The 7 Types Of Wrens In Ohio And Where To Find Them

The 7 Types Of Wrens In Ohio And Where To Find Them

Situated in the Midwestern region of the United States, Ohio is known for hosting the “Biggest Week in American Birding”, where the self-proclaimed “Warbler Capital of the World” plays host to many migratory warblers in locations like the famous Magee Marsh Wildlife Area.

While the warblers may be a big drawcard for birders, close to 450 species, have been seen in the state in addition to the warblers. This has to do with the good variety of habitats in the state, from mountainous peaks to forests, meadows, grasslands and lakes.

The Ohio bird list includes seven species of wrens belonging to the Troglodyidae family – more than half the total number of 11 North American wrens. Wrens are a group of non-descript songbirds that move around inconspicuously through the undergrowth in search of morsels to eat. One of their distinct morphological features is their tail which is usually cocked upwards over their short bodies.

The state contains many good protected areas and birding locations. Some of the best birding locations in the state are Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve, Headlands Beach State Park, Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, Buck Creek State Park, Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, Green Lawn Cemetery and Arboretum, Edge of Appalachian Nature Preserve, Fernald Preserve, and Lake Erie Birding Trail.

The following text includes the seven types of wrens in Ohio, including the five likely species and two accidental species of Ohio wrens and where they occur in the state.

These Are The 7 Wrens That You Can See In Ohio

1. Carolina Wren

  • Scientific nameThryothorus ludovicianus
  • Lifespan – 6 years (average), 7 years (maximum recorded)
  • Size – 4.7 to 5.5 in (12 to 14 cm)
  • Weight – 0.6 to 0.8 oz (18 to 22 g)
  • Wingspan – 11 to 11.4 in (28 to 29 cm)
  • Status – Least concern

The Carolina Wren is a small, chunky species with a long tail, a reddish-brown upper side, a buffy underside, a white throat, a white eyebrow, a dark bill and dark barring on the wings and tail. This species makes a wide range of calls and songs, but the most typical are teakettle-teakettle or germany-germany notes.

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)
by Chrissy McClarren and Andy Reago

Nesting

The Carolina Wren nests in cavities located in trees, stumps and overhangs. Occasionally, this species may nest amongst thick vegetation on the ground. These wrens may use human-made objects such as mailboxes and flowerpots in urban and suburban areas. The nest is usually domed and cup-shaped, with a side entrance.

The nest is made from plant materials like bark pieces, feathers, dried grasses, dried leaves, pine needles, paper and straw. The female lays three to seven eggs in a clutch. The eggs are a whitish or cream colour with rusty-brown spots and are incubated for 12 to 16 days. Once hatched, the chicks develop for 10 to 16 days before leaving the nest.

Food

Carolina Wrens mainly feed on spiders and insects, including crickets, caterpillars, cockroaches, grasshoppers, beetles and moths. Sometimes, they eat snakes, frogs, lizards, and plant material such as fruit pulp and seeds.

Conservation

The Carolina Wren is a common species throughout its distribution. The population has increased in size over recent decades and is estimated to comprise 19 million breeding individuals. With warmer winters, this species has shown a northward range expansion.

They may also benefit from reforestation and forest fragmentation which creates ideal habitats for them. Backyard feeders also help these birds in winter, especially in the northern part of their range when food availability decreases.

Where To Find Them

Carolina Wrens occur in thick, well-vegetated habitats such as lowland cypress swamps, bottomland woodlands, brushy thickets, ravines, overgrown farmland, well-wooded urban and suburban areas, well-vegetated yards and old buildings. This species occurs across the state throughout the year and is common.

Some of the top locations are the following: Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area, and Headlands Beach State Park.

2. Winter Wren

  • Scientific nameTroglodytes hiemalis
  • Lifespan – 2 years (average), 6 years (maximum recorded)
  • Size – 3.1 to 4.7 in (8 to 12 cm)
  • Weight – 0.3 to 0.4 oz (8 to 12 g)
  • Wingspan – 4.7 to 6.3 in (12 to 16 cm)
  • Status – Least concern

The Winter Wren is a small, plump species with a relatively short tail. The plumage is almost entirely brown, with barring on the tail, wings and belly. The underside is paler than the upper side, and the bill is dark and thin. The crown, eyebrow stripe, throat and belly are a tan colour. The main sound produced by this species is a bubbly five to ten-second-long song.

