Breeding Bird Atlas 2 Species Accounts
- Very local, trend not established
- Conservation action urgent
- Endangered Species
Few Sedge Wrens sing today from many of the places across the state where they were once well established. As their name suggests, Sedge Wrens prefer to nest in wet meadows of grass and sedge. Though they are small and elusive, they share the trait of a loud and distinctive voice with many other wren species. They are state listed as Endangered in Massachusetts today, but such was not always the case.
Historic StatusThe Fresh-Water Marsh Wren (or later the Short-billed Marsh Wren, as the species was formerly called) moved eastward from the central portion of the United States as Europeans settled the continent, and in 1839 was described as a “summer visitor, not uncommon” (Peabody 1839). More telling, though, was the comment under the Salt-Water Marsh Wren (today’s Marsh Wren) in that same report suggesting that the species was “not so common as the preceding.” By the early twentieth century, the status had been reversed, with Edward Howe Forbush describing the Sedge Wren as “not as common as the other species,” (Forbush 1907). Loss of freshwater wetlands throughout the rest of the twentieth century robbed the Sedge Wren of its nesting habitat.
Atlas 1 DistributionThough it may never have been a common breeding species in the Bay State, to all appearances Sedge Wrens were seemingly making their last stand against extirpation in Massachusetts during Atlas 1. A trio of lonely blocks scattered across the state were the only signs of breeding activity at that time. The Berkshire Transition Confirmation was in an old sedge-dominated Beaver pond in Blandford, whereas the Connecticut River Valley nest was found in Hadley near a hay field that had hosted Sedge Wrens prior to the Atlas 1 period. The single Possible block in the Coastal Plains may have represented a late wanderer or simply a lonely male, but even if it was a bona fide nesting location, Sedge Wrens clearly deserved their current status as an Endangered species in the Commonwealth.
Atlas 2 Distribution and ChangeUnfortunately, Sedge Wrens had not profited much from their protected status by Atlas 2, and the species remained one of the rarest of the state’s regularly occurring breeding birds. They were only found in 8 blocks during Atlas 2, an increase since Atlas 1, but still a precariously low distribution, with no persistence exhibited in any one block.
Atlas 1 Map
Atlas 2 Map
Atlas Change Map
|Atlas 1||Atlas 2||Change|
|Ecoregion||# Blocks||% Blocks||% of Range||# Blocks||% Blocks||% of Range||Change in # Blocks||Change in % Blocks|
|Marble Valleys/Housatonic Valley||0||0.0||0.0||1||2.6||12.5||1||2.6|
|Lower Berkshire Hills||0||0.0||0.0||1||3.2||12.5||1||3.7|
|Connecticut River Valley||1||1.8||33.3||2||3.1||25.0||1||2.1|
|Lower Worcester Plateau||0||0.0||0.0||1||1.3||12.5||0||0.0|
|S. New England Coastal Plains and Hills||1||0.4||33.3||1||0.4||12.5||0||0.0|
|Bristol and Narragansett Lowlands||0||0.0||0.0||0||0.0||0.0||0||0.0|
|Cape Cod and Islands||0||0.0||0.0||0||0.0||0.0||0||0.0|