New Hampshire is one of the tiniest states, so why not take a look at one of the tiniest bird species? There are 6 wrens you can spot while enjoying this state’s vibrant and salty climate and habitats.
These songbirds are widely beloved for their complex songs, an interesting detail contrasted with their much quieter plumage. They also frequent bodies of water, which makes them a great pick for birders who enjoy boating or fishing.
How can you spot wrens when they’re so good at blending into their environment (and even other wren species)? I’ll help you spot them with tips on their appearance, birdsong, and behavioral patterns.
- Species Name: Thryothorus ludovicianus
- Length: 12 cm to 14 cm
- Weight: 18 grams to 22 grams
- Wingspan: 29 cm
One of my favorite terms as a birder is ‘borb’ – a bird so round they look like an orb. The Carolina wren is a shoo-in for this term with its delightfully chunky shape.
The male Carolina wren is an adorable little fellow with chestnut brown wings, a tan belly, and a perky tail. His wings are flecked with little white speckles and he has a characteristic white eyebrow stripe.
Females actually look quite similar to the males! It’s also worth noting these birds can even take on an orange hue in certain lights.
These birds prefer to make their home in heavily forested areas where they can dig around for food. They usually don’t show up in urban environments with the exception of overgrown backyards.
Expect to see Carolina wrens in the state year-round, though they’re not the most common. They’re also very hard to spot since their plumage blends them into the grass, thickets, and shrubbery of their preferred environments.
These birds have quite a mighty diet for such a small size! They’ll usually eat insects, but they’ll even try a little frog or lizard to shake things up.
As is classic with songbirds, they also try seeds, especially when it gets cold. You may be able to attract a few to your bird feeder with sunflower seeds or suet in the winter months.
This wren may not be easy to spot visually, but they have a distinctive call. They let out short warbles with a memorable hwee-er hwee-er hwee pattern.
Carolina wrens have a hard time making it through the colder months since they prefer wetter and warmer environments. As such, birders can help them by building nest boxes or setting out suet feeders during winter.
- Species Name: Troglodytes aedon
- Length: 11 cm to 13 cm
- Weight: 10 grams to 12 grams
- Wingspan: 15 cm
This humble little wren is visually overshadowed by other species, but he’s got one of the most dynamic birdsongs around.
Male and female house wrens look practically identical. These birds have light, gray-brown bodies with speckled wings and tails.
They have the characteristic thin, swooping beak and round bodies of other wrens.
These birds are fairly common (hence the name), but still shake up their population according to the season. Expect to see house wrens most frequently during spring and fall.
House wrens are comfortable in urban and suburban environments. You’ll most likely see a few birds foraging around backyards, gardens, parks, and forest edges.
Insects are the go-to meal for house wrens (and that’s good news if you hate pests!). They’ll frequently eat beetles, spiders, flies, and any other crunchy critter they can find.
Since house wrens don’t go for seeds, you’ll have to find another way to attract them to your backyard. Consider building a little nest box somewhere shrubby or near a cluster of trees.
If you put your nest box somewhere too spacious and open, they won’t feel safe enough to lay their eggs.
The house wren’s distinctive song has jumbled notes and doesn’t follow any particular pattern. They’ll chitter, warble, and chirp more like a chatty human than a songbird!
These birds are so unafraid of people, they’ll build their nests in mailboxes or porch planters.
- Species Name: Troglodytes hiemalis
- Length: 8 cm to 12 cm
- Weight: 8 grams to 12 grams
- Wingspan: 12 cm to 16 cm
New Hampshire is simply dazzling in the springtime. Despite this bird’s name, they usually show up during spring or summer.
The winter wren looks extremely similar to the house wren. These birds have plump, cinnamon-brown bodies flecked with light gray or white.
They stand out from the house wren by having a shorter tail. Their color is also a little darker.
These wrens prefer to visit New Hampshire during the breeding season, though it’s possible to see a few year-round. That said, they’re so easily confused with house wrens, that this number isn’t easy to verify.
The more shrubby and overgrown an area, the more likely you’ll see a winter wren. They’re in love with tangled forests, dense vegetation, and messy backyards.
If you want to spot other birds during the warmer months, keep an eye out for the state’s thriving hummingbird population, too!
Got insects? If you’re tired of creepy crawlies popping up in your garden, these wrens will take care of them.
Winter wrens enjoy a steady diet of spiders, ants, and caterpillars. They’ll even eat wasps and millipedes!
While they eat the occasional berry, the most reliable way to attract them to your backyard is by letting it get shrubby.
