Vancouver Avian Research Centre

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Species: Pacific Wren Troglodytes pacificus



The Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) has recently been split into three species, with T. pacificus (Pacific Wren) and T. hiemalis (Winter Wren) being the two North American species. Troglodytes is an Old World wren. A superb songster and more often heard than seen, this small, brown wren is found along the pacific coast of N. America from Alaska south to the mid California coast. It is also found in the interiors of B.C., Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho and Montana.


General: Tiny, short-tailed, and thin-billed wren. Length: 10 cm, weight: 9 g.

Adult Male: Overall dark brown plumage and short but well-defined supercilium (eye brow) is distinctive. Pale brown throat and heavily barred dark flanks, wings and tail.

Adult Female: Sexes similar.

Juvenile: Dark brown overall but dark barring is less conspicuous.

Similar Species: Pacific Wren is smaller and darker than House Wren.

Behavior: This tiny species usually keeps its tail cocked up and has a habit of almost continually bobbing its head. It creeps mouse like about woodpiles and brush heaps, edges of swamps, on conifer stumps and through ferns searching for insects. It is a curious bird and is easily ‘pished’ out of the undergrowth. It sings loudly from favorite perches.

Habitat: This species is unique among North American wrens in its association with old-growth forests. It uses old-growth structures (snags, downed logs, and large trees) for nesting, foraging and roosting. It can also be found in mixed deciduous-conifer forests.


The song of the Pacific Wren is a loud, rich, liquid and full song with rising and falling high-pitched notes in a fine silver thread of music lasting about seven seconds and containing 108-113 separate notes. It sings from a low perch or on the ground.

Pacific Wren nests, made of mosses, grasses and twigs and lined with hair and feathers are placed under roofs, in rock crevices, in stumps, stream banks, natural cavities and nest boxes. The number of eggs laid are from four to seven and are white with brown spots.

Clearcutting and some types of partial logging reduce habitat suitability and this species is one of a few clearly harmed by forest fragmentation in western North America.
Capture Rates

Preferring the forested areas of the perimeter of Colony Farm, Pacific Wren capture occurs minimally in April, June and July. Juvenile dispersal is reflected by peak capture rates (2010-2012; standardized as birds captured per 100 net hours) in September and October.

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