Family: Troglodytidae (wrens) in the order Passeriformes
The Carolina Wren is one of the brighter colored of the wren family; reddish brown, with a prominent white brow, and buff or white breast and underbelly. They are typically 4-5 inches long and weigh just under an ounce.
You’ll see them tails up when hunting, and tail down when perched and singing.
These small songbirds live year around in the southern half of Missouri (reaching out farther north in the warmer months) and pairs mate for life. They share the responsibility of nest building and rearing young.
The Carolina Wren can be found living in brush and wooded areas and may frequent garages, outbuilding, porches, and patios in search of a place to nest or feed. You can hear their song in almost any wooded area as they sing their duet, communicating and marking their territory.
Nests are usually bulky and made from twigs, grass, moss, and some type of soft lining. Both male and female build the nest but the female is left to finish up with the lining. Nests are dome shaped and the entrance is from the side. They can be found up to ten feet from the ground in tree hollows, old woodpecker holes, overhangs, or sometimes, simply suspended in a brush pile. In contrast, this species will also build nests in fallen logs, overturned tree roots, and rock ledges or nestled in hillsides.
Carolina Wrens typically lay 5-6 eggs that hatch in 12-16 days. Hatchlings leave the nest at 12-14 days old. The Carolina Wren will lay twice per year in most climates but up to three times per year farther south.
Both the male and female feed their young until they leave the nest. Sometimes, the male will feed the female while she incubates the eggs.
Carolina Wrens feed mostly on insects like caterpillars, crickets, spiders, and a variety of other bugs in warmer months and are not frequent at bird feeders during this time. In the winter they feed on berries, nuts, small fruits, and some seeds. It is during the coldest months you’ll find the Carolina Wren waiting in line (or running other birds off) at the feeder.
To attract these small birds to your yard or garden simply building a brush pile will work. Anyone interested in building a very simple nesting box for the Carolina Wren can click here to download plans for one at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.