For the Birds: Carolina wren climbs in the pecking order

Photo by Chris Bosak A Carolina wren visits to a New England backyard, January 2021.

I find myself saying “that’s one of my favorite birds“ a lot. I know that list should be relatively short so as to not water down the significance of the birds on it, but it’s a list that grows and never gets pared down.

I have always been fond of the Carolina wren, but in recent years I have become more enamored with that little brown bird. Not surprisingly, it’s on that list.

Carolina wrens are a bit more brightly colored and a bit more loquacious than the other wrens we see in New England. That is saying a lot as the house wren is quite the loud talker as well.

Carolina wrens are relative newcomers to New England as they continue to expand their range northward. From what I can gather, many people in middle to northern New England are still quite surprised to see their first Carolina wrens at the feeder. Wrens will eat seeds or suet at feeders.

I recently received a question that I had never gotten before about the Carolina wren. Then, a day or two later, I got that same question. So it seems Carolina wrens are on other people’s minds as well.

The question was, Isn’t it kind of late for Carolina wrens to still be around; shouldn’t they have migrated by now? It’s a logical and great question.

The answer is that it is not too late for Carolina wrens to still be around. In fact, they aren’t migratory at all. Some of them may head a little south during winter, but they do not stray far from their breeding areas.

House wrens and winter wrens, as well as New England‘s other wrens, do migrate, but not the Carolina wren. Harsh winters do take their toll on Carolina wrens, but their population is strong enough in New England now that they are not decimated and several remain to breed next spring.

I always enjoy a visit from a Carolina wren during a snowstorm. I love my chickadees, titmice and nuthatches, of course, but it’s also fun when a different bird shows up and stays for a while. I don’t know why, but I’m always somewhat surprised at first when I see a Carolina wren at my feeder during a snowfall. The surprise quickly turns to excitement, and I reach for the camera.

Carolina wrens are birds for all seasons in New England. They provide a break from the norm during winter and are the loudest birds in the neighborhood during spring, summer and fall. Non-birders are always surprised when they hear a Carolina wren and I point out that the sound is coming from a tiny, somewhat nondescript bird. I think they expected to see a bird of prey with the decibels achieved by the wren.

It’s no wonder they are one of my latest favorite birds.

1 thought on “For the Birds: Carolina wren climbs in the pecking order

  1. We love our Carolina Wrens in Stow, MA. We have had them for several years and they are so much fun to watch! And they are feisty too!



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