Carolina Wren

Thryothorus ludovicianus
Carolina Wren specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (5 ¾ inches) wren, the Carolina Wren is most easily identified by its plain reddish-brown back, buff 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-stripes and from Bewick’s Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) by that species’ smaller size and paler plumage. Male and female Carolina Wrens are similar to one another in all seasons. The Carolina Wren occurs in much of the eastern United States, southern Canada, and northern Mexico, being absent only from northern New England and the upper Midwest. Isolated populations also occur in southern Mexico and Central America. The Carolina Wren is non-migratory in all parts of its range. Carolina Wrens inhabit a variety of well-vegetated habitats, including bushy fields, woodland undergrowth, and (in the southern part of its range) palmetto scrub. Where food and groundcover is available, this species is also present in suburban areas. Carolina 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, Carolina 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 “chirpity” phrases repeated in rapid succession. Carolina Wrens are most active during the day.

DC Information

Permanent resident, varying in abundance from year to year. Nests from early April to mid-June in brushy areas and moist upland forests. Sexes are similar.

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC17104 Thryothorus ludovicianus (Carolina Wren)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC52357 Thryothorus ludovicianus (Carolina Wren)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC31121 Thryothorus ludovicianus (Carolina Wren)