For the Birds: Bewick’s Wren – Our local Bug-eater Extraordinaire

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Bewick's Wren with two spiders. Photo by Craig Kerns

By Christine Southwick
If you have a small boisterous ball of feathers flitting through your shrubs, stopping every so often to belt out lovely warbles, whistles, and trills, you probably have a resident Bewick’s Wren. 

If it repeatedly flicks its tail over its back, has a distinctive white eyebrow, and scolds you if you get too close, you definitely have a Bewick’s Wren!

Consider yourself well pleased. Your yard is being used by one of the best insect and spider exterminators.

Male Bewick's Wren singing his territorial songs.
Photo by Elaine Chuang

The males have the guard duty, and take it quite seriously, loudly protecting their territory with up to 22 different songs in their repertoire.

One example of a Beck's nest.
Photo by Christine Southwick
They also have the house-hunting gene, often making three or four starter nest-sites, with the female finishing her selected nest site. 

The nests start with a lot of twigs which the female tops with moss, feathers and hairs to make a soft and warm cup for her eggs. 

Nests are placed in cavities, ledges, and other hidden places. They don’t like high-traffic area, and don’t make nests out in the open.

Right now these early nesters are already chattering back and forth, and it won’t be long until the female is sitting on 3-6 eggs, while the male brings her food.

These mainly insect-eaters forage in shrubs, trees and the ground, and especially like brush piles and leaf-covered ground where they uncover their insect and spider meals. 

Bewick’s Wrens can be seen moving through local native plants such as dogwoods, elderberries, snowberries, salmonberries and blackberries, ocean spray, and rhododendrons to list a few.

They love willows, cherry trees, Indian Plum, serviceberries, viburnums and trees in general where they easily find their insect morsels and the males can watch their territory.

Bewick's Wren with large moth as babies get older.
Photo by Craig Kerns

Bewick’s Wrens are smaller than song sparrows, are acrobatic and can forage upside down when necessary. They like to eat suet and mealworms, but they usually won’t come to your seed feeders. They readily use nest boxes, and now is the time to put them up.

Since these birds eat the bugs in your garden, don’t poison them by using pesticides. Wrens and other birds will rid your yard of most bugs, and you can always use water to spray off remaining bugs.

Just a fun note: Birders in this area say if you can’t identify a bird song, since the males can sing so many songs, it is likely a Bewick’s Wren.


Janet Oh May 26, 2022 at 3:39 PM  

There was a fledging about a month ago, another fledging expected in a week, and I noticed another wren sitting on a new nest. He sure does get around. Now, whenever I hear his alert calls I step outside and help clear the area; chase a cat out of the yard, see a hawk leave, or scare away Bluejays. I am a part of the team now. I rarely get fussed at anymore.

Anonymous,  June 21, 2022 at 3:34 PM  

We have a nest in the top area of our patio and we've been able to watch mom & dad prep the nest, then feed & raise two clutches so far. Delightful, hard working little birds.
Sonoma County, California.

Anonymous,  June 24, 2022 at 11:17 AM  

I have a family living in my strawberry plant which is in a hanging basket on my porch. He is an amazing hunter. Crickets, spiders, moths...

Anonymous,  June 19, 2023 at 3:39 PM  

I have a pair of wrens who built their nest in a large flowerpot alongside my front door. They are very tolerant of me being out there to water my other plants. I had to put up a barricade in front of their flowerpot because a crow, and then a hawk (I believe it was a hawk), were trying to get to the babies….so far, the barricade has worked. Both parents are very busy bringing food to their little family. The babies are only five days old.

Anonymous,  August 12, 2023 at 9:22 AM  

We had the pleasure of watching two of our three wren houses grow little wrens this year, actually watched the fledglings leave their house. They all live beneath a bougainvillea bush now, learning insect gathering from mom. I presume mom because there's no singing just chirping and buzzing.
My que to lay out bits of peanuts. She comes very close within 5". If they don't see me come out I Whistle Playmate come out and play with me. Then Bewick's, titmice and nuthatches come by for peanuts. Love this passtime.

Anonymous,  October 19, 2023 at 7:46 AM  

My cat caught one of these cute little guys and brought it to my room, it was alive. So I rescued it and looked it over to be sure there were no injuries and I let her go. Such beautiful little birds

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