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Decoy Nests of the Western Winter Wren

J. H. Bowles
Publication Information
4 (July-August)
Echoes from the Field
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Decoy Nests of the Western Winter Wren.

I have used the expression "decoy" for the nests that are built by many of our birds, apart from the one used for raising the young. This habit is, perhaps, more characteristic with the wrens than with any other family of our birds, although it is well known as a trait of the Marsh Wrens. The Western Winter Wren, (Troglodytes hiemalis pacificus), can easily claim second place in this peculiarity, if, indeed, it does not fully equal the Marsh Wrens. The number of "decoys" built by one pair of these birds varies from one to at least four, and on one occasion I found eight of these false nests that were strung along the edge of a stream bordered by dense growth of all sizes. These were all in a space about 150 yards long and almost in a straight line, but owing to extreme difficulty in locating them, it is probable that there were more. One thing is painfully certain, that I could not find the right nest, although it must have been in the immediate vicinity. I do not, however, feel justified in claiming that all of these belonged to one pair of birds, as four is the largest number I have ever found in any previous case, but only one bird put in an appearance during my entire search. The "decoys" are never so well constructed as the regular nests, but a few weeks ago I was surprised to find that a pair had made over and lined one of last season and laid one egg. Unfortunately a very wet period of weather soaked the nest so thoroughly that the birds deserted. This seems to supply one very good reason for the apparently superfluous "decoys."


Tacoma, Wash., May 29, '99.

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