Panther Island Adventures!

Panther Island is 2,800 acres of restored wetland and upland habitats situated in the northwest corner of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary's 13,000 acres. It is home to numerous plants and animals including the Florida panther and the iconic wood stork.
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Friday, November 16, 2012

New Critter: Marsh Wren

Well I have fallen in love...again. This time the tiny object of my affection is the marsh wren. With a musically engaging song, these little guys live in different types of marsh habitat, but they prefer areas dominated by reeds and/or cattails. For their size, they draw attention to their general vicinity with their vociferousness, singing during the day and night. But be fast! Once you isolate the area the song is coming from you'll have to be ready with those binoculars to spot them. They actively move around on or close to the marsh floor where they glean insects and spiders, their primary food sources.

Winter residents of Florida, I'll have to journey northward to their summer breeding grounds to actually see a marsh wren nest. Their nests are domes constructed of sedges, grasses, and reeds that are lashed to the sides of other vegetation, especially common on bulrushes and cattails. An entrance is constructed that typically faces to the south or west. Look for the nests in clumps of these vegetation types about 1-3 feet above the water. The males build the nests and will often have a series of partially built "homes" (grouped in an area called his "courting center") in his territory before his mates arrive. When a female enters his territory, he will woo her with his song. Hopefully she stays! If she does, then she has options of nests to choose from or she can always build her own.

These beautiful and charismatic little songbirds are in a decline in the eastern US, primarily due to habitat loss and degradation. There is, however, a slight increase in the western population. These two subspecies show just small variations in appearance. However the songs differ greatly and some people believe them to be two distinct species.