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Carolina Wren

Thryothorus ludovicianus ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: TROGLODYTIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

In summer it can seem that every patch of woods in the eastern United States rings with the rolling song of the Carolina Wren. This shy bird can be hard to see, but it delivers an amazing number of decibels for its size. Follow its teakettle-teakettle! and other piercing exclamations through backyard or forest, and you may be rewarded with glimpses of this bird's rich cinnamon plumage, white eyebrow stripe, and long, upward-cocked tail. This hardy bird has been wintering farther and farther north in recent decades.

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Songs

Only male Carolina Wrens sing—a series of several quick, whistled notes, repeated a few times. The entire song usually lasts less than 2 seconds and the notes are usually described as three-parted, as in a repeated teakettle or germany. Each male has a repertoire of up to several dozen different song variations. He'll sing one of these about 15 times before changing his tune.

Calls

Carolina Wrens have a large repertoire of calls, including loud repeated rasping, chattering, and a rising and falling cheer.

Other Sounds

When they hear an intruder encroaching on their territory, male Carolina Wrens sometimes fly in short bursts, slamming hard into surfaces with an audible whirring of their wings. Wrens in Florida "drum" palmettos in this way, apparently in an attempt to get intruders to show themselves.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Carolina Wrens visit suet-filled feeders during winter. During cold northern winters, they will take shelter in nest boxes containing dried grasses, particularly boxes with slots rather than holes.

During breeding season, these wrens may nest in boxes, but they're just as likely to choose a hanging fern or an empty flowerpot tucked away in a quiet corner of an overgrown back yard. Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. Find out more about nest boxes on our Attract Birds pages. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.

Keeping a brush pile in your yard is a great way of encouraging wrens to take up residence (read more about offering shelter to backyard birds here).

Find This Bird

Listen for the male's loud, piercing teakettle-teakettle song emanating from woody or thickly vegetated areas within the wren's range.