Living Bird Magazine
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Paradoxornithidae
The Wrentit’s characteristic bouncing-ball song is a classic sound of coastal scrub and chaparral along the West Coast. Seeing a Wrentit is a challenge as they sneak around inside shrubs, rarely making an appearance. Males and females sing at all hours of the day, all year long, most often hidden from view. With patience, a brownish-gray bird with a piercing white eye might pop out of the shrubs, cock its long tail off to the side, and sing. Wrentits rarely travel far from their territories, so you can enjoy their presence year-round.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Hearing a Wrentit is easy. Seeing one is challenging, but not impossible. Wrentits are often in areas with thick vegetation, but in these areas they are harder to see. Try finding a chaparral or scrubby area within their range that is not too thick with vegetation to make finding one a bit easier. Listen for their characteristic bouncing-ball song, zero in on their location, and patiently watch for movement in the shrub to catch a glimpse. Try positioning yourself in an area with good views of multiple shrubs to increase the chance of seeing one fly between shrubs. Although Wrentits sing all year long, the best time to catch one perched on top of a shrub is early in the breeding season in April and May.
- Camea (Spanish)
- Cama brune (French)
If you live within the Wrentit’s range, you might attract Wrentits to your yard by landscaping with native chaparral plants such as coyotebush, California lilac, manzanita, or California sage. Learn more about creating backyard habitat by visiting the Habitat Network.
- Cool Facts
- Wrentits may pair up as early as 30 to 40 days old and they stay with that mate for the rest of their life.
- Males and females incubate eggs. Females take care of the eggs at night and males jump in to help out early in the morning and again just before dark.
- Wrentits are homebodies and may be the most sedentary bird species in North America. They rarely travel more than 1,300 feet from where they were born.
- Wrentits along the coast and in the more humid areas of the north tend to be darker than individuals living in drier and more interior parts of the range.
- Wrentits live 3.5 years on average. The oldest recorded Wrentit was at least 13 years, 5 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in California.
- Although Wrentits have “wren” in their name they are not wrens at all. They are currently a member of the parrotbill family, but their family status is rather uncertain. One thing is clear; they have no close relatives in the Americas. Their closest relatives are in Africa, Spain, India, and China.