Beak of the Week – Winter Wren

Winter Wren (Troglodytes hiemalis)

Family: Troglodytidae

By Ryan McGinty, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon

The Winter Wren is a small dark brown bird with extensive barring on its flight feathers and belly. It has a tan supercilium and its underside is a paler brown than its back. The Winter Wren is often compared to a mouse because they putz around the ground going in and out of dense vegetation, logs, brush piles, and other sources of cover. From a high perch, the male’s song can last for 10 seconds consisting of dozens of sequentially higher-pitched, melodious notes coming together quickly in a musical trill or warble. The call of a Winter Wren is a high-pitched, sharp “chip” note which is usually given in pairs.

Winter wrens breed in the coniferous forest of Canada and the northeastern United States. Their nests are typically dome shaped, but they’ll also nest in cavities. Male Winter Wrens build multiple nests in a season for females to choose.

In the winter, these wrens migrate to much of the eastern United States. In Texas, they are most common in the eastern portion of the state. They start to arrive in early October and stick around till mid-March, although some can stick it out as late as April.

Greg Lavaty
Greg Lavaty
 Visit our Bird Gallery to read about other Texas birds! 

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