House Wren

Common Name: House Wren.

Scientific Name: Troglodytes Aedon.

What to look for?  The bird identification books use words like “plain” and “nondescript” – how unkind! House Wrens are small and compact. They are a subdued brown overall with a grayish breast. They have a darker barring on their wings and tail. They have a flat head, paler throat, and a thin, curved beak. Wren species, in general, have a characteristic pale eyebrow; however, the eyebrow of the House Wren is much fainter. The House Wren is short-winged – its wingspan only slightly longer than its body length.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? A House Wren may be hopping through the branches of trees or in the shrubs around Carillon Stonegate Pond.  Summer is best time of year. You may hear them before you see them.

How big are they? House Wrens average approximately five (5) inches in length. And their wingspan is approximately six (6) inches. They weigh in at around one-third (0.33) of an ounce.

What are their flight patterns? The House Wren flies with shallow, rapid wing beats while taking short flights. Their migration flying takes place largely at night.

How else do they behave? House Wrens are energetic - hopping quickly through tangles and low branches. House Wrens are busy foragers in low tree branches and shrubs. They frequently pause to deliver cheerful, trilling songs. House Wrens are aggressive. They are very territorial and are usually found alone, in pairs, or in small family groups.

What’s for dinner? Mostly insects. House Wrens feed on a wide variety of insects, including beetles, true bugs, grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, moths, and flies as well as spiders and millipedes.

Where do they take up residence? House Wrens are found throughout summer in the northern U.S., including Illinois and in southern Canada. Their winter range includes the southern U.S. and Mexico. They live in a variety of habitats that feature trees, shrubs, and tangles interspersed with clearings. In winter, they prefer brushy tangles, thickets, and hedgerows.

When and where do they breed and nest? House Wrens breed in the northern U.S. and Canada. They nest in old woodpecker holes, natural crevices, and nest boxes. House Wrens breed between May and September. They are not monogamous and may switch partners within a single breeding season, often switching breeding partners between the first and second brood of a season. A female may have as many as two (2) broods annually. Each brood will have four (4) to eight (8) eggs. The incubation period is two (2) weeks. Young usually leave nest three (3) weeks after hatching.

Where do they migrate? Most House Wrens in North America migrate to the southern U.S. and Mexico for winter. Most of their migratory flight is at night.

What is their conservation status? There is low concern. House Wrens are generally abundant throughout their range. According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, populations have been steady to increasing over the past few decades. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 160 million with 19%, 30 million, spending some part of the year in the U.S. They are not on any watch list. House Wrens are fully protected in the United States and Canada under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Do they make any interesting sounds? House Wrens have a song that really warbles - a long, high-pitched, jumble of notes. House Wrens also make a variety of harsh sounds: churrs, chatters, rattles, and scolds in response to predators. Here is a link to the sounds of the House Wren.

Interesting Facts About the House Wren:

  • The House Wren has one of the largest ranges of any songbird in the New World - from Canada and the U.S. through Mexico, Central America, and into South America .

  • A House Wren weighs about as much as two quarters.

  • House Wrens respond to predators by chasing and striking at the predator while giving a loud, harsh alarm call. 

  • The oldest recorded House Wren was approximately nine (9) years old.

For more information on the House Wren and sources of information used in this blog (these are the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit All About Birds, Audubon Society, University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web, and Bird Watchers Digest.  And the Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides a wonderful source of information for anyone interested in learning more about birds.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, plants and insects. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.

 

Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!