Carolina Wren Nesting, Feeding, Winter Habits Unveiled

Carolina Wrens, the state bird of SC, are southern birds that do not migrate in the traditional sense.

Yet, some younger birds travel northward for unknown reasons and set up new territories for nesting.

Currently, its breeding range is as far north as Wisconsin, Minnesota, and southern New England.

As long as winters are mild, these young birds will build resident populations.

If winter becomes severe, resulting in food shortages, these birds will perish by not moving south.

This northward cycle would then be repeated over time.

A not-so-common fact about Carolina Wrens is their ability to mimic the voices of other birds, which they occasionally do.

Carolina Wren On Branch

Its call of tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle, Chirrrrrr is well known by friends of this bird.

Often you'll hear this bird way before you see it. You can listen to its call using the player below.

Carolina Wren Song Call What They Sound Like

Press the button to hear what two of the Carolina Wrens Call sound like.

First, you'll hear the common tweedle, tweedle, tweedle, song, which is used for announcing territory and to attract a mate. Also used for communicating with mate.

The second sound is the rasping call which is used to warn intruders.

What They Look Like Description

Carolina Wrens measure 5 1/2 to 6 inches in length with warm brown upperparts and buff-tinged underparts.

Birdwatchers can look for a bold white eyebrow, a white chin, and no streaking on the back.

The white line eyebrow is helpful in correct identification. This white line is an easy way to distinguish it from the House Wren.

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Mating Breeding Habits

Carolina Wren Singing

Carolina Wrens may form pairs at any time during the year but primarily in the Fall.

These pairs tend to stay together (mate for life) as long as both are alive.

Pairs can be seen traveling together throughout their feeding and nesting territory.

What Month Do Carolina Wrens Lay Eggs?

Carolina Wrens in the south, can begin laying eggs of first broods as early as March. In the north first egg laying may begin in April.

Second and third broods can be started as late June.

Nesting Habits

Carolina Wrens make a domed, cup-shaped nest made of twigs, grass, and bark. The inside is lined with fine materials.

The distinctive side entrance seen in the picture below is very helpful in identifying the nest from other bird's nests.

completed carolina wren nest

What a Carolina Wren Nest Looks Like

Located anywhere from 1 to 10 feet above the ground, the nests can be found in almost anything.

You'll find the nests in tree cavities, propane tank lids, BBQs, man-made birdhouses, hanging baskets, and even your door wreaths.

Both males and females participate in nest building.

Carolina Wren Nesting Stats
Carolina Wren Nesting Stats
Eggs 4 - 8
Incubation 12 - 14 days
Nestling Phase 12- 14 days
Broods 2 - 3

How Long does it take for Carolina Wrens Eggs to Hatch?

The female lays 4 - 8 eggs that are creamy or pink-white with brown marks.

Incubation is done by the female and begins after the last egg is laid.

It will take 12 - 14 days of incubation before the Carolina Wrens eggs hatch.

The male will feed the female while she incubates the eggs. Sometimes the male will call and the female will go to the male for food.

range map for carolina wren

Carolina Wren Range Map

The young will leave the nest in 12 -14 days after hatching.

When the young are due to fledge, the adults will make several trips to the nest with no food. This encourages the young to leave the nest.

2 or 3 broods are raised each season. The breeding season runs from April to July. Southern birds may begin nesting in March.

While a new nest is constructed for each brood, the nest may be located in the same area as a previous nest.

Often the female will stay in the nest rather than take flight when you approach the nest.

This is about protecting the eggs more than being unafraid of your presence. Too much human activity may cause nest abandonment.

What do Carolina Wrens Eat?

Carolina Wren on suet feeder

They are most commonly seen foraging on the ground, tossing leaf litter aside, and looking for insects to eat.

Some of the insects in their diet are crickets, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, caterpillars, moths and chinch bugs.

You can also find them feeding along downed limbs or climbing the trunks of trees and inserting their bill in the bark in search of food.

What to Feed Carolina Wrens in Winter

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Carolina Wrens visit my feeders here in Kansas all winter long. In winter, these Wrens will eat sunflower heart chips.

I also provide safflower seed and suet for them to eat. It's an important supplement to their diet as it adds fat that helps in winter.

A Heated Birdbath can help provide drinking and bathing water in both summer and winter.

Video of Carolina Wren at Birdfeeder

Carolina Wren Feeding on Insects

Selecting Seeds Out of Shell

Watch Videos of Carolina Wrens

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