Wrens in Wyoming

9 Wrens in Wyoming, Including Rarely Spotted Birds

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Wrens are a delightful family of small, energetic songbirds that can be found across North America, including Wyoming.

With their loud, complex songs and acrobatic movements, wrens bring excitement to backyards and natural areas where they live. Though cute and animated, wrens can be tricky to spot thanks to their tiny size and camouflaged feathers that help them blend into vegetation.

Getting a glimpse of these birds takes patience and knowledge of their habits. There are only 5 species of wrens that reside in or migrate through Wyoming every year, but there are 4 more that are rarely spotted in the state.

Learning to identify these resident wrens and watch for rare visitors provides an enjoyable challenge for birders. This article provides helpful facts and tips for spotting the different wrens that call Wyoming home.

What Makes a Wren a Wren, Anyway?

Wrens are in the family Troglodytidae, an avian group of around 80 species found worldwide. Their name comes from the Greek word for “cave-dweller.” They don’t live in caves, but their cave-like nests are unique when compared to many other birds.

They are distinct from other perching birds in a number of other ways:

  • Size and Shape: Wrens are small, plump birds with thin, pointed bills. They range from 4 to 8 inches in length. Their compact, rounded bodies and short wings are pretty consistent from one wren to the next, but their most noticeable feature is their upward-pointed tail.
  • Vocalizations: Wrens are known for their loud, complex songs and calls used for communication. Many wren species are highly vocal throughout the year. Their voices stand out against other birds.
  • Plumage: Most wrens have brown, buff, or gray feathers that provide camouflage in vegetation. Some species have additional markings like barring or speckling. Their cryptic coloration helps wrens blend into their surroundings. In forests, they tend to be brown. In the rocky deserts of the western US, they are gray.
  • Behavior: Wrens are agile and acrobatic. They hop quickly along the ground and climb easily through dense brush. This allows them to forage actively for food.
  • Nests: Wrens usually build domed nests out of twigs, grass, moss, and other materials in cavities or hidden locations. Their nest-building skills are impressive for such small birds. Often, the male builds the nest and the female finishes it. He may also build “dummy nests,” which are shabbily constructed nests that she can choose from.
  • Diet: Wrens are primarily insectivorous, feeding on insects and spiders. They forage by investigating crevices and hollows where invertebrates hide. Some will also eat some fruit and plant matter, snails, or even small frogs and lizards.

Tips for Spotting Wrens in Wyoming

Wrens’ elusive nature makes them one of the more challenging bird families to observe. Here are some useful tips for catching sight of these little birds in Wyoming:

  • Listen closely for wren vocalizations. Their loud songs and calls often reveal their presence before you see them.
  • Search areas like tree cavities, brush piles, and rock crevices where wrens may nest and take cover.
  • Look for wrens hopping furtively on the ground and perching in dense, low vegetation where they forage and hide.
  • Try using “pishing” noises or squeak toys to attract curious wrens into more open areas.
  • Notice signs near potential nest sites like old nests, feathers, or accumulated prey remains that indicate wrens in the area.
  • Use patience and be alert to subtle rustling in the brush that could signal a wren on the move. Their camouflage makes them easy to miss.

Why Are Wrens So Important to Wyoming’s Ecosystem?

Though small, wrens play a valuable ecological role across the diverse habitats of Wyoming.

As insectivores, they help control pest insect and spider populations that can damage plants and spread disease. Wrens also contribute to seed dispersal and pollination as they forage. Their abandoned nests provide food resources for other wildlife.

The presence of wrens provides one indicator of the overall health of Wyoming’s terrestrial ecosystems. Protecting habitats that support wren populations is important for maintaining biodiversity across the state.

Now, let’s meet the wrens of Wyoming!

There are 9 on our list, and we have divided them into birds that are here all year, birds here only in the summer, and birds that are accidental vagrants or rare visitors to the state. Note that there are no wrens that migrate through Wyoming on a consistent basis, and there are no wrens that come here for the winter.

Wrens in Wyoming All Year

Our first subcategory of wrens in Wyoming has only one bird on the list: The Canyon Wren! This is the only wren that says in Wyoming all year long.

Canyon Wren

Canyon Wren
  • Scientific Name: Catherpes mexicanus
  • Family: Troglodytidae
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Length: 4.5-6.1 in (11.4-15.4 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.7 oz (9.9-18.3 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.1-7.9 in (18-20 cm)

Canyon Wrens are subtly colored brown birds with white throat stripes. Their tails are fairly long and often cocked upright. They have a white eye ring and fine white barring on the belly and tail. This barring gives them a pretty cute, delicate appearance.

