House Wren

Media
Photograph of house wren perched on a branch
Scientific Name
Troglodytes aedon
Family
Troglodytidae (wrens) in the order Passeriformes
Description

Except for its voice, the house wren is very plain. Adults are gray-brown above with an indistinct buffy eye line. Wings and tail are slightly more reddish with fine black barring. Tail is short and often cocked upright. Underparts are lighter brown, with some darker markings along the flanks and under the tail. Song: a rising jumble of twittering, gurgling and chattering notes descending toward the end. Calls: a series of stuttering notes, buzzy rattles and a sharp “tchur.”

Size

Length: 4¾ inches (tip of bill to tip of tail).

Where To Find
image of House Wren distribution map

Statewide.

Some studies suggest that the house wren may be replacing the Bewick’s wren in much of its range. On the other hand, house wrens have probably declined somewhat due to competition by the exotic house sparrow.

Caterpillars, spiders and snails are favorite foods of these busy little predators.

Common summer resident, rarely lingering late into the fall. Only a few have been known to overwinter here.

Life Cycle

House wrens nest in abandoned woodpecker holes, bird boxes and other cavities around dwellings. They may even nest in mailboxes, porch planters and rolled-up carpeting in your garage, if you leave the door open too long. Males build the nest with twigs and other miscellaneous materials, and the females line it with various substances including spider webs, hair, moss and trash. The female incubates them for 12–19 days, and it takes about the same time before the hatchlings fledge.

Many Missourians look forward to the springtime return of these exuberant and energetic singers, and many put up special wren houses to welcome them. Building instructions are available from the Missouri Department of Conservation.

House wrens feed voraciously on worms and other invertebrates, especially when feeding their nestlings. They sometimes compete with bluebirds for nest boxes and sometimes even kill bluebirds; house wrens are, however, a protected species and cannot be killed.

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About Birds in Missouri
About 350 species of birds are likely to be seen in Missouri, though nearly 400 have been recorded within our borders. Most people know a bird when they see one — it has feathers, wings, and a bill. Birds are warm-blooded, and most species can fly. Many migrate hundreds or thousands of miles. Birds lay hard-shelled eggs (often in a nest), and the parents care for the young. Many communicate with songs and calls.