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Photo: Dan Pancamo, via Wikipedia Commons

Easy trivia question: what's the State Bird of South Carolina? Easy answer: the Carolina Wren, one of the most ubiquitous birds in the Lowcountry, as it is for nearly the entire eastern United States, with a range from New England south to northern Mexico, and westward to the Mississippi River.

A cozy nest in an old pair of boots

The Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) is easily identified by its cinammon-brown plumage, white eyebrow stripe and upwardly flicked tail, and can be seen year-round here busily darting and hopping among dense undergrowth and marsh vegetation in search of insects. They'll nest almost anywhere that offers protection from the elements, including eave-sheltered hanging plant baskets, mailboxes, even under the valve lids of propane tanks, as well as in trees and fallen logs. Males and females can pair for life and share in building nests, in which the female will lay up to seven brown-spotted eggs that will hatch in about two weeks. She may brood up to three times a year.

A male belts it out (image (c)

The "teakettle-teakettle" call of these diminutive birds, unexpectedly loud for such a small animal, can be heard year-round. Unlike other wrens, only the male Carolina Wren sings this distinctive call to attract females and warn other males away from its territory. One male Carolina Wren was recorded making the call more than 3,000 times in one twelve-hour period.

You can attract these energetic birds to your backyard during the winter with a suet-stocked feeder and provide nesting sites with brush piles or empty flowerpots. Then sit back and enjoy the music of these lively Lowcountry neighbors. (Listen to the song here)

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