The tiny little bird with the big voice and uplifted tail is
common throughout most of North America. The House Wren is cinnamon brown
above, buff or gray below, and has fine bars on the wings and
song and aggressive defense of their territories give the impression of a
much larger bird than their 4-3/4" size. Their bubbling whistle may
be heard in shrubs and bushes, farmyard and gardens, orchards, and
parks. They like the undergrowth and thickets, but others like
nervous little bundles of energy are quick to accept a nesting box for a
home. The number of houses offered them in recent years have
contributed to their increasing numbers, and a house with a small entrance
will protect the House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) and its family from
the dangers most nesting birds encounter.
exuberant personality endears him to humans, but he is sometimes not the
best neighbor to his fellow wrens and other songbirds, visiting their
nests and piercing their eggs with his long, slender bill.
and female look alike, but only the male is the singer, and most of his
singing occurs during courting times. Both sexes give a harsh, scolding
call characteristic of most wrens.
also starts building nests in anticipation of a mate. He will stuff
a house with twigs, nearly enough to exclude himself, and then sometimes
build a nest in another nearby house or cavity. When the female
arrives, she chooses the nest she likes best and lines it with grasses
before laying 5 to 6 speckled eggs in it.
of the male wren can take up several of your birdhouses, leaving fewer for
other songbirds. You may wish to put up more houses. Or, by
observing the wrens, you may discover where the male's territory is (about
half an acre), and move some nest boxes out of that territory. If
you come near a nest, the birds will scold you loudly, letting you know
that a nest is close by.
upturned tail of the wren is not indicative of a happy disposition as
sometimes believed, but generally accompanies their scolding, indicating
that they are disturbed.
Wrens are friendly and will live near human habitation. They prefer
suburban yards or open areas with trees and shrubs nearby. The House
Wren migrates to southern states for the winter.
Wren's cousin, the Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus), is
reddish brown above, buff or gray below, and has a conspicuous white line
above and behind the eye. It is a little larger than the House Wren,
being about 5-1/2" long. Its range includes the southeastern states,
up to southern New England.
Wren (Thryomanes bewickii) is found in the southwestern states and
along the west coast. It is the size of a Carolina Wren, dark and
unpatterned with a longer tail, white belly and a white eyestripe.
Carolina Wren sings a "tweedle-tweedle" song, and Bewick's Wren sings a
long string of melodious notes. They will both nest in almost
anything: boxes, tin cans, coat pockets, mailboxes, and fence-post
holes. They will use leaves, grass, feathers, moss, hair and wool
for nesting material. Bewick's Wren are often year-round residents, rather
than migrators. But a harsh winter may take its toll on them, so it
is a good idea to keep the bird house up all year or provide a winter
primarily on insects, but they may be attracted to a feeder by suet,
peanut butter, and sunflower seeds. They prefer living in thickets
and swampy areas, as well as on rocky slopes covered with brush.