Sharing the Wrens

Bewick’s Wren on grape vine, California

A perky bird with a tiny body and big sound, wrens can be found around the world. The dominant wren family, Troglodytidae, is primarily found in the New World, as well as Europe and Asia. There are 88 species in this family.


One came visiting in the garden the other day to remind me wrens are present in cities, towns, and gardens as well as forests, canyons, deserts, marshes, and other rural areas. There are grape vines in the urban garden where I am currently residing, and this wren, above, comes to visit every day.


Wren overview, Wikipedia


Preying on insects and spiders, they dart and dash in search of a meal in a variety of habitats. The array of habitats is impressive, and often a wren is named after the habitat it prefers. There are marsh wrens, rock wrens, canyon wrens, cactus wrens, and more.


Intricately marked and often sporting a cocked tail, the Troglodytidae wren is small, averaging 5.5 inches (14 cm).


Horicon Marsh, Wisconsin. Typical setting for marsh wrens


Marsh Wren, Horicon Marsh, Wisconsin

Lately, as we enter into autumn in the northern hemisphere, I hear their scolding calls. In springtime we are greeted by wrens with a more melodious breeding song.


North America has approximately 11 different wren species.Β The three wren species I see most in California: the ubiquitous house wren, seen in towns, suburbs, and rural areas; the marsh wren, in marsh areas; and the Bewick’s wren, seen throughout the western U.S.

House Wren, Wisconsin meadow

While it is always fun to chase after my familiar hometown wren friends, spotting other wren species in travel is equally as enjoyable.

Canyon Wren in a Nevada canyon

The canyon wren’s song is always a thrill, with their distinctive descending notes echoing throughout rock canyons. Allow me to share their song with you: click here and hit the red arrow.

Carolina Wren, Texas; parent going to the nest

When I spot a Carolina wren, I am never in the Carolinas. When I spot a house wren, I am never in a house. But when I spot a marsh wren, I am always at a marsh.


Wherever I am, they are a joy.


Written by Jet Eliot

Photos by Athena Alexander


House wren going to the nest (under rusty globe)


Rock Wren drawing by John James Audubon


95 thoughts on “Sharing the Wrens

    • Hi Joanne, no, I’m sorry to say the house wrens have one up on me, still not back home. But we spent the summer working on it, and sometime this month we are expecting to move back. Thanks for asking, my friend, I hope you had a wonderful summer.

      • Our summer was great, a little of everything – relaxing, working on the house, walking and hiking – nice. Am so pleased to read that you are hoping to be moving back into your house this month. How wonderful it will be for the two of you to be back in your own home once again. Best of luck with everything!πŸ’—

      • I am happy you had a great summer Joanne. And yes, we sure are looking forward to settling back into our home. It has been a long and bumpy 11-month road of guest cottages, rental apartments, and Airbnbs. But we have met lovely people along the way. Cheers and warm thanks, Joanne–

  1. What a treat to read this blog today and to see the wonderful photographs. It makes me feel happy that this little wren comes to visit you every day…..That’s what’s so amazing and wonderful about birds. Here we humans are trying to deal with all the stuff that life throws at us and yet the birds are constant….seemingly free of all the madness. The simplicity of their lives helps us to see a simpler way.
    Thinking of you all the time, and hoping things are moving forward. Have a lovely weekend. janet πŸ™‚

    • Dear Janet, what a delight to receive your wonderful note today. You’re so right, it’s one of the amazing things about birds, they greet us with a kindly visit and remind us of the glitter of life. Thanks so much for your kind words and thoughts. We now have electricity and water at the house, and can move back home later this month, deal with the rest of the damage from home. We’ve kept our bird feeders filled and water trays cleaned and filled all these 11 months while displaced, and the birds are still there. Some, in fact, have become quite accustomed to no humans being around, chickadees that don’t want to get off the feeder even when I’m filling it! And the hummingbirds abound, I am happy to tell you. Sending joy and thanks to you~~

      • Congratulations on the water and electricity…these are the foundation blocks for getting your home back together again. Isn’t it wonderful that the birds, including hummingbirds are flocking to your property…they are waiting for you. I send you lots of hummingbird hugs Janet πŸ™‚

