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Common Name: Wrentit
Scientific Name: Chamaea fasciata

Size: 5.9 inches (15 cm)

Habitat: North America; resident of a narrow strip of coastal habitat in the western coast of North America, being found from Oregon south to Baja California, the north state of the Baja California peninsula.

Found in coastal scrub and montane chaparral, forests with dense shrub understory.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: Unknown amount of mature individuals. This species has had stable population trends however the continued urban development of coastal sage shrub habitats may cause drops in local populations.

Diet: Beetles, caterpillars, bugs, and ants, but also takes small berries and seeds. Gleans insects from twigs and bark.

Breeding: Sexes are alike. The Wrentit has a uniform dull olive, brown, or grayish plumage. It has short wings and a long tail often held high (hence the comparison to wrens). It has a short bill and a pale iris.

Wrentit pairs mate for life, and may be together for more than 12 years. Both sexes incubate and sing to defend the territory. The nest is a tidy open cup made of bark strips held together with insect silk, lined with soap plant or grass, placed in crotch of shrub branches. One to five Greenish blue eggs are laid.

Cool Facts: Wrentits along the coast and in the more humid areas of the north tend to be darker than individuals living in drier and more interior parts of the range.

The Wrentit has been variously placed in its own family, the Chamaeidae, or with the long-tailed tits (Aegithalidae), the true tits and chickadees (Paridae), the "Old World warblers" (Sylviidae), and with the "Old World babblers" (Timaliidae). The American Ornithologists' Union placed the Wrentit in the latter family, giving it the distinction of being the only babbler known from the New World. This was based on DNA-DNA hybridization studies, which are phenetic (grouped by all overall similarities).

Through DNA sequence analysis, it was subsequently discovered that the Wrentit was more closely allied to Sylvia warblers and some aberrant "babblers". They consequently must be placed in the Sylviidae family, together with the Wrentit and the parrotbills, which also turned out to be close relatives. Thus, the Wrentit is the only American species of the "true" or sylviid warblers. Peculiarly, the Dartford Warbler and close relatives like Marmora's Warbler bear an uncanny resemblance to the Wrentit; their ecology is quite similar indeed as all are birds of Mediterranean scrub. However, biogeography and the molecular data build a strong case for this similarity being a case of convergent evolution between birds that are close relatives but by far not as close as their appearance would suggest.

Found in Songbird ReMix Cool 'n' Unusual Birds 3

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