Arizona Field Ornithologist

Sinaloa Wren (Thryothorus sinaloa), Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, Santa Cruz County

This Sinaloa Wren was discovered by Matt Brown and Robin Baxter on 25 August 2008 and photographed that day by Matt Brown.  It was also recorded by Robin at the same time.  The recording is posted below the photograph.   Additional photos and a recording by Chris Benesh from 29 August are posted further down the page.  Pierre Deviche recorded the calls and a long song bout on 3 September 2008.

This is a potential first record for the ABA area.

Key ID Points for Sinaloa Wren:  It has a pale eyeline, rusty tail contrasting with brown back, gray underparts and a few streaks on the sides of the neck.  Similar species of wrens with pale eyelines: Bewick's Wren is smaller and slimmer and has a brown tail with white tips.  Eastern Carolina Wren is bright rusty above and bright buffy below.  Mexican/Texas Carolina Wrens are browner above and less buffy below than Easterns but the tail is also browner and does not contrast with the back.  Happy Wren, which occurs almost as far north in Sonora as Sinaloa Wren, has a boldly striped face, bright buffy or rusty underparts and a browner tail.  The song of the Sinaloa Wren is very distinctive and diagnostic. 

This species is essentially a west Mexican endemic.  It is regular in central Sonora and is reported to be expanding its range northward so that it now can apparently be found within 30 miles of the US border. 

The first photo of the Sinaloa Wren taken by Matt Brown.  Note gray underparts and rusty tail:

25 August 2008, photo by Matt Brown


Robin Baxter's recording of the Sinaloa Wren song made 25 August 2008:

Direct link to the mp3 file:  Baxter Sinaloa Wren Recording

Note that an enthusiastic Western Wood-Pewee is doing its best to superimpose its calls over the Sinaloa Wren in the above recording!

Chris Benesh's recording of the Sinaloa Wren made 29 August 2008:

Direct link to the mp3 file:  Benesh Sinaloa Wren Recording

Pierre Deviche's recording of the calls made 3 September 2008 (note the recording was only of two calls, but it has been copied twice to give you more opportunities to hear the call):

Direct link to the mp3 file:  Deviche Sinaloa Wren Call Recording

Pierre Deviche's recording of a long song bout of the Sinaloa Wren made 3 September 2008 (nearly 3 minutes).  Note that a Bewick's Wren also sings six times in the first half of this recording:

Direct link to the mp3 file:  Deviche Sinaloa Wren Song Recording

For those who want to study the song, there is an excellent commercial recording of this species on "Bird Songs of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico" by Geoffrey Keller


Additional photos taken on 29 August 2008:

29 August 2008, photos by Chris Benesh


These two later shots show the bird perhaps near the completion of the molt it was in when it was discovered:

22 September photograph by Brad Carlson


22 September photograph by John Puschock

Here is the description of the discovery in Matt's own words:

"From approximately 10:00-10:45 this morning, Robin Baxter and I found and followed a singing SINALOA (BAR-VENTED) WREN at The Nature Conservancy's Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve in Patagonia, Arizona. Before packing the car, please bear in mind that the Preserve is closed until 6:30 on Wednesday morning (staff will be away and unavailable to let anyone in on Tuesday), and that when they do open, the use of recording devices, playback, imitations, etc. (even owl-calls), is prohibited, as it is at all Nature Conservancy Preserves.

J. B. Miller, the Preserve manager, graciously granted Robin and me access to visit today, to scout for a fieldtrip on Wednesday, and also granted access to a few reconnaissance experts this afternoon, in hopes of re-
finding the bird. We searched from 2:00 p.m. on and, to my knowledge, THE BIRD HAS NOT BEEN RE-LOCATED. The search will continue tomorrow at first light, at least by me, but the bird moved upstream at least a quarter-mile in 45 minutes, and was missed despite diligent searching throughout the Preserve a mere 4 hour from last contact. In other words, he moves around a lot.

The bird sang loudly and frequently, but would pipe-down for several minutes only to be heard a couple hundred feet further upstream. With the use of a small, digital note-recorder, Robin was able to obtain diagnostic
documentation of its song, and I managed to get only one in-focus picture which is, unfortunately, really quite poorly posed. We had several close, long looks and each saw several fieldmarks including: black-barred, rusty
tail, without white, but in advanced state of wear; whitish supercillium contrasting with reddish-brown crown and back; bill about one-and-a-half times the width and depth of a Bewick's Wren's, and with a distinctly pale
lower mandible; faint dark streaking on side of face, below auricular, bleeding briefly onto neck; larger body and proportionately shorter tail than Bewick's, with that noticeably more substantial and paler bill.

The area the bird covered spans the downstream half of the Creek Trail, pretty much at the interface of the Mesquite/Elderberry/Walnut riparian fringe and the Johnson-grassy interior. He was relatively unafraid, but
highly active, foraging and singing in the middle third of 10-20 foot-tall trees. He spent most of the time far enough away from the creek itself, such that searching from along Blue Haven Road from Patagonia to the stream
crossing wouldn't be unwarranted."

All photos and recordings are copyrighted© by the photographer and/or recordist

Submitted on 26 August 2008