      • Yes, the repairs and restoration of these two utilities have increased the ability to restore our home exponentially. My warmest thanks, Janet, for your caring and encouragement. It has been much enjoyed over this past year. πŸ™‚

  2. Oh they are such gorgeous little creatures. I have spotted a few here in my garden and in our local woods and heard what you rightly describe as their scolding call. That canyon wren call is really beautiful, not scolding at all – lovely πŸ™‚

    • Your astute ability to tune into the sounds of the outdoors is always a joy, Alastair. You can well imagine how that canyon wren stops this hiker in her tracks. Many thanks my friend–

  3. House Wrens around us have been eating the Monarch caterpillars as quick as they hatch. The caterpillars have a day or two to live and are gone. No pupa, no butterfly. That is nature, I guess. 😦

    • Oh dear, that’s unfortunate. I wonder if this is a first for your area? I have seen monarchs at Cape May there, clustered by the hundreds on some of the plants. I hope the house wrens get too full soon. Many thanks, Hien.

  4. I’m so happy to read that you’ll soon be back in your house. Perhaps you’re singing your own little song of happiness.

    I enjoyed seeing that rusty cap. In the marinas where I work, the pilings that support the floating docks generally have pointed caps on them, to discourage birds from perching. But they perform the same function as the rusty cap for other birds, who zip underneath, build nests, and raise families. Usually, it’s the starlings and sparrows who move in, or an occasional dove if the gap between the piling and the cap is large enough. It’s fun to watch all the to-and-fro-ing that goes on.

    A blogging friend in Australia has the aptly named superb fairy wrens coming to her balcony garden these days. They’re quite a remarkable bird, although ours aren’t at all inferior. I do love listening to them, and I’m always surprised by their willingness to share space with humans.

    • I enjoyed your comment today, Linda, thanks so much. I liked hearing about the pointed caps on the floating docks and the opportunistic birds who nest there. And my goodness, you couldn’t have brought up a more delightful bird than the superb fairywrens. They are not in the Troglodytidae family, but the fairywrens are one of my favorite birds in Australia. I saw a few once while in Australia, and hope to see more sometime because they are so adorable, and their colors are so brilliant. Thanks for bringing up the fairywrens, a joy to remember. Cheers, and thanks.

  5. So good to hear from you again, Jet! And this was such a lovely, sweet post. Thoroughly enjoyed your words, Athena’s beautiful photos, and the sweet birdsong recording. Welcome back!!

  6. Welcome back Jet, I wonder where you can go, since you’ve been almost everywhere! I miss you I must admit. I enjoyed your post because I am very fond of wrens, they amuse me with their constant Fred Astaire dances and amaze me with their Pavarotti voice. Very fine little birds. Thank you my friend! πŸ™‚

    • Dear HJ, what a delight to read your comment, and you brought a big smile to my face, thank you. I love the Fred Astaire and Pavarotti references and imagery, two artists who I have very fond (mental) alliance with. And now to see it in the wrens is especially sweet. Unfortunately, my hiatus did not take me more than an hour from home, as I am committed to getting our house back to living condition. There are crews and calls and many mistakes, sometimes disastrous ones, that are happening all the time. Being there helps keep things on track. But fortunately, the worst, I believe, is over, and soon we will be back on track. I am delighted to be back to WP and conversing with you. My humble thanks.

  7. Wren ever I read a Jet Eliot post, it raises a smile. Very happy you’re back to the blog, and we hope you and Athena will be settling back in among your mountain birds soon.
    Lovely post, had to laugh at the marsh wren being in the right place even if the other wrens aren’t! Great photos from Athena, and enjoyed the tumbling call of the canyon wren.
    Thanks, Jet, and have a wonderful weekend!

    • Oh you have great plays on words, my friend, always a joy, pc. You wrender me with joy. Glad you enjoyed that whimsical sentence, and I appreciate your feedback on it. We writers (and I include you as one) enjoy hearing that the word play was received. Glad you had an extra moment to hear the extra special canyon wren. Always a great treat, dear PC, thanks so much.