The winter wren’s birdsong is the stuff of dreams. Expect to hear a slow, sweet call of chirps, twitters, and warbles.
Male and female winter wrens look quite similar. Combined with their similarity to the house wren, this is a pretty tough bird to identify all around!
- Species Name: Cistothorus palustris
- Length: 10 cm to 14 cm
- Weight: 9 grams to 14 grams
- Wingspan: 15 cm
With over 6,000 acres of squishy, wet salt marsh, the marsh wren is right at home. They offer a fantastic photo opportunity with their habit of clinging to green reeds.
Male and female sedge wrens look very similar. This bird has a light brown body with a whitish belly and a slightly curved beak.
Their wings are black with white speckles. Combined with their stick-straight tail and peculiar perching habit, they’re a very charming bird.
Expect to see sedge wrens hopping around during the breeding season, though a few linger until the fall. Their favorite stomping grounds are marshland where they can forage through reeds for their main food supply.
Marsh wrens spend much of their time near bodies of water to pluck off any insect that scurries too close. Locusts, spiders, caterpillars, grasshoppers, they’ll eat them all.
Have you ever scratched the hook side of Velcro just to hear that zee-ee-ee sound? That’s just what the marsh wren sounds like – buzzy and rough.
Male marsh wrens don’t mess around during breeding season. They’ll build several nests to impress a female, even though she’ll only end up using one.
- Species Name: Thryomanes bewickii
- Length: 13 cm
- Weight: 8 grams to 12 grams
- Wingspan: 18 cm
This wren is a little more visually distinctive than the others on this list. However, they’re also an accidental species and show up rarely in New Hampshire.
These birds have a light gray-brown body and a bright white stomach. Their tail is a little longer than other wrens, sticking up like a black and white flag.
Bewick’s wren is not a fan of open spaces. They much prefer thickets, shrubs, and overgrown woodland.
While they’ll forage on the ground, they’ll also hop from tree to tree. Wherever there’s an insect, this bird will be hot on the trail.
These wrens are extremely fond of soft insects such as caterpillars, larvae, and bees. However, they won’t pass up a beetle or a spider.
Interestingly enough, they will occasionally switch to seeds during the winter. If you stock up on sunflower seeds or suet, you may see one crop up at your feeder!
This wren has repetitive and cheerful songs. Listen closely to hear their falling zweeeee, then trill.
The Bewick’s wren is not content to follow tradition. Juveniles actually learn their calls from neighboring males, not their family.
- Species Name: Cistothorus stellaris
- Length: 10 cm to 12 cm
- Weight: 7 grams to 10 grams
- Wingspan: 12 cm to 14 cm
Another rare wren in New Hampshire is the curiously named sedge wren. If you plan on visiting any of New Hampshire’s marshlands, keep a very sharp eye out.
Male and female sedge wrens look similar. These birds have cinnamon-brown bodies with black flecked wings and a black striped tail.
A standout feature is this bird’s bright orange or pinkish legs. Try not to confuse the sedge wren with the marsh wren, which has a lighter stomach and fewer stripes.
This bird is quite cozy in the wettest and most overgrown areas. They prefer heavy marshland, damp meadows, and tall grasslands.
If you feel like taking the scenic New Hampshire route, consider swinging by the Spruce Swamp or Blueberry Swamp. Not only may you glimpse these wrens, but you’ll also have a slew of fun fishing and photography opportunities!
While this wren enjoys spiders and grasshoppers as much as the next, they also enjoy eating moths.
Their song is sharp, short, and rather buzzy. Expect to hear chirps that sound a little like a zipper opening and closing.
Sedge wrens are rather picky birds and may abandon an area if it’s too wet or too dry.
New Hampshire Wrens Are Tough to Spot and Delightful To Listen to
Wrens aren’t the most visually distinctive of bird species, but they have some of the most charming calls and behavior. I’m always impressed by how adaptable they are when it comes to living and nesting habits!
Backyard birders may be at a bit of a loss with these marshy inhabitants but don’t give up. The Bewick’s wren and winter wren may still visit your feeder if you keep it stocked with their favorites.
Outdoor birders have the advantage here since these wrens prefer to stick to marshlands and grasslands. Kayakers may spot these birds while on a slow, scenic glide through New Hampshire’s waters.
The Spruce Swamp and Blueberry Swamp are just a few gorgeous locations you can check out on your bird-watching trip.
What other bird species does New Hampshire have? Our guide on birds in New Hampshire has tips on spotting owls, cardinals, and more!