Wrens, a diverse family (Troglodytidae) of predominantly new world songbirds, populate grasslands, marshes and forests from Alaska to the southern most areas of South America.
The ABA lists eleven North American wrens. Species diversity increases to the south, with thirty breeding species identified in Mexico.
Types of Birds
Most wrens share some common physical traits, including small size, brown feathers, stiff tails and long decurved bills.
Wren vocalizations differ from species to species, and most species receive comparatively little credit for their singing skills.
Troglodytidae species are also tend to be cavity nesters, some with an obsessive habit of tagging multiple cavities and bird boxes within their territory during breeding season. This practice may be defensive, with a goal of discouraging competitor nesting and confusing potential predators.
Some species such as the Carolina Wren, the Sedge Wren and the Cactus Wren inhabit a limited geographical area. The house wren and marsh wren range extends across most of North America.
Bewick's wren (Thryomanes bewickii), top picture, inhabit Western brush areas, often in residential locations.
Northern populations tend to migrate in greater numbers than southern populations.
Cactus wrens inhabit the southern border regions of North America from Southern California, east to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas.
A larger than average wren, they spend they day foraging for insects and spiders. Unlike other wrens, they also eat seeds.
Arizona designated Cactus wrens as the official state bird.
The cheerful and often loud singing of Carolina Wrens (Thryothorus ludovicianus) reverberates across many residential areas of eastern North America.
Most of the population resides year round in one location, making them common visitors to back yard feeders.
Like the Bewick's Wren, the tan breasted, brown feathered Carolina Wren sports a white stripe across the eye.
South Carolina designated the Carolina Wren as its official state bird.
Marsh Wrens (Cistothorus palustris), common residents in North American marshes and other wetlands, move easily among the cattails, their preferred breeding habitat.
Males move about their established territory throughout the day, actively engaged in territorial defense and nest building, singing almost constantly.
Females look similar to males and spend most of their time at the nest, typically below the line of site.
Both sexes assume responsibility for feeding the young, and their diet consists primarily of the local insect and spider population.
Winter Wrens (Troglodytes troglodytes), pint sized birds, inhabit North American forest areas.
Typically they can be found close to the ground. Their brown mottled feathers help them blend into the background, making hearing one more likely than seeing one.
Males excel at singing long and loud (for their size at least).
During breeding season, males provide females multiple nests choices, by building nest in tree stumps and spaces between rocks.
© 2004-2012 Patricia A. Michaels