Winter Wren (Troglodytes hiemalis)
by Andy Wilson

Nesting

Winter Wrens build spherical dome-shaped nests or use cavities. The nest is usually built under creek banks, in the roots of upturned trees, in decaying logs, dead trees or hanging moss – all near streams. The nest is made from plant material, including bark, moss, twigs, grass and rootlets. Feathers and animal hair is used to line the nest.

The female lays one to nine eggs per clutch. The eggs are white with reddish-brown spots concentrated at one end. The incubation period is 14 to 17 days, and the nestlings develop for 15 to 17 days after hatching before they leave the nest.

Food

The Winter Wren feeds on insects, including ants, beetles, flies, caterpillars and mites, as well as spiders, millipedes and berries.

Conservation

Winter Wrens are a common species throughout their range. The population is stable and is estimated to comprise 11 million breeding individuals.

This species favours old-growth and mature forests, so it is threatened by logging practices and forest fragmentation that decrease habitat and nesting site availability.

Where To Find Them

The Winter Wren inhabits deciduous forests and evergreen forests containing fir, spruce and hemlock. They also occur in backyards, brushy fields, dense vegetation and deciduous forests. This species is primarily migratory.

In Ohio, these wrens can be found all year round, but they are most common and abundant in winter. They are found in many areas in the state, including Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area, Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve, and Headlands Beach State Park.

3. Marsh Wren

  • Scientific nameCistothorus palustris
  • Lifespan – Unknown
  • Size – 3.9 to 5.5 in (10 to 14 cm)
  • Weight – 0.3 to 0.5 oz (9 to 14 g)
  • Wingspan – 5.5 to 7 in (14 to 17.8 cm)
  • Status – Least concern

The Marsh Wren is a tiny, plump wren with a short tail and thin bill. The plumage is rusty-brown on the upper parts with black-and-white streaking on the back. The tail and wings are darkly barred. The breast and throat are whitish. The eyebrow is pale, and the shoulders are unstreaked. The usual call produced by this wren is a series of buzzing trills and gurgling.

Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris)
by Kyle Nessen

Nesting

Marsh Wrens build their nests amongst cattails and bulrushes. The nest is a dome shape made with strands of grass, sedge and cattail. The nest contains a hole at the top and a cup at the bottom. It is lined with feathers, sedges, grass, cattail down or rootlets.

The female lays three to ten eggs in a clutch. The eggs are dark-spotted and brown in colour. The eggs are incubated for 12 to 16 days. The nestling period is 13 to 15 days.

Food

The Marsh Wren feeds on insects such as damselflies and mosquitoes, as well as spiders.

Conservation

Marsh Wrens are common within their range of distribution. The global population has increased by 130% since 1966 and is estimated to consist of 9.4 million breeding individuals. This species is threatened by the destruction of wetlands and salt marshes through draining and filling.

Where To Find Them

The Marsh Wren is found in saltmarshes containing cordgrass and wetlands containing sedges, cattails, bulrushes and Phragmites. They are also found in thickets near wetlands, agricultural canals and tidal saltmarshes during winter. This species is primarily migratory, but it is resident in some areas.

This species is mainly seen in summer, but they also occur in the state during migration from further north and south. Some do remain all year round. They can be seen at sites such as Fernald Preserve, Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve, and Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area.

4. House Wren

  • Scientific nameTroglodytes aedon
  • Lifespan – 9 years (maximum recorded)
  • Size – 4.3 to 5.1 in (11 to 13 cm)
  • Weight – 0.3 to 0.4 oz (10 to 12 g)
  • Wingspan – 5.9 to 6.5 in (15 to 16.5 cm)
  • Status – Least concern

The House Wren is a small bird with a long, curved beak and a short tail. The upperside is brown with barring on the wings and tail. The throat is whitish, and the underside is finely barred and pale. The eyebrow stripe is indistinct. This species produces a variety of sounds, including a jumbly, bubbly song filled with churrs and scolds.

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)
by David Bird 

Nesting

House Wrens utilise natural crevices, old woodpecker holes, and nest boxes as nesting sites. The nest is made from sticks and twigs piled inside the cavity to form a cup. The inner lining is made from grasses, snakeskin, feathers, animal hair, string, spider egg sacs or plastic.

The female lays three to ten eggs per clutch. The eggs are whitish to greyish with reddish-brown blotches or speckling. The eggs are incubated for 9 to 16 days. The nestlings develop for 15 to 17 days before they leave the nest.

