Rock Wren

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Rock Wren

Post by CarlRaillard » Tue May 05, 2020 5:38 pm

Hello. Long rambling post, here, about one of my favorite Sierra birds. I'll begin with an eyewitness account, on Pincushion Peak, a mountain that does not receive may visitors.
I bagged this obscure peak a number of years ago. There was a tall shape on its summit; when seen from a distance it looked like a man. However, as I approached the summit, I could see it wasn’t a man; it was a pillar of stones, neatly stacked. I recognized it as a Basque Stone Boy (in their language, an arri mutillak). It looked similar to this: ... -biedeman/
The above link shows a pair of these things, which a botanist encountered in the Bodie Hills.

On Pincushion Peak, another dead giveaway -- that the tall thing wasn’t a man -- was its musical hat. The Stone Boy was wearing a small bird, as a hat, and the bird was singing his heart out. The songster was Rock Wren. Here is the bird’s data file:

Although not closely related to mockingbirds, these birds have a similar gift for mimicry. They like to pour out a medley of chirps, trills, and whistles, one after the other, in close succession. Cheerful little characters.

On another backpacking trip, I crossed a nameless pass above Breeze Lake, in Yosemite, and descended into the Ansel Adams Wilderness. As I was approaching Blackie Lake, a saw a trio of Rock Wrens, and one of them was an albino! It was snow-white, with a hint of red in the eyes. It’s the only albino animal I’ve ever seen in the wild. If the creature hadn’t been in close association with two normal-colored siblings, I wouldn’t’ve known, for sure, what it was.

Last year Bob Burd was prowling through the Bodie Hills. On a nameless summit he encountered a bird. “A small bird kept flitting about surprisingly close to me, as though it were used to getting handouts.”
He posted photo: ... 00016.html

Obviously a Rock Wren!

Around Mount Whitney the Rosy-crowned finches are super-friendly; they land on your outstretched hand, because they do, in fact, receive gifts of food. However, I seriously doubt Bob’s bird was expecting a handout. A nameless hillock in the Bodie Hills, which only a fanatical peak-bagger would climb, is not going to have a population of animals that’ve graduated from the Olmstead Point School of Culinary Arts. That Rock Wren was genuinely curious about Bob. Its courage was authentic, and not the artificial effect of granola-bribery.

I’ve encountered a Rock Wren that behaved similarly to what Bob saw. The incident occurred in the basin of Basin Mountain. Please see the attached artmap, (which I did for an old California Explorer article.) This is a picturesque mountain close to Bishop. There is an old mining road that leads to a waterless cirque, a dramatic place encircled by stone towers. The day was hot and sunny, and so I sat down in the shady side of a derelict mining structure. Suddenly a bird appeared, perched on top of the structure. It was a Rock Wren. It eyed me, flitted off, and then returned. It landed close to me, within a yard, and gave me a sharp look. I was dumbfounded. The bird’s fearlessness caught me by surprise.

Question: Has anybody else had similar experience, with a chummy Rock Wren?

Carl Raillard
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Fun drawings of wild country.

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