House Wren

Troglodytes aedon
Family

Troglodytidae (wrens) in the order Passeriformes

Description

Except for its voice, a very plain wren. 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: 4 3/4 inches (tip of bill to tip of tail).

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Photograph of house wren perched at entry to bird house
House Wren and Bird House

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Image of a house wren
House Wren

House Wren

A brown bird perches on a planter to get to its nest in the planter. There is a  baby bird with its mouth open hidden in the plants and nest.
House Wren with offspring
Habitat and conservation

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.

Foods

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

image of House Wren distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

Statewide.

Status

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.

Human connections

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.

Ecosystem connections

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.