Bewick's Wren

Thryomanes bewickii
A Bewick's Wren specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (5 ¼ inches) wren, Bewick’s Wren is most easily identified by its plain brown back, pale breast, long tail (often held up at an angle), long curved bill, and conspicuous white eye-stripes. This species may be distinguished from the similar House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) by that species’ small size and fainter eye-ring and from the Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) by that species’ larger size and warmer-toned plumage. Male and female Bewick’s Wrens are similar to one another in all seasons. Bewick’s Wren primarily occurs in western North America from British Columbia south to central Mexico and east to the central Great Plains. Although this species was formerly widespread in the eastern United States as far north and east as the Mid-Atlantic region, its range in those areas is greatly reduced today compared to a century ago, with isolated pockets persisting in the Ohio River valley and the southern Appalachian Mountains. In this species’ core range, most birds are non-migratory, although some birds at the northern or southern extremities of this range migrate short distances south in winter. Bewick’s Wrens inhabit open areas with thick ground cover, such as bushy fields, thickets, and dry scrubland. Eastern populations are heavily dependent on land cleared for agriculture, and much of this species’ decline in those areas is thought to have been caused by the return of woodland habitats to its favored abandoned agricultural fields. Bewick’s Wrens primarily eat small insects, but may also eat small quantities of seeds and berries during the winter when insects are scarce. In appropriate habitat, Bewick’s Wrens may be seen foraging for food on the ground or in the branches of bushes and shrubs. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a series of buzzing notes recalling that of the Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia). Bewick’s Wrens are most active during the day.

DC Information

Uncommon visitor. Found in edge habitats near farms and towns, more often to winter than in summer. Sexes are similar.

Specimen Information

Date:  5/20/1881
Collected By:  R Ridgway
Locality:  Wheatland, Knox Co, IN
Sex:  Male
Catalog ID:  82120

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC11446 Thryomanes bewickii (Bewick's Wren)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC51776 Thryomanes bewickii (Bewick's Wren)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC51777 Thryomanes bewickii (Bewick's Wren)