Fr: Troglodyte de Zapata
Ang: Zapata Wren
All: Kubazaunkönig
Esp: Cucarachero de Zapata
Spanish (Cuba): Fermina
Ita: Scricciolo di Zapata
Nd: Zapatawinterkoning
Sd: zapatagärdsmyg


Didier Buysse
Vision d’Oiseaux

Ken Havard
My Bird Gallery & Flickr gallery 1 & Flickr gallery 2

William Price
PBase-tereksandpiper & Flickr William Price

Dubi Shapiro
Dubi Shapiro Photo Galleries

Text by Nicole Bouglouan

Sources :

HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Vol 10 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliott-David Christie - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334725

WRENS, DIPPERS AND THRASHERS by Brewer David – illustrated by Barry Kent Mackay- Yale University Press - ISBN: 0300090595

BIRDS OF THE WEST INDIES – by Herbert Raffaele, Kristin Williams et Tracy Pedersen – Helm – ISBN: 9780713649055

Avibase (Denis Lepage)

BirdLife International

HBW Alive

ARKive (Christopher Parsons)

Arthur Grosset's Birds (Arthur Grosset)

Cuba Explorer - Birds of Cuba - Endemic and near endemic birds of Cuba

Neotropical Birds – Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

EOL – Encyclopedia of Life – Zapata Wren

Animalia Life – Zapata Wren


Home page

Page Order Passeriformes

Page Family Troglodytidae

Summary cards


Zapata Wren
Ferminia cerverai

Passeriformes Order – Troglodytidae Family

The Zapata Wren is the only member of the genus Ferminia. It is endemic to Cuba. This species is confined to the Zapata Swamp of SW Cuba, where it lives in dense bushes.
The scientific name pays tribute to Fermín Z. Cervera who discovered this wren in the late 1920s.
The Zapata Wren is threatened by loss of suitable habitat through drainage, dry-season burning and agriculture expansion. The population is small and declining, and the species is considered Endangered.

Length: 15-16 cm

The Zapata Wren has dark brown upperparts with dark bars extending across both wing-coverts and flight-feathers. The tail is blackish-brown, heavily and narrowly barred with greyish-brown. The rectrices show diffuse and fluffy tips.
On the underparts, chin and throat are buffy-white, but the breast is browner. The flanks are darker brown with conspicuous blackish bars on the lower part. Thighs and vent are brownish with indistinct dark brown barring.

On the head, the crown is blackish-brown with narrow paler brown edges to feathers. The sides of face are mottled brown, and there is an indistinct eye stripe.
The bill is fairly long, with dark brown upper mandible, and paler yellow-brown lower mandible. The eyes are brown. Legs and feet are brownish.
Male and female are similar.   

The juvenile resembles adult but it has fine black speckles on throat, mainly at sides. We can see a breast band formed by larger, but diffuse blackish-brown speckles, whereas the flanks show less distinct barring.

The Zapata Wren is found in the Zapata Swamp on the southern coast of western Cuba.

The Zapata Wren lives in freshwater marshes and lowland savanna. Some scattered bushes and low trees are used as song posts. The main vegetation includes sawgrass (Cladium jamaicensis), and Typha domingensis, a tall aquatic plant. This area has variable water levels depending on the season. 

The Zapata Wren’s call is a low, hoarse “chut chut churr churr…” and it also utters several harsh notes and various sharp “chips”.
The typical song is strong, high and musical, a low guttural note transforming into a beautiful warbler. This song is repeated three times before to be silent for a period. It sings almost year-round, except during harsh weather. The female’s song is shorter and higher-pitched.  
The Zapata Wren is one of the best singers of the West Indies.

The Zapata Wren is sedentary. This species is described as a very poor flier, and it usually flies only over short distances, up to 15 metres.

The breeding season takes place between January and July at least.
The Zapata Wren breeds in sawgrass marshes. The nest is almost spherical. It is made with sawgrass leaves and lined with feathers. There is an entrance of 4-5 centimetres high. Both adults build the nest, usually between 20 and 70 centimetres above the ground.

The female lays two white eggs and incubates alone. She is probably fed at nest by the male. The incubation period is unknown, but usually, it lasts 17-20 days in wren species of similar size. The chicks are fed and attended by both parents.

The Zapata Wren has very restricted range in the Ciénaga de Zapata. It is threatened by drainage of wetlands, fires and agriculture expansion, involving degradation and loss of parts of suitable habitat. Introduced rats and mongooses are usual predators of this species.
The population is estimated to number 600/1,700 mature individuals and is decreasing.
The Zapata Wren is currently considered Endangered.

The Zapata Wren has varied diet including numerous invertebrates such as insects (crickets, bugs, beetles, caterpillars and flies), spiders, small snails and Anolis lizards. It also consumes plant material such as berries, lichens and seeds.
The Zapata Wren forages often on the ground by scratching while searching for preys, and also in low vegetation.

During the breeding season, it is territorial and quarrelsome while chasing intruders away from its territory. Even larger, the Zapata Sparrow is often pursued. The Zapata Wren cocks the tail over its back, like most Troglodytidae. However, the tail is depressed during the song.
The male sings loudly at the beginning of the breeding season in January, and sings again in April, probably prior to a second brood. It sings from low bushes.