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House Wren

Troglodytes aedon ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: TROGLODYTIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A plain brown bird with an effervescent voice, the House Wren is a common backyard bird over nearly the entire Western Hemisphere. Listen for its rush-and-jumble song in summer and you’ll find this species zipping through shrubs and low tree branches, snatching at insects. House Wrens will gladly use nestboxes, or you may find their twig-filled nests in old cans, boots, or boxes lying around in your garage.

Birds of North America Online
Be a Better Birder Tutorial 4

Songs

  • Song
  • Song
  • Song
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Both males and females sing. Males often sing 9-11 times per minute during breeding season. Songs are a long, jumbled bubbling introduced by abrupt churrs and scolds and made up of 12-16 recognizable syllables. Females sing mainly in answer to their mates shortly after pairing up; their songs can include high-pitched squeals unlike any sounds males make.

Calls

  • Song, scolds
  • Calls
  • Calls
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

House Wrens make a variety of harsh sounds: churrs, chatters, rattles, and scolds, often in response to large animals that might be predators. For this reason, they can often be coaxed into view with squeaks or pishing sounds.

Other Sounds

Adults may snap beaks softly while harassing predators near the nest.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Wrens love brush piles for cover, protection, and a source of insects. If you need to prune trees or cut brush in your yard, consider heaping the cuttings into a pile as a safe place for birds to gather. More tips for attracting birds

Find This Bird

As with many birds, your ears can help lead you to House Wren sightings. Start in the right habitat: backyards, parks, or open woods, then listen. The song can be hard to learn at first, because the notes are nondescript and variable, and because there’s simply so much of it – so loud and insistent - that it’s hard to believe such a small bird is making it.

Get Involved

House Wrens are a great bird to get started with in Project NestWatch

Visit the NestWatcher's Resource Center to learn how to build a nest box for small songbirds such as wrens

You Might Also Like

Listen to the songs of House Wrens and watch video clips from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library archive

House Wren from Bent's Life Histories of North American Birds (1948)

Find in-depth information on House Wrens and other hundreds of other birds for as little as $5 in The Birds of North America Online from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Ornithologists' Union

House Music: Sizing up the vocal virtuoso in your backyard. Story in BirdScope