English and Scientific names:

Rock Wren (Salpinctes obsoletus)

Number of individuals: 

One; fine streaking over the breast indicates that this was a juvenile

Locality: LOUISIANA: 

DeSoto Parish 2 miles north of Stonewall

Specific Locality:

Hervey Dairy farm, 150 meters south of home of Hubert Hervey in clay rubble where he is digging a farm pond.  Pond location is located in a pasture adjacent to an existing pond and fence row.

Date(s) when observed:

October 18, 2006

Time(s) of day when observed:  

5:00 PM

Reporting observer and address:

Paul Dickson

Shreveport, LA

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird

Jim Ingold

Hubert Hervey
Pat Hervey

Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Clear sky one and one half hours before sunset.  I viewed the bird from several angles and had good lighting.

Optical equipment: 

Hubert's binoculars, don't recall the make.

Distance to bird(s): 

as close as 10 meters

Duration of observation:

two occasions for about 5 minutes each, once with Hubert and once with Jim


An excavated pit and pond dam under construction.  Soil in the pit and on the dam was in large clods and was gray and orange clay and very dry. We are in drought conditions so the whole area was dry except for a small amount of ground water in the bottom.  The bird hopped about the clods as it would rocks in a rock slide, perching on top of clods and then disappearing under them.

Behavior of bird: 

Perching on top of clods,hiding under them, foraging more towards the upper edge of the pit. I never saw it find food. As soon as I saw the pit and dam and all the bare soil and clods I realized it had to be a Rock Wren. No other wren would be down below ground level in such an barron, inorganic environment.


Medium-small sized gray and white passerine, long tail, long body, long slightly decurved bill.  Tail held out straight and not bobbed or flicked. Bobbed body occasionally by bending legs in pumping motion.  Dark eyeline and no white eyeline on gray face. Throat, chest and belly whitish, crown,nape and back gray with warmer tones mixed with darker gray on tail and abdomen. Flanks salmon-buff. Vent with three distinct dark bars on white. Folded wings similiar to abdomen. In flight, buff tips to all but center retrices seen. Legs and bill dark or black. 


not heard

Similar species:

since a Northern Wheatear was seen in this same pasture some years ago in fall, I considered some similiar postured Old World species such as the wheatears, rock thrushs and stone chats.  None have the long bill and tail.  The gray western form of Bewick's wren is eliminated by the dark eye line, lack of white eye line, tail movement and buff tips on the retrices. House Wren is eliminated by the dark eyeline and lack of a eye ring and the whitish underparts. In short, this was bird alert generated visit, I knew what I was looking for to eliminate all other possibilities and I saw those key field marks.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

photos by Hubert Hervey


Previous experience with this species: 

Seen in the west many times.

Identification aids:

at time of observation:
Sibley before going out to see it.
after observation: none

This description is written from: 


Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 




Paul Dickson

Date and time: 

October 20, 2006