Wrens in Ohio

7 Wrens in Ohio: An In-depth, Local Spotters’ Guide

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Ohio is known for its hot summers and cool winters — as well as bouts of inclement weather — and the cliffs, hills, and valleys that dominate much of its landscape.

The northern cardinal is its avian mascot. Recognizable by its red plumage, black mask, and tufted head, this rather stately bird is remarkably adaptable and can be found as far north as Canada and as far south as Guatemala. Ohio is also home to the yellow warbler, known for its golden breeding plumage and its fondness for settling in trees close to sources of water.

There are 448 bird species in Ohio. Seven of them belong to the subfamily of small to medium insectivorous passerines. Here you will get to find out all you need to know about wrens in Ohio.

Bewick’s Wren

Bewick’s Wren
  • Scientific Name: Thryomanes bewickii
  • Length: 5 inches
  • Weight: 0.3 to 0.4 ounces
  • Wingspan: 7 inches

A rather talkative bird, the Bewick’s wren can be recognized by a compact build, a slender curved beak, and a slim, upright tail. Depending on its location, its plumage may be dark gray or reddish brown at its upper surface, wings, and tail.

Its chin, throat, and undersurface are white. It also has a white stripe above each of its eyes.

This species is mainly insectivorous and is nimble enough to pursue its prey which includes bees, beetles, bugs, butterflies, and wasps. However, the wren also finds suet and sunflower seeds enjoyable and will help itself to them at birdfeeders.

The Bewick’s wren is rather adaptable in terms of its choice of habitat and can be found in shrubland, chaparral, parks, and gardens.

This passerine is rarely found in Ohio which lies outside its natural range.

It can be found in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado, as well as further east in Texas.

The species can also be found all year round along the Pacific Coast.

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren
  • Scientific Name: Thryothorus ludovicianus
  • Length: 4.9 – 5.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.6 to 0.8 ounces
  • Wingspan: 11 inches

This occasionally diminutive passerine resembles a Bewick wren with reddish plumage whereas the latter’s may be gray. Its undersurface is also pale colored compared to its upper surface and it also has pale stripes above its eyes. This little passerine also has the same upright tail as its relative.

Rather fond of dense vegetation, it may be found in farmlands, woodlands, swamps, or forests close to water. It may also take up residence in abandoned buildings as well. Because there isn’t much sexual dimorphism in this species, telling males apart from females is pretty difficult. However, the former tend to be larger.

This species is primarily insectivorous, although it is not averse to mollusks either. It mainly feeds on ants, bees, beetles, bugs, crickets, and snails. However, it is also partial to vegetarian food and will tuck away dried berries, dried nuts, peanuts, and sunflower seeds.

The California wren can be found all year round throughout Ohio. Its range includes the American South and extends as far north as Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, and even as far as Connecticut on the Atlantic Coast, where it can also be found all year round.

House Wren

House Wren
  • Scientific Name: Troglodytes aedon
  • Length: 4.3 – 5.1 inches
  • Weight: 0.35 to 0.4 ounces
  • Wingspan: 6 inches

Another small finch, the house wren is gray with barring at the wings and feathers. Its yellow beak is also slender and tapered.

It can be found in woods, forests, streamside shrubs, thickets, fields, and gardens. The house wren is mainly insectivorous and is fond of beetles, caterpillars, crickets, moths, spiders, and snails.

The species breeds throughout Ohio and most of the contiguous United States. The house wren’s breeding range extends from Washington on the Pacific Coast to Maine on the Atlantic Coast in the north. In the south it extends from California, bypassing most of Nevada, and part of Utah, to Delaware and Maryland in the east.

Its southernmost limit includes the southernmost point between New Mexico and Arizona.

Marsh Wren

Marsh Wren
  • Scientific Name: Cistothorus palustris
  • Length: 4 – 5.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.3 – 0.5 ounces
  • Wingspan: 6 inches

A rather small bird with a rounded, compact build, the marsh wren can be recognized by a dark brown crown which lightens somewhat to a caramel hue along its upper surface. Its wings and tail exhibit a darker barred pattern while stripes are present above its eyes.

Its chin, throat, and breast, are white and pale cinnamon, while its rump is also a faint caramel. The marsh wren’s slender beak is medium-sized and slightly curved.

