The Wren from Sinaloa

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Sinaloa Wrens nest building at El Aribabi, Sonora (photo Gordon Karre)

Sinaloa, the Mexican state that lies along Sonora’s southern border, is well known for the popular beach-front tourist destination, Mazatlán. You might also associate it with a major drug cartel, but if you’re a birder you’ll probably think first of its namesake bird, the beautiful Sinaloa Wren, Thryophilus Sinaloa. The Sinaloa Wren is endemic to western Mexico, and just 21 years ago was unknown north of Alamos, deep in southern Sonora. However, by 2006 it had expanded its range into central and northern Sonora, and ultimately made its first appearance in Arizona in August, 2008, in Patagonia. Today, 12 years later, Sinaloa Wrens continue to appear in Arizona rarely but expectedly, and although they have not been seen in Patagonia for 6 years, for the past 3 years single birds have been found in both the Tubac area and in Ft. Huachuca. Sinaloa Wrens have not yet been found in any other U.S. state, nor has more than a single bird been found, so it’s still a crowd-drawing event when one is reported here.

 

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Sinaloa Wren at nest, El Aribabi, Sonora (photo Pete Baum)

This may well change, however, since the wren now is routinely found nesting at Rancho El Aribabi on the Cocospera River just 35 miles south of the Arizona border. We visited El Aribabi in May, 2014, and although we never saw a Sinaloa Wren, we clearly heard one singing, a loud but harmonious song that competed well with the clatter of Yellow-breasted Chats. We returned to El Aribabi again this May, and this time found two pairs of Sinaloa Wrens building purse-like grass nests draped across riparian tree branches. Each monogamous pair sallied out to find grass and fine twigs, added them to the growing nest and, as they flew away, broke into song.

 

We videotaped two minutes of this nest-building and singing activity, which can be found on YouTube here.  This song is well-described as ‘complicated and harmonic.’

This beautiful bird has moved 400 miles north of Sinaloa in just 2 decades, and is now nesting 35 miles south of Arizona. I think it’s safe to bet it won’t be long before she loses her endemic status in Mexico. After all, birds can’t read and they have wings.

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About Bob

A lifelong naturalist, Bob's avocation is birding, including field observation, study, photography and writing. He spent a career in computers and consulting, but his free time has been spent outdoors backpacking, fishing and enjoying nature firsthand. Bob has traveled extensively, exploring and photographing above and underwater in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Egypt and throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America. Now retired, as an amateur ornithologist Bob studies, photographs and writes primarily about birds of the Western Hemisphere. Formerly the Feature Writer for Latin America and Caribbean Travel at Suite101.com, he has been Suite101's Feature Writer for Birds and Birding since January, 2010, and has received seven Editor's Choice awards, which are listed below. Bob also writes a monthly birding column for a newspaper in Arizona, and his work appears in the travel magazine, Another Day in Paradise, published in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. His blog, Birding the 'Brooke and Beyond, discusses birding, travel and other topics in Southeast Arizona and beyond. Bob is a member of the National and Tucson Audubon Societies, Western Field Ornithologists, Arizona Field Ornithologists, the American Birding Association and other birding and conservation organizations. Bob and his wife, Prudy, live in the Santa Catalina Mountain foothills near Tucson, Arizona. To date, Bob has received Suite101 Editor's Choice awards for the following articles: • Birding by Cruise Ship in the Caribbean • The Xantus' Hummingbird, Baja California's Only Endemic Hummer • Birding the White Mountains in and Around Greer, Arizona • The Greater Roadrunner, New Mexico's State Bird • Where to Find Steelhead on the Lower Deschutes River in Oregon • Birding La Bajada near San Blas, Mexico • The 2008 Christmas Bird Count at Estero del Yugo in Mazatlan
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