The house wren is a perky bird with tons of personality. While its coloring may be bland, these small birds are always a bright spot on a birder’s life list.
House Wren, Common Wren
- Bill: Thin, gray-brown, slightly curved
- Size: 4.75 inches long with 6-7-inch wingspan, long tail
- Colors: Beige, buff, black, brown, gray
- Markings: Male and female birds look alike with a beige or grayish head and back. A thin white eye ring and faint eyebrow may be visible. The chest and upper abdomen are pale gray, while the lower abdomen, tail and rump are darker brown with narrow black bars. The eyes are dark and the legs gray.
Insects, spiders, snails
Habitat and Migration:
House wrens are common birds in forests, parks and backyards throughout the continental United States and southern Canada in the summer. In winter, these birds migrate to the southeastern United States as well as southern Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Populations can be found year round in southern California, southern Mexico and South America.
During the nesting season, house wrens are very vocal and have a bubbly, rapid chatter that gets lower in pitch near the end. During the winter months, they are much less vocal.
House wrens are perky birds that can be loud, bold and hyperactive during the nesting season. They are also extremely competitive for nesting sites and may invade other birds’ nests to puncture and destroy the eggs. They frequently hold their tail cocked upward when perched. In the winter, they become more reclusive and shy but can still be found in shrubs and other sheltered areas.
House wrens are generally monogamous but can be polygamous depending on the individual birds. Males will begin building nests in several sites as part of their courtship rituals, and the females will complete the nests they want to use. The female parent incubates 6-9 eggs for 14-15 days, and both parents will feed the young birds for 12-18 days. Pairs of house wrens will have 2-3 broods per year.
Attracting House Wrens:
House wrens are common backyard birds that readily nest in birdhouses. To attract these birds, avoid using insecticides that would remove their preferred food sources, and do not remove any unoccupied nests that females may find attractive. House wrens may also visit suet feeders.
- Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
- Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)
- Rock Wren (Salpinctes obseletus)
Photo – House Wren © Brian Ralphs