House WrenTroglodytes aedon

adult, Western
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult, Eastern
James M. Wedge/VIREO
adult, Western
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult, Western
Rob Curtis/VIREO
House Wren

Family

Description

4 1/2 -5 1/4" (11-13 cm). A tiny bird with a short tail, often held cocked over the back. Dusky brown above, paler below, with no distinctive markings. Winter Wren is similar but smaller and darker, with shorter tail and pale eyebrow.

Voice

A gurgling, bubbling, exuberant song, first rising, then falling.

Listen

harsh rattles
song #4
other calls
song #2
song #3
song #1
scold notes
rattles & chits
excited chit calls

Habitat

Residential areas, city parks, farmlands, and woodland edges.

Range

Breeds from British Columbia east across Canada to New Brunswick, and south to southeastern Arizona, northern Texas, Tennessee, and northern Georgia. Winters north to southern California, Gulf Coast states, and Virginia. Also in tropical America.

Discussion

This wren often nests in odd places such as mailboxes, flowerpots, and even the pockets of coats on clotheslines. When competing for a nest site, the House Wren may throw out the nest, eggs, and even the young of other hole-breeding birds. In the process this bird may kill its competitors, or if they are more powerful, it harasses them by filling the hole with its own nest material. If House Wrens return in spring to find an old nest still in place, they usually remove it stick by stick, then proceed to rebuild, often using the very material they've just discarded. Outside the breeding season, House Wrens are shy and much less in evidence than when they are singing during the breeding season.

Nesting

5-8 white eggs, thickly speckled with brown, in a cup lined with feathers and other soft material contained within a mass of sticks and grass, placed in a natural cavity or bird box.

Similar Species

adult

Canyon Wren

5 1/2 -6" (14-15 cm). Sparrow-sized. Dark rusty above and below, with conspicuous white throat and upper breast.

adult, Western

Marsh Wren

4-5 1/2" (10-14 cm). Smaller than a sparrow. Brown above, pale buff below, with bold white eyebrow and white-streaked back.

adult

Sedge Wren

4-4 1/2" (10-11 cm). A tiny, secretive wren of grassy marshes. Buff-colored, with finely streaked crown and back. Best distinguished by voice and habitat.

adult

Rock Wren

5-6 1/2" (13-17 cm). A sparrow-sized wren, pale grayish brown with a finely streaked breast. Outer tail feathers have whitish or pale buff tips.

adult

Bewick's Wren

5 1/2" (14 cm). Gray-brown above, white below, with white eyebrow and long fan-shaped tail tipped with white.

adult

Carolina Wren

5 1/2" (14 cm). Rich brown above, buff below, with conspicuous white eyebrow.

adult

Winter Wren

4-4 1/2" (10-11cm). A tiny, dark brown bird with a very short tail, narrow pale eyebrow, and heavily banded flanks and belly. See Pacific Wren and House Wren.

adult, breeding

California Gnatcatcher

4 1/2 -5" (11-13 cm). A tiny bird. Gray above, paler below. Male has black crown during summer that extends below eyes. Long black tail, with little white on outermost feathers.

adult

Wrentit

6-6 1/2" (15-17 cm). Uniformly brown, with faintly streaked breast and conspicuous pale eyes.

adult

Pacific Wren

4-4 1/2" (10-11cm). A tiny, dark brown bird with a very short tail, narrow pale eyebrow, and heavily banded flanks and belly.

adult

Brown Creeper

5-5 3/4" (13-15 cm). Smaller than a sparrow. A slender, streaked, brown bird, tinged with buff on flanks, usually seen creeping up tree trunks, using long, stiff tail for support.

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