Their thin bills curve slightly downward. Overall their plumage provides good camouflage against the rocky cliffs of their habitat.

As their name suggests, Canyon Wrens live along rocky canyon walls and cliff faces in western Wyoming. They are found in places like the Bighorn Mountains, across the Continental Divide, and along sections of the Snake River. They are less likely to be found in the Great Plains, but their population picks up again in the Black Hills.

Canyon Wrens use their strong legs and sharp claws to climb vertically up sheer cliff faces with ease. They build nests of grass and feathers in rock crevices on cliff walls, or sometimes in buildings. They forage for spiders and insects on canyon walls. Their loud, echoing songs reverberate off the rocks.

Interesting facts about Canyon Wrens:

  • They make their way across canyon walls by clinging tightly to the rocky surface with one foot and stepping forward with the other.
  • Canyon Wrens are non-migratory and remain in their rocky canyon habitats year-round.

Wrens in Wyoming All Summer

There are four kinds of wrens that visit Wyoming for the summer breeding season. They are Bewick’s Wrens, House Wrens, Marsh Wrens, and Rock Wrens (don’t forget that you’ll also see the Canyon Wren in the summertime, as it stays around all year).

Bewick’s Wren

Bewick’s Wren
  • Scientific Name: Thryomanes bewickii
  • Family: Troglodytidae
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Length: 5-6 in
  • Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz
  • Wingspan: 7-8 in

Bewick’s Wrens are plain, light brown birds with white chins and throat regions. Their eyes are striking with bright white eye rings and white stripes above. That eyebrow stripe gives them a stern-looking expression. The tail is long and often held cocked upright. Their wings and tail are lightly barred in black.

In Wyoming, Bewick’s Wrens occupy open woodlands, thickets, and brushy areas, especially with dense, low cover. They nest in cavities in trees or structures. Their range is limited to the southern border of the state, during the summer.

Bewick’s Wrens sing loud, complex songs from concealed perches. They are also aggressive defenders of their breeding territories. Bewick’s Wrens are mainly insectivores but will also eat some seeds and berries.

Interesting facts about the Bewick’s Wren:

  • They remove the old nest lining before starting a new nest within a cavity. They will nest in just about any cavity, including woodpecker holes, abandoned buildings, barn rafters, and nest boxes.
  • Bewick’s Wrens are usually monogamous, and they even forage together when the female is not incubating eggs.

House Wren

House Wren
  • Scientific Name: Troglodytes aedon
  • Family: Troglodytidae
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Length: 4.3-5.1 in
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz
  • Wingspan: 5.5-6.1 in

House Wrens are small, energetic brown birds with subtly barred wings and tails. Their undersides are light grey, and they have a bold white eyebrow stripe over their eyes. That eyestripe, in fact, is the easiest way to differentiate the House Wren from other small birds in Wyoming.

House Wrens have a long, thin bill and a short tail that they often hold cocked upright.

House Wrens breed in open woodlands across much of Wyoming. They nest in cavities in trees, old woodpecker holes, nest boxes, and other enclosed spaces. During migration, they stop in varied brushy habitats.

House Wrens are very territorial and will outcompete other native wrens. They raise multiple broods each season, as long as there is enough food. They thrive in human-occupied environments, often building nests in abandoned household items and buildings.

The loud, rapid song of House Wrens helps birders identify them. They can be aggressive toward other cavity nesters. House Wrens build a nest cup of twigs and stuff the remaining cavity with sticks to reduce room for competitors. They raise multiple broods in a season when food is abundant.

Interesting facts about House Wrens:

  • Although they are good at camouflage, they avoid heavily wooded areas for their nests because they are put at a disadvantage when it comes to looking out for predators.
  • Males build multiple nests, and females select the nest they prefer to breed in. The male’s “dummy nests” are often very loosely constructed.
  • House Wrens have one of the largest ranges of any songbird in the Americas.

Marsh Wren

Marsh Wren
  • Scientific Name: Cistothorus palustris
  • Family: Troglodytidae
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Length: 5-6 in
  • Weight: 0.4-0.5 oz
  • Wingspan: 6.3-8.3 in

Marsh Wrens are small, brown birds with white eyestripes and barred wings and tails. Their short bills are black, and they have pale throats with some streaking that contrasts with their whiter bellies. Their posture is often hunched, but their tail angles upward.

