Wrentit: Small, noisy songbird with dark gray-brown upperparts, thick streaked, red-brown to buff-brown underparts. Bill is short and black. Tail is very long and dark. Eyes are creamy white, bill is short and gray. Legs and feet are gray. Northern birds have darker upperparts than southern birds.
Range and Habitat
Wrentit: This species is a year-round resident on the Pacific coast of North America from the Columbia River on the northern border of Oregon southward along coastal chaparral into northern Baja California and into the Sierra Nevada foothills of California. Chaparral, shrubs, and brush are its preferred habitats.
The PASSERIFORMES (pronounced pas-ser-i-FOR-meez) is large taxonomic order of one hundred eighteen families of birds that includes the larks, the vireos, and the shrikes, and the babblers.
The babblers, or Timaliidae (pronounced tih-mah-LEYE-ih-dee), are a large family of three hundred and twenty-two species in fifty genera found mostly in Asia and Africa.
There are four species of babblers in three genera that occur in North America (including three species introduced to Hawaii). These are the exotic sounding Red-billed Leiothrix, the Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, the Hwamei, and the Wrentit.
Babblers are most well known for their vociferous behavior (hence the name of the family). Like many members of this family, the loud, distinctive vocalizations of the Wrentit reverberate throughout its brushy habitat while it remains hidden in the dense cover it prefers.
This large, diverse family ranges from birds the size of warblers small to the jay-like laughingthrushes. The few species that occur in North America and Hawaii also vary in size and shape. They have both short and long tails, short wings, fairly long, strong legs and feet, and rather stout bills.
Babblers are mostly plumaged in various shades of brown and gray. Many species have spotting or streaks in their plumages and light colored eyes. Bright colors are limited to a few species such as the Red-billed Leiothrix with its red bill and yellow edging to the feathers in its wings and tail.
Although some members of the Timaliidae utilize non-forest habitats, the majority are birds of tropical forests. The three species that were introduced to Hawaii, the laughingthrushes and the Red-billed Leiothrix, are arboreal birds that occur in thickets and open woodlands. The one species native to North America, the Wrentit, occurs in thick, shrubby habitats of the west coast from northern Baja California to Oregon.
The babbler species that occur in North America do not migrate.
Many members of the Timaliidae are social birds that typically occur in family groups and in mixed flocks with other bird species. They forage for small creatures by gleaning and picking them from nooks and crannies in the thick vegetation.
The babbler species of North America are not threatened. Some species in Asia, though, have very limited ranges and are threatened by destruction of their tropical forest habitats.
Some babbler species are so social in nature that family groups will huddle together while perched.