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Bewick's Wren

Thryomanes bewickii ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: TROGLODYTIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

If you come across a noisy, hyperactive little bird with bold white eyebrows, flicking its long tail as it hops from branch to branch, you may have spotted a Bewick’s Wren. These master vocalists belt out a string of short whistles, warbles, burrs, and trills to attract mates and defend their territory, or scold visitors with raspy calls. Bewick’s Wrens are still fairly common in much of western North America, but they have virtually disappeared from the East.

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Keys to identification Help

Wrens
Wrens
Typical Voice
  • Size & Shape

    Bewick’s Wrens are medium-sized wrens with a slender body and a strikingly long tail often held upright. They have slender, long bills that are slightly downcurved.

  • Color Pattern

    Bewick’s Wrens are subdued brown-and-gray wrens with a long, brow-like white stripe over the eye. The back and wings are plain brown; underparts gray-white; and the long tail is barred with black and tipped with white spots. Males and females look the same.

  • Behavior

    Bewick’s Wrens cock their long tails up over their backs, often flicking their tails from side to side or fanning them as they skulk through tangles of branches and leaves searching for insects. During breeding season, males sing vigorously from prominent perches.

  • Habitat

    Bewick’s Wrens favor dry brushy areas, chaparral, scrub, thickets in open country, and open woodlands near rivers and streams. They are at home in gardens, residential areas, and parks in cities and suburbs.

Range Map Help

Bewick
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Field MarksHelp

  • Adult

    Bewick's Wren

    Adult
    • Long-tailed wren with long, slender bill
    • Dull brown above, dull ashy gray below
    • Gray tail barred black, often cocked up above back
    • White eyebrow
    • © Tripp Davenport, Deep Creek Ranch, Uvalde County, Texas, February 2009
  • Adult

    Bewick's Wren

    Adult
    • Slender, pointed bill
    • Long tailed cocked upwards
    • Ashy gray underparts
    • White eyebrow
    • © Cameron Rognan, Kern River Preserve, Weldon, California, June 2005
  • Juvenile

    Bewick's Wren

    Juvenile
    • Long, barred tail
    • Dull brown above, ashy gray below
    • White eyebrow
    • Juveniles show stubbier bill and faint dark speckling on belly
    • © Robert Matheson, Contra Costa County, California, May 2011
  • Adult

    Bewick's Wren

    Adult
    • Long, pointed bill
    • Long, gray tail barred with black
    • White eyebrow
    • Dull gray underparts
    • © Ganesh Jayaraman, Cupertino, California, January 2010
  • Adult

    Bewick's Wren

    Adult
    • Long tailed cocked upward
    • Long, pointed bill
    • Dull brown above, grey below
    • Pacific birds average warmer brown above
    • © hawk person, California, December 2010
  • Adult

    Bewick's Wren

    Adult
    • Long tailed often cocked up above back
    • Pale brown above, dull gray below
    • White eyebrow
    • Southwest and Texas birds average paler, "frosty" gray above
    • © Tripp Davenport, Deep Creek Ranch, Uvalde County, Texas, January 2009

Similar Species

  • Adult

    House Wren

    Adult
    • Smaller than Bewick's Wren with more uniform brown color
    • Shorter tail and bill
    • No bold eyebrow stripe
    • Heavily marked wings
    • © splinx1, Peoria, Illinois, April 2009
  • Adult

    Carolina Wren

    Adult
    • Similar to Bewick's Wren but chubbier with shorter tail
    • Rich buffy underparts instead of dull gray
    • © Kelly Colgan Azar, Delaware, November 2010
  • Adult male

    Bushtit

    Adult male
    • Similar to Bewick's Wren but smaller and chubbier
    • Tiny, stubby black bill
    • Plain gray face with no eyebrow stripe
    • Small, rounded head
    • © Ganesh Jayaraman, Fremont, California, May 2010
  • Adult

    Wrentit

    Adult
    • Similar to Bewick's Wren but larger, and more elongated
    • Thin, stubby black bill
    • Plain face with no eyebrow stripe
    • Glowing yellow eye
    • © Bob Gunderson, Daly City, California, July 2011

Similar Species

Carolina Wrens are plumper, shorter-tailed, and more reddish-brown than Bewick's Wrens. Their ranges now overlap only in a limited part of the central U.S. Carolina Wrens have a sweet, rolling song, much different from the Bewick's Wren's jumble of notes, which can be reminiscent of a Song Sparrow. House Wrens are smaller birds with shorter tails and are much darker brown overall, particularly the underparts. In the West, Bushtits share habitat with Bewick’s Wrens but are smaller, more slender, plain gray birds that usually travel in small, twittering flocks. Wrentits are an even gray-brown, without the pale underparts or eyebrow stripe of Bewick's Wrens. Their simple, descending, whistled song is quite different from the Bewick's Wren's.

Backyard Tips

If you live within the Bewick’s Wren’s range, you might attract this bird to your yard by landscaping with native shrubs such as willow, mesquite, elderberry, and chaparral plants, or by keeping a brush pile in your yard.

Find This Bird

Listen and watch for Bewick’s Wrens in dry, brushy or scrubby environments in western North America. These birds don't spend a lot of time in the open, so listen for the male's loud song during summer, or for raspy calls coming from tangles of shrubs.