During summer in Wyoming, Marsh Wrens live around marshes, wet meadows, and the vegetated banks of slow streams and ponds. They favor areas with cattails, rushes, and dense grasses, where they can easily build their sturdy nests.

It is the male Marsh Wren that builds several globular nests of reeds and grasses over the water, and the female selects one to lay eggs in. Because Marsh Wrens are non-monogamous, they have to build multiple nests for each of their mates. There are records of Marsh Wrens building up to 22 nests!

They sing constantly from high perches. Marsh Wrens mainly eat insects and will submerge their heads underwater to hunt aquatic insects.

Marsh Wrens are on our summer list for Wyoming because most of the state is part of their breeding range. However, they are year-round residents of the southwestern corner of the state. In the northeastern part of the state, they are only seen during their spring or fall migrations.

Interesting facts about the Marsh Wren:

  • In the fall, they migrate at night and can fly long distances without stopping.
  • Marsh Wrens have experienced population growth over the last several decades. The biggest threat to their population is the destruction of their wetland habitats.

Rock Wren

Rock Wren
  • Scientific Name: Salpinctes obsoletus
  • Family: Troglodytidae
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Length: 5-6 in
  • Weight: 0.4-0.5 oz
  • Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in

Rock Wrens are pale gray above with black and white spotting on the wings and tail. Their throat and breast are pale with fine dark streaks. The belly is whitish and the bill is black and slender. Their legs are long in proportion to their body.

You’ll notice that the Rock Wren is gray instead of brown. This is because it has adapted to hide among rocky canyons and cliffs instead of brushy forest undergrowth.

In Wyoming, Rock Wrens occupy rocky outcrops, cliff faces, and sloping rocky hills. They are found throughout much of the state during the summer, although they are not really found in the Yellowstone region of the northwest corner.

Rock Wrens are often non-migratory, although some small groups do travel. Sometimes, they are blown off their flight paths and end up very far from home!

Rock Wrens are ground foragers who search on the ground for insects and spiders. They typically build nests on the ledges of cliffs, but they will sometimes use convenient empty cavities that they find in buildings, bridges, and even abandoned mining structures.

Rock Wrens use their voices to defend territory as they do not migrate. They forage on the ground for insects and spiders, often bobbing their short tails. Though they nest on cliff ledges, they will also use cavities in buildings, bridges, and abandoned mining structures.

Interesting facts about the Rock Wren:

  • Rock Wren males sing a beautiful song with many complex syllables.
  • Their eggs and fledglings are preyed on by snakes that climb cliff nest sites.
  • Rock Wren pairs may remain mated for life, rare among songbird species.
  • Rock Wrens have never been documented drinking water! They apparently get all of the hydration they need from the insets and spiders that they eat.

Rarely-Spotted Wrens in Wyoming

There are several wrens that are not regular or consistent visitors to Wyoming, but have a track record of being spotted in the state. This includes the Carolina Wren, the Pacific Wren, the Sedge Wren, and the Winter Wren.

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren
  • Scientific Name: Thryothorus ludovicianus
  • Family: Troglodytidae
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Length: 5.5-6.5 in
  • Weight: 0.7-0.9 oz
  • Wingspan: 7-9 in

Carolina Wrens have rich, coppery-brown upperparts and pale cinnamon-colored underparts. Their face has bold white markings including a thick brow stripe. The bill is long and curves downward slightly. Like other wrens on our list, the Carolina Wren’s tail cocks upward most of the time.

Carolina Wrens are almost exclusively found in the eastern half of the United States. They are non-migratory birds who stay in one place all year. They are rarely found in Wyoming, but there has been at least one sighting of a Carolina Wren outside of Casper.

Carolina Wrens have loud, ringing voices that carry far through their territory. They build domed nests of grasses, leaves, and bark strips in natural cavities or manmade sites. Carolina Wrens may raise 2-3 broods per breeding season.

Interesting facts about the Carolina Wren:

  • During very cold winters, the Carolina Wren is dependent upon its mate to stay warm. They do not roost with other birds, even when the temperatures are frigid.
  • Males often bring food to females that are incubating eggs, but once the eggs hatch, both parents feed their young.

