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Carolina Wren
Photos © Kim Hosen, suburban backyard, Woodbridge, VA; December 2009

Carolina Wren
Thryothorus ludovicianus
Family - Troglodytidae (Wrens)

The size of a sparrow, this wren is colored a rich rusty brown above and pale brown below, with a whitish throat and a long white line over its eye. Unlike a sparrow, the wren holds its tail angled up when it is perching or walking.

Its bill, used for plucking insects and spiders from the ground or trees, is down-curved and relatively long.

This wren lives in lowland thickets and heavy undergrowth near streams and swamps, as well as in moist woodlands in rural and suburban areas.

It is a permanent resident throughout its range in North America east of the Great Plains, from Minnesota to southern New England and south down to Florida and eastern Mexico.

In summer it may be joined in our area by the House Wren, which is a duller brown, has more prominent barring on its sides, and lacks the white eye line.

In the coldest months, on the other hand, the Winter Wren may leave the northern and Appalachian forests to seek warmth and food along with the Carolina Wren. That northern bird is even smaller (about the size of a kinglet) and browner below, with a shorter tail and more barring than the other two species.

Carolina Wrens pair for life and share a territory year-round. They nest in low tree cavities or in dense growth of vines or branches, and even in mailboxes, hanging plant pots, boots and other small holes in houses or barns.