Sedge Wren
Half Moon Bay, San Mateo County, California
9 December 2002
Joseph Morlan

Photos © 10 December 2002 by Hugh Cotter. All rights reserved.
This morning Robbie Fischer and I decided to try again for the Sedge Wren which had been found Saturday, 7 December 2002 by Peter Metropulos. We had missed it by about an hour on Sunday. Don Roberson has posted some interesting photos of the bird at:

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)


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.