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San Luis Rey River—Winter Wren, 8–10 Dec, 2023 (no public access)

7:13 pm

On 8 December, Jim Pawlicki was fortunate to encounter a WINTER WREN along the upper San Luis Rey River in north San Diego County. With permission, Jim and I returned to the location on 10 December and obtained additional documentation of the bird.  A recording of the call notes can be found in Jim’s eBird checklist here:, and photos and additional recordings of calls are in the eBird checklist here:

This Winter Wren shows a nice suite of field marks distinguishing it from Pacific Wren—a noticeably paler throat contrasting with a plain brown chest, some white speckling on the shoulders, pale off-white barring visible on the outer primaries, and more grayish about the face and auricular area.  Analysis of the calls shows a typical spectrogram for Winter Wren, being a slightly longer call with discrete harmonics and energy concentrated in the lower 2–4 KHz range, giving it a sort of drier, clucking quality. This is in comparison to the faster, higher-pitched call of Pacific Wren showing more energy in the higher 6–8 KHz range.  More information and examples can be found at Nathan Pieplow’s blog about Pacific Wren versus Winter Wren calls here:

Jim took the time today to visit personally with the landowners, and explained the rarity of the bird and expected activities of interested visitors, but unfortunately they have declined public access.  We appreciate this is frustrating but would like to remain fully respectful of the property owner’s decision regarding this matter.  If anything changes in the future we will make the appropriate notifications.

If you have any questions regarding this observation, you can contact Jim at: jmpawli10@…

Gary Nunn,

San Diego, CA