Food

The House Wren’s diet comprises insects and spiders. The prey includes flies, springtails, beetles, earwigs, caterpillars, leafhoppers, and daddy longlegs. Snail shells are also eaten occasionally.

Conservation

House Wrens are common within their massive range, but regional populations have shown different trends over the years. In some regions, the populations have declined, but most remain stable or increased slightly over the past five decades.

The population is estimated at 190 million breeding birds. Collisions threaten this species, and they are vulnerable to habitat destruction and pesticide use.

Where To Find Them

The House Wren occurs in many habitats, including deciduous forests, southern swamps, western conifer forests, aspen groves, and urban and suburban environments containing backyards, buildings, farms and developed areas.

This species is migratory throughout most of the United States and occurs in Ohio during summer, when it is the most common wren. Some good spots for finding this bird are Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, and Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area.

5. Sedge Wren

  • Scientific nameCistothorus stellaris
  • Lifespan – 5 years (average)
  • Size – 3.9 to 4.7 in (10 to 12 cm)
  • Weight – 0.3 to 0.4 oz (7 to 10 g)
  • Wingspan – 4.7 to 5.5 in (12 to 14 cm)
  • Status – Least concern

The Sedge Wren is a tiny, roundish wren with a short tail and a short curved bill. The upper parts are brown and heavily streaked. The wings and tail have banding. The underparts are whitish with a peachy belly and flanks. The crown is streaked, and the eyebrow is light brown. This wren produces a song consisting of high-pitched notes and a trill.

Sedge Wren (Cistothorus stellaris)
by Chrissy McClarren and Andy Reago

Nesting

The Sedge Wren nests in spherical nests with a side entrance hole placed on the ground or in dense vegetation (primarily sedges). The nest is designed and built using strips of sedges and grasses. The nest is then lined with fur, feathers and grasses. The female lays three to eight eggs in a clutch. The white eggs are incubated for 13 to 16 days. The hatchlings develop for 12 to 14 days before they leave the nest to fledge.

Food

Sedge Wrens feed on insects and spiders, including weevils, ants, locusts, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, and caterpillars. Seeds also form a small part of their diet.

Conservation

The Sedge Wren is a scarce species throughout its range. The population has decreased drastically since 1993, with an estimated 54% decrease over that time – indicating a reduction of approximately 3.35% per year. The total breeding population is estimated to consist of 5.4 million individuals.

They are threatened by habitat destruction – particularly wet meadows and marshes. Nestlings are often lost during harvesting for those nesting in hayfields. Unfortunately, many Sedge Wrens are killed by building strikes while on migration too.

Where To Find Them

Sedge Wrens occur in dense, tall sedges and grasses located in hayfields, pond margins, meadows, old croplands, marshes, prairies with tall grass, and sphagnum bogs – all with woody shrubs. This species is migratory.

In Ohio, this wren is usually seen during summer but is most commonly seen in spring and autumn while migrating through the state. They can be seen at the following locations: Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area, and Fernald Preserve.

6. Rock Wren

  • Scientific nameSalpinctes obsoletus
  • Lifespan – Unknown
  • Size – 4.9 to 5.9 in (12.5 to 15 cm)
  • Weight – 0.5 to 0.6 oz (15 to 18 g)
  • Wingspan – 8.7 to 9.4 in (22 to 24 cm)
  • Status – Least concern

The Rock Wren is a medium-sized wren with a long thin bill and a long tail. The upper parts are a light brown, and the underparts are whitish and lightly streaked with a buffy wash on the belly. The back, tail and wings are speckled. The face has a pale eyebrow stripe. Rock Wrens sing a series of phrases with significant amounts of variation that sound like keree-keree-keree, chair-chair-chair-chair, deedle-deedle-deedle-deedle, tur-tur-tur-tur, keree-keree-keree, trrrrrrr.

Rock Wren (Salpinctes obsoletus)
by Dario Taraborelli 

Nesting

The Rock Wren places its nest in a cavity between rocks or within a rock on a stone floor. The nest that is built is cup-shaped, and it is made from bark, grass, moss and hair. The nest is lined with spider silk, hair, wool or rootlets. The foundation for the nest is usually small stones but can be made from sticks. The female lays four to eight eggs in a clutch. The eggs are white with reddish-brown spots. Incubation lasts 14 to 16 days, and the nestling period lasts 14 to 16 days.

