Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.

North Reading, MA © Joshua Goddard

Carolina Wrens

Although once limited to the southeastern United States, Carolina Wrens have spread north all the way to New England, where they can be found in all seasons. With its tail cocked at a jaunty angle and its bold white eyebrow-stripe lending a rakish air, a Carolina Wren is a vocal and active visitor to any suburban neighborhood. 

How to Identify Carolina Wrens 

Like most wrens, Carolina Wrens are small (5.5”) brown birds with fairly short tails that they often hold cocked upward. Their bills are well-suited for probing for insects, being long, pointed, and slightly decurved. 

Their plumage is more reddish than that of the other common suburban wren (the House Wren), and their underparts are a warm buff rather than gray or white. Most conspicuously, Carolina Wrens have a bright white eyebrow-stripe (known as a supercilium), while house wrens have no eyebrow-stripe at all. 

Pictures of the Carolina Wren

  • Carolina Wren calling out within a green branches
    Carolina Wren © Craig Blanchette
  • Carolina Wren perched on ledge
    Carolina Wren © Sharon Siter
  • Carolina Wren perches among branches
    Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren Behavior 

It’s true that the wings of Carolina Wrens are ill-suited for soaring like an eagle. However, they are well-suited for flitting from branch to branch in the tangled undergrowth where the species prefers to forage. 

Carolina Wrens have historically been found mostly in the moist bottomland forests of the southern US, but they have proven to be remarkably adaptable.

They've have taken full advantage of milder winters and have increased substantially as both breeding and wintering birds in Massachusetts over the past few decades. Even high mortality during cold, snowy winters does not seem to have lasting negative impacts on the more northern segments of the population. 

Today, the emphatic song of the Carolina Wren is frequently heard in both wilderness thickets and suburban developments throughout Massachusetts, but that has not always been the case. 

Carolina Wren Song

How Mass Audubon is Supporting Birds in Massachusetts   

Mass Audubon works at our wildlife sanctuaries and beyond to ensure that the nature of Massachusetts continues to thrive. By scientifically monitoring Massachusetts birdlife, Mass Audubon informs important conservation decisions and launches targeted initiatives to help at-risk species. In addition, fostering healthy habitats, supporting native species, and educating people about the importance of nature conservation is critical to our success. Learn more about our work

How You Can Support Birds in Massachusetts  

Mass Audubon supports birds like the Carolina Wren every day, but we couldn’t do it without the support of our 160,000+ members.    

Help support Carolina Wrens, and birds like them, by becoming a member today.    

Join Mass Audubon