether they got there by
spreading north along the edge of the Coast Range, but either way,
they're now present regularly from Corvallis to Dallas and beyond.

What's interesting is that, during an earlier wave of logging in the
1920s & 1930s, Wrentits apparently became established in the Van Duzer
corridor area (specimens were gathered by a Linfield College group of
researchers, as described by Jean-Claire Dirks-Edmonds in her book, "Not
Just Trees"). But after the forests grew back, there weren't many
wrentit reports from that area until the late 1990s, following another
wave of Coast Range logging.
A few Wrentits have also been spreading out into brush habitats on the
valley floor, including in Corvallis where they occur practically down
to the Willamette River in Willamette Park, and around the E. E. Wilson
Wildlife Area which they colonized during 2000-2005 and have since
spread a bit further east.

On the east side of the Willamette Valley, some have made it as far as
the LaComb area in Linn County, also apparently by spreading north along
the edge of the valley.

Happy birding,

Joel Geier
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

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