Half Moon Bay, San Mateo County, California
9 December 2002
We arrived about 10:30 am between rain squalls. Mike Rogers, Ron Thorn, Jim Lomax, Al DeMartini and Tim Steurer were looking for the bird without success. Finally I decided to check the north end of the trail and count the Snowy Plovers. On my way back, I heard the Sedge Wren chipping from the beach side of the trail and saw the bird fly across the trail landing close in very dense shrubbery. I called Robbie on the radio and the other birders arrived. Eventually the Sedge Wren started moving around the bushes, however it was extremely skulking and it afforded mostly brief and partial views.
The following brief description is based on memory 2 hours later.
A very small buffy colored wren. When seen flying across, the entire underparts appeared buffy and the tail was very short.
Eventually I got binocular views of the head, breast and back as the bird skulked close to the ground in dense Baccharis. The breast appeared very buffy throughout, but paler on the throat. The face was warm brown with an indistinct and rather short buffy supercilium. The crown was brownish with small white streaks. The back was blackish with a series of small white streaks, finer than those of a Marsh Wren. The wings were warm brown and finely barred with dusky. I did not see the feet, belly or tail while the bird was skulking. The bill was thin, slightly curved and pointed, and relatively short. The lower mandible appeared pale.
The call was very distinctive. A loud "tschup" sometimes single, sometimes in short series. It was much squeakier than the call of Marsh Wren. I understand a Marsh Wren was seen in this area the first day, but we did not see it. Other birds in the area were Fox Sparrows and Common Yellowthroats.
This is the third Sedge Wren I have seen in California. The following previous records have been reviewed by the California Bird Records Committee:
SEDGE WREN Cistothorus platensis (7,6,1,0) Accepted 1. 4-8 Nov 1980 Bolinas Lagoon MRN 1980-230-5 (ph.) 2. 8 Jun-4 Jul 1986 Little Shasta Valley SIS 1986-263-11 (ph., tape) 3. 23-24 Oct 1986 Ft. Funston SF 1986-443-12 (ph.) 4. 15-17 Oct 1991 Huntington Beach ORA 1991-143-17 5. 26-27 Oct 1997 Big Sycamore Canyon VEN 1997-171-23 ph. (FN 52:127) 6 12 Nov 1999 Saline Valley INY 2000-005-26 Not Accepted, identification not established 16-17 Oct 1994 Hayward Regional Shoreline ALA 1994-188-22
Click here for a sound recording of the Sedge Wren obtained by Alvaro Jaramillo.