Pacific Wren

Pacific Wren
  • Scientific Name: Troglodytes pacificus
  • Family: Troglodytidae
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Length: 4-5 in
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz
  • Wingspan: 5.5-6.5 in

Pacific Wrens are warm brown above with subtle black barring on the wings and tail. The throat and breast are pale with buff-colored flanks. Their field marks include a bold white supercilium (eyebrow stripe), dark lores, and faint barring on the belly. The bill is black, thin, and relatively short.

Pacific Wrens aren’t common in Wyoming, but there are small populations just outside of both the eastern and western borders of the state. This means that some individuals usually end up in Wyoming, especially in the west.

Pacific Wrens thrive in moist, old-growth coniferous forests. They are cavity nesters who forage on the ground for food.

The male Pacific Wren is much more likely to sing during the breeding season, but he may also sing during the winter. He has a 5-10 second song made up of up to 50 different phrases.

Their nests are dome-shaped and may be in a fallen tree, along a creek bank, or in a decaying log. They will also nest in tree cavities and human-made structures. Males build the nests, and females add soft animal fur and feathers to line the inside. They will nest up to 23 feet above the ground.

Interesting facts about the Pacific Wren:

  • Pacific Wrens are early migrants in the spring, but late migrants in the fall. This gives them a particularly long breeding season.
  • They do not flock with other wrens; instead, they live a very solitary life with just their chosen mate.
  • Fortunately, the Pacific Wren population is stable. Conservationists worry that if their old-growth forests continue to be damaged by fires, climate change, and suburban expansion, they may lose enough habitat to decline in population.

Sedge Wren

Sedge Wren
  • Scientific Name: Cistothorus platensis
  • Family: Troglodytidae
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Length: 4.5-5.5 in
  • Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz
  • Wingspan: 5.9-6.7 in

Sedge Wrens are slender, well-camouflaged brown birds with buff-colored underparts and short tails. They have indistinct streaking on the back and crown. The thin bill is darker on top fading to pale at the base. Their wings are barred in light, creamy white.

Sedge Wrens build globe-shaped nests above wet grounds, but not directly in the marshes. The male builds several nests, and the female chooses which one is best for her hatchlings.

Wyoming is outside of the Sedge Wren’s typical range, which is in central Canada and the US. However, there have been documented sightings in the state. Specifically, they have been seen outside of Bairoil, near Laramie, and in the Yellowstone area.

Interesting facts about the Sedge Wren:

  • Sedge Wrens are nomadic in their behavior; they often thrive in an area and then choose not to return to it. Their behavior is quite mysterious.
  • Sedge Wrens may be monogamous, polygamous (male has several female mates), or polyandrous (females have several male mates).
  • One of the ways that Sedge Wrens protect their territory is a little unsettling. They will destroy the eggs and nests of nearby Sedge Wrens.

Winter Wren

Winter Wren
  • Scientific Name: Troglodytes hiemalis
  • Family: Troglodytidae
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Length: 3.5-4.3 in
  • Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz
  • Wingspan: 4.7-5.9 in

Winter Wrens are tiny, round brown birds with faint barring on their wings and tails. They have pale brown underparts and a thin and dark bill. They have a light stripe above their eye. Their wings are short and their tail – you guessed it – is cocked upwards.

Winter Wrens are almost exclusively found in the eastern half of the US and across Canada. They live in moist conifer forests and mixed deciduous and conifer forests. They are cavity dwellers who find great nesting spots in downed logs and stumps. While they migrate, they stop along streams and in brushy areas.

Even though they are very small, Winter Wrens are loud! Males sing from an elevated perch, especially in the spring, when they are establishing territory and attracting a mate.

Despite their population being concentrated almost entirely in the east, Winter Wrens have been spotted a number of times in Wyoming – especially in the eastern part of the state.

Interesting facts about the Winter Wren:

  • The Winter Wren will build a nest to fill its cavity; this means that it will build a nest up to the size of a football!
  • The Winter Wren’s song is delivered with 10x more power than that of a rooster. Talk about a powerful voice.

Other Birds in Wyoming

If you have enjoyed this guide to wrens in Wyoming, we have so many more birds to tell you about!

Wild Bird Scoop has put together guides to several kinds of birds in the state. Using these lists can help you become an experienced and skilled birder in Wyoming, whether you live here or are just visiting!

Here are the lists from Wild Bird Scoop that you can use to get more birding experience:

Whether you are looking for tiny hummingbirds, impressive birds of prey, songbirds, or waterfowl, these lists have you covered! Have fun birding in Wyoming.

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