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Wrentit

Chamaea fasciata ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: SYLVIIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

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.

Songs

Wrentits sing a distinctive song reminiscent of a ball bouncing that lasts for about 4 seconds. In males this starts out as 3 to 5 pits followed by an accelerating trill; the ball bounces away. Females also sing but they catch the ball and sing only 3 to 14 pits without the accelerating trill. Both sexes sing at all hours of the day, all year long, although they are more vocal within the first hour after sunrise and early in the breeding season.

Calls

Wrentits give a churring call which sounds similar to someone rolling their r's. Wrentits give louder more emphatic calls when scolding a predator or intruder.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

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.

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.

Get Involved

Find out how to landscape with native plants to create habitat for Wrentits and other birds at Habitat Network.

You Might Also Like

Read more about Wrentit's home in Birding California’s Central Coast, Living Bird, Summer 2008.

Learn more about Old World warblers in Counterpoint: 7 Ways European Warblers Outperform American Warblers, All About Birds, August 1, 2012.

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