WREN (Troglodytes troglodytes)


This tiny round bird, despite their vast numbers, can often be difficult to spot. Residing across the UK, they can be found in gardens, woodland areas, and heathland, but prefer to hide in amongst thick vegetation. Their song is powerful and loud for such a small creature, and they look to be almost vibrating with the intensity of their song, tail raised and body puffed up.

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Alert Status:

Amber - 21% increase ↑

Estimated number of UK breeding

territories: 11 million (updated 2016)

Listen to wren song:


Wrens are small and look almost completely round, with short neck and their stout little tails often held completely vertically against their body. Their legs look especially thin and long against their rotund bodies, and they are warm brown in colouration, with a lighter eye stripe and pale underbelly. Wrens have barring across their body and a long thin bill. It is difficult to tell the difference between ages and sexes, as they all look so alike.

Average Length: 9-10 cm

Average Lifespan: 2 Years

Average Wingspan: 13-17cm

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Wren diet

The wrens diet is mainly insects and spiders, but they will eat a variety of foods, including seeds and berries during the autumn and winter months. Chicks are fed mainly small spiders and beetles.

How to feed: Bird feeders and tables
What to feed: Dried mealworms, suet, peanuts, and sunflower seeds.

Wren breeding and nesting information

During springtime, male wrens establish territories and begin building the nest, normally in the roots of upturned trees or closer to the ground in dense cover. Each wren will generally build more than one nest, so they can attract several females for breeding with. The nests are dome-shaped and made mainly of moss, twigs, leaves, and grass, and lined with feathers. Once a female has chosen her male, she will occupy the nest and the first clutches are laid between April and the end of June. Wrens have 2 broods annually, each clutch containing 5-6 eggs that the female will incubate for around 16-18 days. Fledging will occur around 2 and a half weeks after they have hatched.

Threats to wrens

Wrens are listed as amber species on the birds of conservation concern species list, however only particular subspecies are in decline, including many that reside in the outlying Scottish islands. Cold winter weather has been shown to reduce survival in wren populations, and so extreme weather events (such as cold snaps) may have long-lasting effects on these populations if they occur more frequently.

How you can help

Supplementary feeding on bird tables

Provide fresh, clean water available year-round

Keep your cats indoors during dawn and dusk as wrens can become casualties of cat hunting

Fascinating Fact

Did you know that on the 26th December there is a tradition in Ireland known as ‘the wren hunt’? This is an ancient ritual used to celebrate the winter solstice, though variations on this are seen across the British Isles. Originally, people used to hunt wrens on this day and display them on a pole that has been lavishly decorated. Now, a fake wren is used to keep with the tradition, rather than hunting a real one.
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BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Troglodytes troglodytes. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/06/2022.

Morrison, C.A., Robinson, R.A., Pearce-Higgins, J.W. (2016) Winter wren populations show adaptation to local climate. Royal Society Open Science. 3: 160250. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.160250

Pavisse, R., Vangeluwe, D., Clergeau, P. (2019) Domestic Cat predation on garden birds: an analysis from European ringing programmes. Ardea. 107:103–109. doi:10.5253/arde.v107i1.a6

Robinson, R.A. (2005) BirdFacts: profiles of birds occurring in Britain & Ireland. BTO, Thetford (http://www.bto.org/birdfacts, accessed on 28 March 2022)

Stanbury, A.J., Eaton, M.A., Aebischer, N.J., Balmer, D., Brown, A.F., Douse, A., Lindley, P., McCulloch, N., Noble, D.G., Win, I. (2021) The status of our bird populations: the fifth Birds of Conservation Concern in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man and second IUCN Red List assessment of extinction risk for Great Britain. British Birds. 114

Van Horne, B., Bader, A. (1990) Diet of Nestling Winter Wrens in Relationship to Food Availability. The Condor. 92(2): 413-420.

Werness, H.B., Ramsay-Lozano, T., Benedict, J.H., Thomas, S. (2004) The Continuum Encyclopaedia of Animal Symbolism in Art. Continuum International Publishing


Wesolowski, T. (1983) The breeding ecology and behaviour of Wrens Troglodytes troglodytes under primaeval and secondary conditions. Ibis. 125: 499-515.

Wojton, A., Pitucha, G. (2020) Root Plates as Nesting Sites for Eurasian Wrens Troglodytes troglodytes in a Forest Undergoing Renaturalisation. Acta Ornithologica. 55(1): 53-58.

Woodward, I., Aebischer, N., Burnell,D., Eaton, M., Frost, T., Hall, C., Stroud, D. & Noble, D. (2020) Population estimates of birds in Great Britain and the United Kingdom. British Birds. 113: 69–104.

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