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Songbirds of North Dakota


Family Troglodytidae

Wrens belong to the family Troglodytidae which is taken from the Greek word troglodytes, meaning "creeper into holes". There are 10 North American species. In addition to the house wren, one may also see the marsh wren, sedge wren, and rock wren in North Dakota. Most wrens are small, chunky birds with slightly curved bills and tails which are often tilted upwards. They are extremely active and inquisitive, often being lured in by squeaky noises. They defend their territories with intensity and proclaim themselves with a loud song.

House Wren
Troglodytes aedon

JPG -- Picture and Range Map of Species

The house wren was named in the early 1800s because it readily used nesting boxes or "houses" provided for it. It is the most common wren species and has most neutral coloration. It is about 5 inches long with a wingspan of 6 inches. The body is mostly gray-brown and more pale on the chest. The tail feathers and wings have distinct black barring and the eye has an indistinct light streak running over it. The male arrives before the female in hte spring to an area that it has previously nested before. It prefers the edges of woods, tree rows, parks, gardens, and even residential areas. It nests in natural cavities but will also nest in artificial nesting boxes, flower pots, cow skulls, and abandoned hornet nests. The female lays 5-9 white eggs that are speckled with brown. The house wren eats almost entirely insects. House wrens migrate south to winter in southern coastal states.

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