• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer

Winter Wren


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

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.


Male Winter Wrens sing a cascading, bubbly song that lasts about 5–10 seconds. Each song is made up of dozens of bell-like notes that they combine and change up from time to time. Males sing from elevated perches especially early in the season when they are establishing territories and while they are building the nest. Their songs are somewhat slower and their notes are slightly more distinct than their western counterpart, the Pacific Wren.


  • Songs, calls
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Winter Wrens give a call similar to the barking call of a Song Sparrow, a rather squeaky klip. Male and female both call, sometimes repeating the notes depending on how agitated they are.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

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.

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.

Get Involved

Join the Great Backyard Bird Count and tell us how many species you see in your yard. Find out more at Great Backyard Bird Count.



Or Browse Bird Guide by Family, Name or Shape
bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. You can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell or give your email address to others.