Food

Rock Wrens mainly prey upon insects such as leafhoppers, grasshoppers, ants, beetles and crickets. Their diet is also made up of plant material, seeds and spiders.

Conservation

The Rock Wren is relatively common in most of its range, but their numbers have decreased by approximately 0.65% per year over the past five decades. The breeding population is estimated to comprise 4.1 million individuals. This species is threatened by brood parasitism from the Brown-headed Cowbird and being trapped in PVC posts at mine claims. They adapt sufficiently to habitat disturbances.

Where To Find Them

Rock Wrens are found in dry, rocky areas with sparse vegetation from low-lying deserts to mountain tops. Particular habitats are shrubsteppe containing rocky outcrops, cliffs, sagebrush, talus slopes and canyon walls, as well as steep valleys and ravines. Other habitats include alpine meadows, desert mesas and arroyos.

Migrating birds may be found in grassland and agricultural lands – mainly in quarries, rockpiles, debris and abandoned surface mines. This migratory species is considered an accidental species in the state. It has been seen at Edgewater Park, Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, near Mount Hope and most recently close to Cambridge.

7. Bewick’s Wren

  • Scientific nameThryomanes bewickii
  • Lifespan – 8 years (maximum recorded)
  • Size (average) – 5 in (13 cm)
  • Weight – 0.3 to 0.4 oz (8 to 12 g)
  • Wingspan (average) – 7 in (18 cm)
  • Status – Least concern

Bewick’s Wren is a medium-sized slender wren with a long tail and a pointy downcurved beak. The upperside is brown, the tail is heavily barred, and the white eyebrow is prominent. The underside is pale grey, and the throat is whitish. The songs this species produces geographically vary, and each bird has variable tunes. It is usually a series of notes, warbles, buzzes and phrases that ends in a trill.

Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)
by Claude Lyneis

Nesting

Bewick’s Wrens often build nests in cavities, on ledges, in nest boxes, brush piles, and abandoned buildings. The nest is a cup shape made from grasses, rootlets, sticks, moss, leaves and other plant matter. The lining is made of wool, feathers, hair, soft plant material, and snakeskin. The female lays between three and eight eggs in a clutch. The eggs are white with purplish or reddish-brown spotting. The eggs are incubated for 14 to 16 days, and the nestlings stay in the nest for 14 to 16 days before they leave.

Food

The Bewick’s Wren feeds on larvae, pupae, eggs and adults of small invertebrates such as insects. They frequently prey upon wasps, bees, moths, butterflies, grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, spiders and flies. They may also feed on plant material in the form of fruit and seeds.

Conservation

Bewick’s Wren is relatively common within its range, and the population is stable. The global population is estimated to total 7.9 million breeding birds. In the early 1900s, the population started declining, and this species disappeared from the Midwest and the eastern mountains. Today, this species does not occur east of the Mississippi River; the western part of its range has also shrunk.

The reason for the decline is linked to the House Wren, which uses the same nesting sites as the Bewick’s Wren. This is because the House Wren takes over the Bewick’s Wren nests and evicts their eggs or destroys the nest. They are also threatened by pesticide use and competing European Starlings, House Sparrows, Song Sparrows and Carolina Wrens.

Where To Find Them

Bewick’s Wren inhabits chaparral, scrub and thicket vegetation in open areas, brushy areas, open woodlands, oak woodlands, evergreen forests, desert scrub, cacti stands, mesquite, willows, hedgerows, gardens, parks, cities and suburban environments.

This species is mostly resident, but some may migrate a short distance. This wren is extremely rare in the state and is now considered an accidental species that was last seen within the state borders in 1995. They used to occur around Columbus, Findlay, Toledo, Cleveland and Jackson.

Conclusion

The relatively small state of Ohio contains a good variety of bird species, and the wrens are no exception. The Carolina Wren is the only wren that is common throughout the year, but at least five species can be seen at the right time of year when migratory species enter or pass through the state.

Wrens can be difficult to see as they often move inconspicuously through their favoured habitat type, but their loud variable songs and calls often give their presence away.

The wrens found in Ohio are all of “least concern” conservation status, but many species face habitat destruction threats. Species like the Sedge Wren and Rock Wren have had decreasing population size trends over the past several decades due to various human-induced factors. The Bewick’s Wren has had a dramatic reduction in distribution range due to other species’ influences and destruction. Conservation action may need to be considered to protect certain species.

Wrens may be seen in many birding locations within the state, and if you are lucky, they may live in or pass through your yard.