By Ellen Lambeth

With their big heads and perky tails, wrens look like sassy little birds. And they are!


Wrens may not be very colorful. But they make up for that with their bright songs. Find out for yourself by scanning the QR codes to hear the songs of the birds on these pages. Besides being musical, most wrens also tend to be nosy and bold. If one is around, you’ll probably know about it. It might even challenge you with a harsh scolding sound.

Of the more than 80 wren species in the world, 10 can be found in the United States. Do any show up in your own backyard—or in a nearby park? Just head outside and keep your eyes and ears open for one of these mini insect-eaters!

HOUSE WREN (listen)
This common wren is at home in backyards all across the country, where it belts out its bubbly song.

WINTER WREN (listen)
Our tiniest wren may have the most complicated song of all. But you won’t hear the song unless you’re way up north, which is where the bird breeds.

CACTUS WREN (listen)
This southwestern desert-dweller—the largest U.S. wren—gets all the water it needs from its food. Its “song” sounds like an old car starting up.

CANYON WREN (listen)
You might not see this wren as you hike through its western homeland. But you may hear its loud, descending song bouncing off cliff walls.

MARSH WREN (listen)
If you live near a wetland, you might hear this wren “chattering” both day and night.

This wren lives year-round all over the East—not just in the Carolinas. Listen for its loud tea kettle, tea kettle, tea kettle song.

Wrens like to nest inside things. If a tree hole or nest box isn’t available, a wren pair might choose a hanging plant, an empty flower pot, an old shoe—or even an outdoor sculpture like the one above.

Rangers: We thank the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for the bird songs provided here. Learn more about these wrens—or any North American bird—by visiting the Cornell Lab’s website: allaboutbirds.org.

“Wrens” appears in the April 2018 issue of Ranger Rick magazine.
(Click on the image above for a closer view of the story.)

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