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The Wrens of Winter

These little birds make themselves heard.

Updated June 18, 2020

Every spring, when the ground is still cold and covered by a layer of winter-flattened leaves, I hike a trail at the top of a set of brownstone cliffs above Lake Superior. Mayflowers poke their first bright white flowers through the forest duff, fresh emerald-colored moss highlights a forest of rotting logs, and a tiny crystal-clear rivulet bubbles 50 feet below. The scene takes on a special charm when budding treetop leaves sway in the early morning sun and the earthy scent of forest dirt and fiddleheads fills the air. And it’s made magical by a thumb-sized bird with a love song that sounds like a symphony of tumbling, tinkling bells. This is the summer home of the cryptic winter wren (Troglodytes hiemalis).

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