Birdhouses 101 - Wrens



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Wrens

A Wren belongs to a group of active songbirds that are most abundant in the Americas. Wrens range from about 4 to 9 inches in length. They have a brownish plumage that is usually spotted and streaked with dark brown, black or white with undersides that are often whitish or buff. Wrens have slender bills and short rounded wings while their tails are short and are carried upright.

Generally, Wrens live on the ground where they search among the underbrush for insects and spiders. They are not strong flyers but are able to fly quickly for short distances. Wrens would usually make harsh chattering noises although they have a lyrical song. It is common for a Wren to nest in cavities on the ground or in holes in trees, cliffs and houses. Some build bulky, domed nests on the ground with a tunnel entrance on the side. Wrens also nest in birdhouses, empty cans, mailboxes and other man-made objects. Female Wrens lay from two to ten white or brown eggs. Male Wrens usually build several extra nests to be used for sleeping or for courting females.

Bewicks WrenWrens do not usually visit bird feeders as they are more of an insect eater. However, one sure way to attract these inquisitive birds is to have plenty of water sources either in the form of pedestals, hanging birdbaths or any ground level water source. Wrens appreciate brushy thickets, hedges, farmland, open forest and sub-urban gardens. Another attraction to offer a Wren is the provision of plenty of suet treats around one’s yard. They usually migrate to the Southern portions of their range during the colder winter months.

This bird specie is a voracious nester. Wrens build their nest with grass, plant fibers, leaves, feathers, twigs and just about anything they can find. It is recommended that stashes of various nesting materials be scattered throughout the backyard habitat to make their stay in birdhouses more comfortable.

House WrenOne of the best known species is the House Wren which inhabits Southern Canada and most parts of the United States. It grows about 5 inches long and is light brown with blackish bars on the wings and tail. House Wrens usually live and nest near gardens and houses. Male and female House Wrens look alike although some bird watchers can tell them apart by their attitudes. House Wrens are known to destroy the eggs of other birds nesting near their territory.

Carolina WrenA well known specie of Eastern North America is the Carolina Wren which also grows about 5 inches long. It has reddish-brown plumage above and buff-colored below. The Carolina Wren commonly lives in thickets and in the undergrowth along streams. It is noted for its loud song and will typically sing several songs. It likewise has a series of calls, including a rapid series of descending notes in a similar timbre to its song which functions as an alarm call. It is able to threaten intruders through a very harsh and loud scolding call.

The Bewick’s Wren is a Wren native to North America. It is about 14 cm long with a gray-brown color above and white below. Its appearance is similar to that of the Carolina Wren only that it has a long tail tipped in white. It usually lives in thickets, brush piles and hedgerows, open woodland and scrubby areas, often near streams. The Bewick’s Wren was nicknamed after Thomas Bewick by Audubon. Its song is loud and melodious like the song of other Wrens.

Other species of Wrens include the Cactus Wren which inhabits the arid areas of Mexico and the Southwestern United States and the Winter Wren which inhabits the Old World ranging throughout the Northern part of the Northern Hemisphere. The Cactus Wren sometimes measures nearly 9 inches long and has a distinguishing white stripe over its eye and black spots on it light breast. Its straw nest is built on cactus or thorny bushes. Winter Wrens are about 4 inches long and can be identified by its dark brown color and short stubby tail. Wrens are classified as under the order Passeriformes, family Troglodytidae.

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Carolyn  Ackerman  8/12/2007)
I am interested to know why the wrens all left the end of July this year. It seems very early. I live in Cambridge MN. I have lots of houses for them. I also had up to 4 or 5 separate house with babies in my yard. This is my favorite bird. I sure miss them and their early departure.


Russell Dohman  5/25/2016)
We have a pair of Carolina Wrens which chose to sleep on the inner corner ledges up inside the carport ceiling boxing. There are times when only one is present, both are present, and none are present. We have placed a nesting house under the outdoor boxing, but no interest yet. We have a cedar box feeder with pellets, but except for an initial curiosity, neither has revisited the feeder. We have repeatedly seen the pair in the garden and enjoyed the incredible singing talents. Why would they want to sleep in those carport ledge corners? Do you think they may decide to use the nest box we put up for them for the winter. This is south Louisiana and a rural area which enjoys the blessings of many birds. But these wrens are so much fun! Just wish we would understand their ledge sleeping choice.


franchessica  thompson  5/25/2016)
i think they are beautiful!


franchessica  thompson  5/25/2016)
i think they are beautiful!i havent saw one in person but they are really pretty,no one can resist them!


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