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The state bird of South Carolina is the Carolina wren, as officially designated in 1948. The Carolina wren is a rather small songbird that usually reaches an average length of 4.7 to 5.5 inches (12 to 14 centimeters) and weighs about 0.6 to 0.8 ounces (18 to 22 grams). These birds can typically be found throughout the Southeastern United States and in some parts of Central America. The state bird of South Carolina usually feeds on insects and spiders, and prefers to nest in bushes, vines, or trees about 10 feet (3.05 meters) from the ground. These birds generally mate for life, and will spend much of their time together after mating.
The Carolina wren often prefers a forested habitat, especially one with plenty of undergrowth. They have also been known to thrive in cultivated areas and marshes. These birds are very sensitive to cold temperatures, and are therefore generally found only in warm southern climates. Unlike other species of wren, only the male Carolina wren is believed to sing.
These birds usually subsist on a diet composed largely of insects. Beetles, moths, and caterpillars are believed to be some of their favorite foods. They have also been known to eat seeds. The Carolina wren often feeds from the ground, typically by sorting through fallen leaves with its bill. It has also been known to pluck insects from crevices in tree trunks and branches.
The nest of the Carolina wren is usually mostly enclosed, with an entrance on one side. The state bird of South Carolina has been known to take advantage of man-made nesting habitats, but it will also build its nests in trees and bushes. Nests usually consist of leaves, grass, feathers, hair, and strips of bark. Bits of string, as well as shreds of plastic or paper, have also been found in the nests of Carolina wrens.
The female Carolina wren generally lays three to seven eggs at one time. These eggs are usually whitish and mottled with brown. The eggs typically hatch after an incubation period of 12 to 16 days. The young birds typically begin flying at about two weeks of age.
Prior to the designation of the Carolina wren as the state bird of South Carolina, the mockingbird enjoyed a brief tenure as South Carolina's officially designated bird symbol, from 1939 to 1948. Many people, however, believed the Carolina wren was more representative of the state's avian wildlife, so the mockingbird was eventually replaced.
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