Wren, a family of small, plump, extremely active birds. Wrens are brown and gray, with wings and tails barred with black. They have short, rounded wings, and commonly cock their tails upright. Most are from four to six inches (10–15 cm) long. They live almost exclusively on insects and spiders. Of the 350 known species and subspecies, 320 are native to the New World, chiefly to the tropics. About 50 species and subspecies are known in North America, where some nest as far north as Alaska.Wrens are small, plump, extremely active birds.
Wrens typically nest in cavities and crevices. The marsh wren, however, builds a globular nest about the size of a softball, suspended from reeds, rushes, or grasses. The cactus wren of the southwestern deserts makes a horizontal, flask-shaped nest on a cactus.
The house wren is the most common North American species. It usually nests about houses, under eaves, in holes in trees, or in nest boxes. It is a fierce competitor for nest sites and will throw out the nest, young, and eggs of other birds in its territory. House wrens are busy builders, often dismantling and rebuilding the same nest several times. The adult house wren is about five inches (13 cm) long. The female lays five to eight white, brown-speckled eggs.
The winter wren, a melodious songster, nests in damp woodlands. The cactus wren, the largest North American wren, grows up to eight inches (20 cm) long. The short-billed marsh wren grows about four inches (10 cm) long, the long-billed to about five inches (13 cm). The males of both species build a number of dummy nests near the actual nests.
The Carolina wren, a versatile songster, blends the songs of other birds with its own. It grows about six inches (15 cm) long. Bewick's wren, which is slightly smaller than the Carolina wren, is a melodious singer.
Wrens are songbirds that can be found in many places all over the world. In North America, the most common wren is the house wren. Its song is a long, pleasant gurgling or bubbling. The house wren is only about 5 inches (13 centimeters) long. But its song is one of the loudest of all songbirds.
House wrens are so named because they tend to nest near people’s houses. They will settle in any place with a hole. House wrens have been found living in flowerpots, shoes, cars, mailboxes, holes in fences—even in the pockets of pants that hang on a clothesline.
House wrens are not the only kind of wren. Other wrens have different songs. The Carolina wren sings a cheerful “Tea kettle, tea kettle, tea kettle” all day long. The marsh wren stutters “Tip-tip-tip-trrr, tip-tip-tip-trrr.”
Wrens belong to the family Troglodytidae, the cave-dwellers. The house wren is Troglodytes aedon; winter wren, T. troglodytes; cactus wren, Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus; short-billed marsh wren, Cistothorus platensis; long-billed marsh wren, Cistothorus palustris; Carolina wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus; Bewick's wren, Thryomanes bewickii.