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Description of the Winter Wren


Winter Wren 2 gl

Photograph © Greg Lavaty

The Winter Wren has dark brown upperparts, brownish underparts, a buffy line above the eye, heavy black barring on the flanks and crissum, and a very short, barred tail that is usually held cocked upright.


Winter Wren 3 gl
Photograph © Greg Lavaty

Sexes similar.

Seasonal change in appearance



Juveniles are similar to adults.


Winter Wrens inhabit coniferous forests and brushy undergrowth.


Winter Wrens primarily eat insects; rarely berries.


Winter Wrens forage by hopping on trunks, branches, or on the ground.


Winter Wrens breed from Alaska south to parts of the West Coast and northeastern states, and Appalachians.  They winter throughout much of the eastern U.S. They also occur in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The North American population may be declining in the west and increasing in the east.

Fun Facts

Winter Wrens are small and secretive, usually staying low to the ground, but sometimes singing from higher perches.

Winter Wrens are often mentioned as having one of the best songs of North American birds.

Male Winter Wrens may build a number of "dummy" nests, from which the female chooses the one to be used.


The song is a long, complicated series of tinkling notes and buzzes.


The Winter Wren’s nest is made of weeds, moss and other materials. It is placed in a low tree cavity, within an upturned root ball, or other opening.

Number: Usually lay 5-6 eggs.
Color: White with darker markings.

Incubation and fledging:
The young hatch at about 14-16 days and fledge at about 19 days, though remaining dependent on the adults for another several weeks.