The Americas are home to over 80 species of wren, but only four are likely to be found in New Jersey, as most wren species are native to South and Central America.
Three of the four New Jersey wrens are frequent breeding residents, and whether you’ve seen them or not, you’ve probably heard at least one of their calls. Let’s take a look.
(All measurements are via the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds.)
- Troglodytes aedon
- Length: 4.3-5.1 inches
- Weight: 0.3-0.4 ounces
- Wingspan: 5.9 inches
The house wren is a familiar bird across the Western Hemisphere, with a range that extends to the southernmost tip of South America.
In North America, they breed through most of the United States as well as parts of southern Canada.
They breed in New Jersey before migrating South in the fall. You can hear their calls and songs in backyard bushes, trees, city parks, and forests.
Here’s a sample of their song from a wren in Pennsylvania:
House wrens are small brown birds with often upright tails. They have curved bills and a mix of brown and light coloring.
- Thryothorus ludovicianus
- Length: 4.7-5.5 inches
- Weight: 0.6-0.8 ounces
- Wingspan: 11.4 inches
Named for a couple of states to the south of New Jersey, the Carolina wren is a common bird across the eastern United States, excluding northeastern states like Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
Despite being insect eaters, these year-round New Jerseyans will visit feeders for suet, especially as temperatures start to dip and bugs become more scarce.
They are frequent singers, belting out what All About Birds describes as a “teakettle-teakettle” set of notes that can be heard from backyards, parks, and other areas of dense vegetation with ample insect life and cavity nesting options.
Carolina wrens have rusty undersides and reddish brown backs that have dark barring along the wings and top side of the tail. One signature mark is a long, white eyebrow stripe that boldly graces the Carolina wren’s face.
- Troglodytes hiemalis
- Length: 3.1-4.7 inches
- Weight: 0.3-0.4 ounces
- Wingspan: 4.7-6.3 inches
Winter wrens are round little wrens with very short tails, which becomes even more evident as they stick up directly behind the birds.
Winter wrens have some small white marks near the shoulders and sides, a light eyebrow line, and dark barring on their wings and tails. This barring can help you tell a winter wren from a house wren, as well as tail length and the generally warmer brown color of the winter wren.
House wrens are more common and likely to be seen than winter wrens, but there are still plenty of winter wren sightings in New Jersey during the winter time. Look for them in forested areas.
- Cistothorus palustris
- Length: 3.9-5.5 inches
- Weight: 0.3-0.5 ounces
- Wingspan: 5.9 inches
Last but not least is the marsh wren, a year-round resident of New Jersey’s marshes and wetlands. Their preference for thick marsh vegetation makes them a tough spot, but their song may partially give away their location:
One key identifier of a marsh wren is its unmarked shoulders. While the bottom halves of the wings are streaky, their shoulder area is just brown. They have unstreaked undersides that turn to white as you move up from the belly toward the upper chest and throat.
Marsh wrens in the Eastern United States and West vary in appearance and in song. One key difference is that those in the East, including New Jersey, have richer brown coloring than those further west.
More to Explore
There may only be four sparrow species common in New Jersey, but the Garden State is home to many other birds to find and add to your life list.
We also have a list of some of New Jersey’s most famous avian species, which you can find here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Wrens Good Birds to Have in Your Yard?
Wrens are fun birds to have around because of their loud songs. If you’re looking for someone to eat up insects, wrens are also good for that too.
Wrens are cavity nesters, so to attract breeding wrens to your yard, you’ll need to have enough trees with holes in them or put up a nest box.
Nest boxes are particularly popular with house wrens, though other non-wren species may also use them, including unpopular birds like house wrens and European starlings.
What Birds Look Similar to Wrens?
Brown creepers look very similar to wrens. In New Jersey, they’re mostly a winter species.
Other little brown birds like sparrows can also be difficult to identify without getting a good look at them.
What Other Wrens Live in North America?
Other wren species in North America include the rock wren, sedge wren, canyon wren, Pacific wren, Bewick’s wren, and cactus wren.