Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)


Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family:    Troglodytidae
Size:    Length: 3.1 to 3.9 inches (8 to 10 cm) 
Weight: Up to 0.5 ounce (14 g)
Diet: Mostly insects, but sometimes seeds and berries
Distribution: North America, Europe, North Africa and Asia
Young:  4 to 6 chicks, up to 2 times per year
Animal Predators:  Domestic cats, bobcats, owls, raccoons and foxes
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Chick
Lifespan: Average lifespan is 6 years



·       The winter wren is the smallest North American wren.

·       The scientific name, troglodytes, means “cave dweller.”

·       The winter wren is featured on a 1981 Iceland stamp.

·       There are 59 species of wrens that all originated in the Western Hemisphere.



Winter wrens are small, reddish-brown birds with lighter coloured undersides. They have a relatively large head, a slender bill and dark barring on their belly. Males and females are similar in appearance. Their short, rounded tail is usually held upright. 



Winter wrens live in areas where there are abundant, dense forests. They can be found throughout much of Canada and migrate south during the winter. In the U.S., they are found from southern Alaska all the way down the western seaboard to southern California. They are the only wrens to be found in Europe, including Great Britain, and they winter as far south as northern Africa. They are also present in parts of Asia, including Japan. Winter wrens are year-round residents of Iceland. Unlike house wrens, winter wrens are not frequent backyard visitors. They prefer to stay in heavily forested areas.


Feeding Habits

They eat mostly insects, but in some areas have been known to eat cedar seeds and small berries as well. 



Unlike many other species of birds, the male winter wren is the nest builder rather than the female. A male usually builds several nests within his territory, but most of them are “dummies” to keep other birds from using the same area. He uses abandoned woodpecker holes, natural holes, rocky crevices or the underside of stumps, and lines them with twigs, fur, hair, feathers, moss and/or grass. The nest is typically close to a stream or another source of fresh water. When the nest is ready, the female lays several brown-flecked white eggs. She incubates them for up to 16 days, while the male brings her food and guards the nest from intruders. When the chicks hatch, both the female and the male bring food back to the nest. The young fledge at just over two weeks of age.



Winter wrens are busy, noisy birds. They are more often heard than seen, as they chatter and sing their cheery songs. Winter wrens never stop moving—they even wag their tails as they sit. They are susceptible to long periods of cold and may gather in groups of up to 60 in one nest to keep warm during cold spells.



Winter wrens are common throughout their range and are not a conservation concern. 



Winter Wren Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US

Harrison, C. and Greensmith, A. (1993). Birds of the World. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America (1999)