  8. Nice post, Jet! Thanks for the link for the Canyon Wren’s song – my new kitty woke up and tried to find where it was inside the computer – hehe! The do have melodious calls, which must be amazing echoing in canyons.
    We had a house wren nest in our box this spring (you might have seen the post) and we hear the shy Carolina wren from time to time. We’re at the northern edge of their range. I read somewhere that they progress no more than 15 miles per generation, which means that it has taken ages for them to get this far.

    • How wonderful to hear about your nesting house wren, and the Carolina wren and generational progress, Eliza, thanks so much. And I love the story about your new kitty hearing the canyon wren singing from your computer! Thanks so much for this lovely wren sharing.

  9. I love wrens, they are always so perky and cute. Thank you for sharing the wren info and wonderful photos, I had no idea there were 88 species, wow! Guess I’m no where near having a photograph of every one of them. Glad to see you posting again, hope all is well with you and yours.

    • I didn’t know there were 88 wren species either, Donna, it is quite astonishing, isn’t it? So glad you enjoyed the wren post, and your kind words are appreciated. All is well, yes, thank you. And as always, thanks for your visit and comment.

  10. Lovely post! I enjoyed your comments about where you are – or are not – when you encounter particular Wrens. The one I know (and LOVE) best is the Carolina Wren, whom I’ve heard singing its beautiful song from NYC to southeast Florida.

    • Yes, I am sure I have seen far fewer Carolina wrens than you have, BJ, as this species doesn’t even come out west to us. So wonderful to have you stop by for both posts, thank you.

  11. Wonderful to see your return and the beautiful photos of the wrens!πŸ™‚ I was hoping to read that you were back home and I was happy to read in your comments it will be soon and I smiled when I read that you made sure the birds were cared for this last year.πŸ™‚ Welcome back and thanks for sharing the wrens, you’ve been missed!!πŸ™‚

    • Oh what a pleasure to have an exchange with you, ACI, thank you for your visit and kind words. Glad you saw that we’ll be moving back home soon, and the birds have enjoyed sweet sustenance in our absence. I’m glad you enjoyed the wrens, too; a merry species. As a football fan you’ll be glad to know also that this past month we got a landline so we could get Direct TV, then got the roof replaced to put a satellite on, then got to watch the first NFL Sunday Night football game of the season; the great rivalry with that dramatic ending with who else but the astounding Aaron Rodgers. Smiles and thanks to you–

  12. I loved the beautiful wrens, but most of all I loved the news that you’ll be returning home soon! My heart sings for you. I can only imagine what it’s been like this past year. It’s also good to hear that your birds will be there to welcome you! ❀

  13. Thanks so very much, Gunta, for your warm thoughts and kindness. It has been a hellacious year recovering from the fire, but we are coming out on the other side and the worst is over. Your support and encouragement is much appreciated. Your serene coastal scenes have been a great gift.

  14. Pingback: Sharing the Wrens β€” Jet Eliot |

  15. Wonderful to see you back Jet! So glad to hear that you are getting closer to being back in your home. The wee wrens are such a joy to see. I believe I recall the glove on the post from another post? I think that is a marvellous home. Very well protected. Lovely photos and our best to Athena and yourself.

    • You have a good memory, Sue. Yes, I did a post “Nesting House Wrens” last summer and included that rusty globe photo and the nesting house wren. What a joy to be in this world with wrens, I so agree with you. Thanks for your wonderful comment and visit, Sue, always a true pleasure.

    • Absolutely loved hearing about the wrens in Abaco and UK, RH, thanks so much. Yes, I agree, we are spoiled with our abundance of wren species in North America. A big thanks, my friend.

    • Now that’s an interesting main character! For the most part, rock wrens are only nocturnal when migrating — this is for safety purposes. But as a fellow fiction writer, I know these things can change according to the character. So I think you did well, Brenda. Fun comment. πŸ™‚

    • Well I can honestly say, Wayne, that this past year of displacement has been an adventure. Not one I ever want to repeat–harrowing at times, and upsetting always, but it built me up as a stronger adventurer, of this I am certain. Always great to hear from you, and always a pleasure to embrace your incredible wildlife photos.

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