Published On: Wed, Jul 22nd, 2015

BACKYARD BIRDING IN MERIDA, YUCATAN AND BEYOND-WREN OVATION: YUCATAN WREN

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Cherie Pittillo, “nature-inspired,” zoologist, photographer, and author explores nature everywhere she goes. She’s identified 56 bird species in her Merida, Yucatan backyard view. Her weekly column features anecdotes about birding in Merida and beyond. Contact her: all4birdies@gmail.com All photos and text ©Cherie Pittillo

Note from the Editor: during the following months The Yucatan Times will be re-publishing Cherie Pittillo’s 2012 and early 2013 columns, since some of these masterpieces of graphic nature photography have been deleted from our backup records due to technical difficulties, plus Cherrie will be tweaking some of the texts in her unique style and also adding some new photos.

But also because our friend, our dear Cherrie will be going through an open heart surgery on Tuesday August 4, at a Hospital in the United States. We want to ask all of our readers to please say a prayer for her, and let’s all send the good vibes for Cherrie to recover soon from her operation and be back doing her two passions in life: birdwatching photography and writing.

Yucatan Wren, Campylorhychus yucatanicus, Matraca yucateca (Spanish), X ya’an kotil or Chocua’ (Mayan)

Yucatan Wren

Yucatan Wren

Why should the Yucatan Wren receive a standing ovation? This endemic species doesn’t exist anywhere else on earth! As a unique, native bird, it lives along a narrow strip of the north coast of the Yucatan state from the Celestun Biosphere Reserve* to El Cuyo. On one hand that’s an exciting claim. On the other, coastal development threatens its narrow limited range. It would be “heart-wren-ching.”

Yucatan Wren on palm tree

Yucatan Wren on palm tree

This striped, streaked, spotted, seven-inch species is a master of camouflage in its coastal, dry scrub habitat. The first time I saw it, the coloration reminded me of a Cactus Wren. Plus cacti were nearby its low perch. Scientists previously identified it as a Cactus Wren subspecies, but now confirm it a separate species.

Yucatan Wrens easily blend into their environment

Yucatan Wrens easily blend into their environment

The Yucatan Wren forages in pairs or family groups on the ground and in thorny undergrowth. References don’t agree whether it only eats insects, but also lizards and fruits. I’ve photographed these largest wrens in our region off sandy roads in Celestun, across from the old shrimp farm in Sisal, and in the cactusey, thorny scrub from Chuburna Puerto to Telchac Puerto.

Family Group of Yucatan Wrens

Family Group of Yucatan Wrens

I’m especially fond of a couple that lives on the grounds of a secluded beach hotel near Telchac Puerto. Usually their calls greet me and then I search the undergrowth to locate them. The first time I heard their raspy, husky growls, I thought of chattering monkeys or two people fussing at each other. Click on the 52-1:20 seconds in the first link, a “wrendition” of several calls followed by a male’s song in the second link:

 

http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/8800/campylorhynchus-yucatanicus-yucatan-wren-mexico-yucatán-l-irby-davis

http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/136309/campylorhynchus-yucatanicus-yucatan-wren-mexico-yucatán-michael-andersen

Two Yucatan Wrens vocalize

Two Yucatan Wrens vocalize

One study describes that the male builds several nests and “wrenders” one to a female for their “wrendezvous.” Although he is a master of “wrenovation,” he doesn’t “wrent” the other nests. Each nest resembles an upside down boot with a tunnel entrance.

Yucatan Wren nest looks like an upside down boot

Yucatan Wren nest looks like an upside down boot

Another study indicates the male constructs nests about four to six feet about ground in eleven tree species from the coastal dunes to the mangrove forest. Of those trees, 75% of nests occur in only three tree species. That dependency also limits their range.

Yucatan Wren pair at hotel

Yucatan Wren pair at hotel

Just like the Yucatan Wren, go “wrenew” your outdoor appreciation with friends. Go coastal!

*The Celestun Biosphere Reserve also includes part of the extreme northwestern Campeche state.

Yucatan Wren looks over its shoulder

Yucatan Wren looks over its shoulder

DISCLAIMER: References do not agree on details about this species. Here are my resources: Sal a Pajarear Yucatan Guia de Aves, A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America, Birds and Reserves of the Yucatan Peninsula,Common Birds of the Yucatan Peninsula, http://macaulaylibrary.org/, a website from Cornell Lab of Ornithology,

http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1676/08-164.1?journalCode=wils,

http://ibc.lynxeds.com/species/yucatan-wren-campylorhynchus-yucatanicus,

http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=529836

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  1. Dianne and Roger says:

    Bless your heart, indeed, Cherie! Speedy recovery.
    Will miss new columns until you are healthy and back at it!

  2. Diane Nunn says:

    Bless your heart over and over again! Where will the surgery be done?
    Healing will be thorough and quick as you have been a good health steward. Much love and right arm waving! ♥

    • Cherie Pittillo says:

      Thanks for the love and that lovely right arm. Mission Heart Tower, Asheville, NC. Fabulous surgeon, Dr. Groh!

  3. Robin Parton says:

    Cherie,
    Wishing you the best on your heart surgery,Dr. Groh is the best. If I can do anything for you while you are there just let me know.

  4. Ingrid Jerne says:

    All my best wishes with the surgery. I hope you will recover soon and charm us again with your wonderful bird pictures and witty commentary in the near future. Un abrazo,Ingrid

  5. Missy says:

    I have a family of these guys in my yard and I love their crazy noises! One year they made a best in my Bougainvillia and I was able to take some good pictures of the babies. I can personally confirm that they eat all manner of small living creatures, having watched them brutally stab to death many little lizards and beetles on my patio, thank you very much.

    Wishing you a very successful surgery, a speedy recovery and a safe journey! Thank you for the great writing and photos 🙂

  6. Barbara MacKinnon says:

    Cherie – for some reason, I never saw these pictures so the article was NEW for me! I rather imagine you coming out very much on top of it all following surgery, but I do think it would be a good idea to keep your puns to yourself before you go under in case your doctor takes to them as I do- moaning and groaning!! Ha! Ha! Ha! Will be in touch……….

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