Living Bird Magazine
Winter WrenTroglodytes hiemalis
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Troglodytidae
In the tangled understory of eastern forests, a tiny ball of energy lets loose with a rich cascade of bubbly notes. This songster is none other than the Winter Wren, shaking as it sings its astoundingly loud song. It sports a palette of browns with dark barring on the wings, tail, and belly. It habitually holds its tiny tail straight up and bounces up and down. This rather weak flier hops and scampers among fallen logs mouselike, inspecting upturned roots and vegetation for insects.More ID Info
Find This Bird
In summer, Winter Wrens are often commonly found in evergreen forests near streams with lots of fallen logs and dense understories. Listen for their loud and bubbly song, especially early in the morning during the breeding season (April–July) when you are most likely to find them perched on a stump or low branch in the understory shaking with their singing efforts. In winter they become much more widespread in the eastern United States and move from deep forest into more open or younger woods where they can be easier to find. Listen for their quieter barking call, similar to a Song Sparrow and watch for quick mouselike movements along fallen logs and upturned roots in the understory.
- Chochín Hiemal (Spanish)
- Troglodyte des forêts (French)
Landscaping with native plants is a good way to provide habitat for Winter Wrens. Maintaining areas with dense vegetation and brush piles can provide foraging and maybe even nesting opportunities. Learn more about creating bird friendly yards with native plants at Habitat Network.
- Cool Facts
- Per unit weight, the Winter Wren delivers its song with 10 times more power than a crowing rooster.
- The Winter Wren is almost identical to the Pacific Wren and Eurasian Wren, and the three were considered the same species until 2010. Genetic and other evidence prompted researchers to split them into the Pacific Wren of western North America, the Winter Wren of eastern North America, and the Eurasian Wren of the Old World.
- Where the ranges of the Pacific Wren and Winter Wren come together, in British Columbia, the two almost identical species sing different songs. The males battle each other, but the females seem to choose only mates that sing "their" song—keeping interbreeding to a minimum. Find out more in Living Bird magazine.
- The Americas are the land of the wren: more than 80 species live in North and South America, but only one wren occurs in the rest of the world (the Eurasian Wren).
- The oldest recorded Winter Wren was a female and at least 6 years, 6 months old, when she was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in California in 2009. She had been banded in the same state in 2003.
- Male Winter Wrens build multiple nests within their territory. During courtship, males lead the female around to each nest and the female chooses which nest to use.