The Carolina Wren is a fairly large wren species that is known for its loud songs. It is an adaptable resident of forestlands, swamps, farms, and human communities that are abundant with trees.
Native to the eastern half of the United States, extreme south of Ontario, Canada, and extreme northeast of Mexico, the Carolina Wren could hardly be seen with its rich cinnamon plumage, white eyebrow stripe, and long, upward-cocked tail. In the recent decades, it has been observed moving to extreme northern regions during winter, although severe winters block them from moving further. However, under favorable weather conditions, they would go slightly further than the limits of their northern range.
The Carolina Wren is a tiny, chunky bird that has a round body and a long tail that always cocks upward. It has a big head with very small neck. Its long, narrow, and downcurved bill marks it as a wren. It grows to a length of about 4.9 to 5.5 inches, weight of about 0.63 to 0.81 ounces, and a wingspan of 11 inches. With this size, it is considered as the second largest wren in the U.S., next to the Cactus Wren.
Both sexes exhibit bright, unpatterned reddish brown upperparts, and warm buffy-orange underparts. They have a long white eyebrow stripe, dark bill, and whitish chin and throat. Juvenile Carolina Wrens also exhibit the same physical characteristics, except that their plumage is paler with a softer texture and their wing coverts are buff-tipped.
Distribution and Habitat
The preferred habitat locations are farm edges, riparian forests, brushy edges, overgrown farmlands, and dense vegetation in wooded areas, particularly in forest ravines and neighborhoods in sub-urban areas. They are often seen creeping through tangled understories, most often backyard brush piles and areas choked with vines and bushes.
They are known as ‘largely resident’ animals, and would only go beyond their range after mild winters. Their range has been seen to be increasing northward and westward in several areas over the past few decades.
The diet of Carolina Wren Birds is a combination of insects and fruit. It consists of invertebrates like beetles, true bugs, grasshoppers, katydids, spiders, ants, bees, and wasps; and even small lizards and tree frogs. Fruit pulp and various seeds only constitute a small portion of their diet. They would often approach bird feeders in the northern parts of their range.
Carolina Wrens would search around vegetated areas, as well as hang up and down tree branches in search of food. As a matter of fact, they spend most of time on or near the ground looking for food, or in tangles of vegetation and vines. With the use of their bills, they poke about and look for hidden food in the surface wile trying to remain close to a brush where they can hide.
They are inconspicuous animals, and would avoid open spaces for long time periods. However, when they are out in these open areas, they would explore different areas, including yards, garages, and woodpiles. They are hardly seen staying in one place.
When foraging, they would cock their tails upward. And when they are singing, they hold their tails down. Males are the only ones that produce songs. Interestingly, they create one of the loudest songs per volume of birds.
They also exhibit a territorial behavior. They use their songs in defending their territories. As a matter of fact, they fiercely scold and chase off animals that intrude into their territories.
These birds are often found in pairs. Once they have found their mate, they would keep a certain territory and stay together for a number of years. They can raise multiple broods during the summer breeding season. However, they are also easy victims of brood parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds.
Moreover, they also build their nests together. Some of these nest locations are branches, tree-holes, stumps, frequent windowsills, mailboxes or other ideal human-made spots.
In average, female Carolina Wrens lay about 4 eggs. The incubation period for these eggs would span for two weeks, while their mates provide them food. After hatching, the parents feed their young for 2 more weeks, until the young fledge the nest. A mating pair may have many broods in one year.
The Carolina Wren is classified under the ‘Least Concern’ category of the IUCN. Its population is widespread across its breeding range. The estimated global breeding population of the species is 14 million, with 89 percent living in the Unites States and 10 percent in Mexico. It has a 7 out of 20 rate on the Continental Concern Score and is not included in the 2012 Watch List.
The species’ population is mainly threatened by brood parasitism. There are also some members of their population that have been affected by mercury contamination.