People passionate about nature

Winter Wren

Above: Winter Wren, Photo supplied by Christian Artuso

How do I recognize it?

Winter Wren is one of Manitoba’s smallest birds, about the size of a kinglet. It is mostly dark brown above and somewhat paler below. It is rather round and usually has the tail cocked up at a jaunty angle.

Does it migrate?

Belying its name, Winter Wrens do indeed migrate. Being an invertebrate-eater, it would have a hard time surviving Manitoba winters. Most birds depart in October, occasionally lingering into November or even early December. There is one probable overwintering record at Delta. Birds return in April.

Where does it live?

Above: Winter Wren photo supplied by Christian Artuso

The species breeds in mixed or coniferous forest with a dense understory, as far north as the tree line. 

Where can I see it?

Above: Winter Wren photo supplied by Christian Artuso

Winter Wrens are most often seen during migration, as they scurry low to the ground along riverbanks, in parks and gardens. On the breeding grounds they are more difficult to see, but often betray their presence with their remarkably loud (for such a tiny bird) song, which may be given from a tree top. Nopiming, the Whiteshell and Riding Mountain are good places.

Conservation Status

Breeding Bird Survey data from 1966 to 2019 show that the Winter Wren population is fairly stable. Localized threats include logging and mining activities.

Did you know?

Above: Winter Wren photo supplied by Christian Artuso

In 2010 Winter Wren was split into three different species: Eurasian Wren, “our” Winter Wren and Pacific Wren. The latter’s range includes the Rockies and the West Coast, from Alaska to California, with a few more easterly outposts.

Written by Rudolf Koes.