Marsh wrens tend to live among cattails which grow in marshes. They are mainly insectivorous and enjoy ants, beetles, bugs, dragonflies, grasshoppers, ground beetles, ladybirds, spiders, and wasps.

The species breeds in the northern United States, including eastern Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana, and northwestern Wyoming.

Its members may also visit Ohio to breed and may be found throughout the state with the exception of the south.

These passerines can be found throughout the year along the Pacific Coast and the Atlantic Coast from Rhode Island to Florida.

Rock Wren

Rock Wren
  • Scientific Name: Salpinctes obsoletus
  • Length: 5 – 6 inches
  • Weight: 0.5 – 0.6 ounces
  • Wingspan: 9 – 9.5 inches

A dark gray upper surface, a white throat, and an undersurface in light cinnamon and pale gray are the key distinguishing features of this species.

Its slender tail and wings also exhibit a faint barred pattern in dark gray and cinnamon. The rock wren’s beak is slender, tapered, and slightly curved.

In keeping with its name, the species is rather fond of breeding in rocky areas and amongst boulders. Its favorite locations are arid, rocky environments.

Although its diet is somewhat shrouded in mystery, the rock wren is known to eat mostly spiders and insects. Both parents also feed their young.

The species is rarely found in Ohio. Its range consists of the western United States in an area with an eastern border extending from western North Dakota to central Texas. It extends all the way to California’s Pacific Coast (with the exception of the north).

Rock wrens breed in its northern part, i.e., in eastern Washington, northeastern Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and northeastern Nevada. They can be found all year round in eastern Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, western Texas, and western Oklahoma.

Sedge Wren

Sedge Wren
  • Scientific Name: Cistothorus stellaris
  • Length: 4 – 5 inches
  • Weight: 0.25 – 0.35 ounces
  • Wingspan: 4.7 – 5.5 inches

This passerine is covered in plumage which is a light toasted cinnamon, pales at the throat and undersurface, and is barred with black at the wings and tail.

Its legs are pale pink, while its slender, slightly curved beak is golden and darkened at the upper tip. The only difference between the male and the female of the species is their size with the former being the larger of the two.

The sedge wren is pretty versatile in terms of its habitat and can be found in bogs, dry and wet grasslands, prairies, and sedge meadows.

It is generally insectivorous and is rather fond of spiders.

The sedge wren may be found throughout Ohio where it goes to breed (the only exception is its southeast). The species’ main breeding range however includes North Dakota, northeastern South Dakota, and Wisconsin. This range can however extend as far south as eastern Arkansas in the south, Delaware in the east, and Maine in the northeast.

It winters in the Deep South, in Florida, Louisiana, southeastern Texas, the eastern parts of the Carolinas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.

Winter Wren

Winter Wren
  • Scientific Name: Troglodytes hiemalis
  • Length: 3 – 5 inches
  • Weight: 0.3 – 0.4 ounces
  • Wingspan: 5 – 6 inches

Another small-sized passerine, the winter wren is covered in brown plumage which is barred with white at the chest, wings, and tail. Its slender beak is rather straight, and short.

This species is rather fond of forests consisting of fir, spruce, and other conifers where it feeds on insects. Although the winter wren is capable of lingering in forests during snowy weather to feed, it does take refuge in abandoned nests, or crevices, alone or in the company of its relatives during harsh weather.

The winter wren indulges in the habit of building a few nests in tree trunks, which remain unlined for added comfort and insulation until the female chooses one of them.

This wren species winters in Ohio and is mainly found in the south. It can however be found all year round in a narrow diagonal corridor that extends from southern New York, through central Pennsylvania, the adjoining borders of West Virginia, and Virginia, and those of Tennessee and North Carolina.


In spite of the wide variety of Ohio’s topography, the wrens’ ability to adapt to varying ecosystems means that the state which lies south of Lake Erie is an excellent location for admiring these passerines.

While some of them such as the house, marsh, and sedge wrens visit to breed, others such as the Carolina wren can be seen throughout the state all year round.

And there are many more birds to admire too, including the ring-beaked gull with its pale gray and white plumage, as well as the snowy owl with its pristine white head feathers.

All of which makes Pennsylvania’s eastern neighbor an ideal location for a birdwatching adventure.

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