Friday, September 14, 2018

Carolina Wren in South Porcupine

On the morning of August 27, I heard the loud, distinctive Carolina Wren song a few times from my kitchen window.  Having heard this species on our 2 trips to Point Pelee this spring and summer, I knew it sounded like a Carolina Wren. I eventually located the bird in my backyard, hiding in the vine-covered hedge and singing a variety of songs and making loud rattle calls.  I managed to get good views and a photo when it perched briefly on a pole.

Carolina Wren / Troglodyte de Caroline
South Porcupine (27 August 2018)

Carolina Wrens are rare in Cochrane District and in Northern Ontario in general.  The only other documented sighting of Carolina Wren in our district was even more surprising, as it was found in Moosonee on September 30, 2012 by Josh Vandermeulen, Alan Wormington and Mark Jennings.   I believe the 2012 Moosonee Carolina Wren was the first OBRC record for Cochrane District and the 6th for the Northern Ontario region.  It was also the most northerly record for Ontario.

As for non-documented sightings, I'm sure there are more, since not many people report their sightings in our vast region. I received a message about a Carolina Wren that apparently overwintered once in Timmins many years ago but after reading 36 full OBRC annual reports, I couldn't find any documentation about this event.  I don't doubt that it occurred; I wish we had dates and more details. Documentation and OBRC reports are important.

Here are the OBRC records I could find for Carolina Wrens in Northern Ontario. It's interesting to note that all of them occur in fall (except 1 in winter) and some attempts are made at overwintering.  

Cochrane District Records:

South Porcupine (Cochrane District) 27 August 2018 - Continuing
Moosonee (Cochrane District) 30 Sept 2012

Timiskaming District Records:

Englehart (Timiskaming District) 13 Oct 2017
New Liskeard (Timiskaming District) 8 October to 8 December 2016
New Liskeard (Timiskaming District) 15 December 1988 to  15 February 1989

Northwestern Ontario Records:

Marathon (Thunder Bay District) 14 & 20 August 2012

Atikokan (Rainy River District) 15 November to 23 December 1990

Algoma Records:
Michipicoten River (Algoma) 10 November 2012 to 6 January 2013

The Carolina Wren visiting our neighbourhood is still here today.  It sings on and off every day from sunrise to sunset, and it visits the bird bath occasionally.  Our backyard seems to be a suitable habitat for it; it is surrounded by a big tangled mess of overgrown hedge (Cedar and Siberian pea-shrub) that are covered in vines. It's quiet and there are lots of hiding spots. 
Carolina Wren / Troglodyte de Caroline
South Porcupine (10 September 2018)

I'm really enjoying the wren's various songs (it's actually singing as I am writing this!) I am curious to see if it will attempt to overwinter here.  Our winters are harsh, cold and long; it's not uncommon to have extended periods below -40°C.  I have purchased many bags of mealworms in case it decides to stay.  And as soon as the black bears go into hibernation, I will be able to put out seeds and suet.


  1. Nice find, I'm on the edge of their range and I rarely even see them here.

    That's interesting hearing about bears and bird feeders, something I don't think about since we don't have them down here.

    1. Thanks! Yes, black bears are a very common sight in town in September (and spring) and we often get them in our yard (3 times just this week) so we can't feed the birds; we try our best to not attract them. All I can do now is hide a small mealworm feeder for the wren on cold days.