Cistothorus palustris


The Marsh Wren is a secretive bird and tends to remain well hidden, even when defending its territory. The male takes several mates, each of which builds its own nest. The male also builds up to half a dozen "fake" nests, which are often incomplete and used as a roost. These "fake" nests may be used to fool would be predators.

The songs of the eastern Marsh Wren are slower and more musical than those of western birds, which incorporate a wider range of harsh grating sounds. The eastern birds have a repertoire of about 50 songs, while western birds typically have about four times as many.

This wren feeds entirely on insects it takes from plants and the water surface.


Brown upperparts. Dark brown unstreaked crown. White throat and breast. Buff belly and flanks. White supercilium. Short, thin bill. Black and white barring on wings and tail. Rufous colored tail. Often holds tail in upright position. Sexes similar. 4 to 5.5 inches in length.


Freshwater and brackish marshes with cattails, reeds, or bulrushes.


5-6 pale brown eggs with dark brown speckles. The eggs have a 12-16 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in 13-16 days. The nest is a reed and cattail dome-shaped structure with a side entrance. The nest is anchored to reeds and lined with feathers and cattail down.

Observed Locations:

  • Wild Animal Park, Escondido

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Copyright © Scott Streit, 2000.