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House Wren, Sandra Cote
Photo © Sandra Cote

Photo: Sandra Cote
Breeding evidence - House Wren
Breeding evidence
Relative abundance - House Wren
Relative abundance
Probability of observation - House Wren
Probability of observation

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House Wren
Troglodytes aedon
Landscape associations:

Click on plot to view table of mean abundance
Conserv. status:
SRANK: Abundant Breeder (S5B)
Number of squares
ConfirmedProbablePossiblePoint counts
231 209 626 2674
Long-term BBS trends
RegionYearsTrend (conf. interv.) Reliab.
Manitoba1970 - 2015 -1.16 (-1.67 - -0.648)High
Canada1970 - 2015 0.247 (-0.184 - 0.655)High

Mean abundance (number of birds detected per 5 min. point count) and percentage of squares occupied by region

Bird Conservation Regions [abund. plot] [%squares plot]
Arctic Plains and MountainsBoreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Softwood Shield
0.00% 0.1161% 0.071%
Boreal Taiga PlainsPrairie PotholesTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains
0.1936% 0.2492% 0.00%

Characteristics and Range The abrupt mid-May arrival of House Wrens, with their bubbling song, brings added life to gardens, farmyards, and aspen woods in southern Manitoba. This is by far the most familiar wren in Manitoba, because of its frequent close association with people. The House Wren breeds across the conterminous U.S.A., except the coastal plain of the Deep South, and across Canada from southern British Columbia to western New Brunswick. Analysis of BBS data reveals highest abundance in an arc from central Alberta through southern Manitoba to Nebraska, and eastward to the southern Great Lakes. There is minimal overlap with the winter range, which extends across the southern U.S.A. and Mexico, with resident populations in most of Central and South America.

Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat Atlas records extend throughout the Prairie Potholes and southern portions of the Boreal Taiga Plains, and locally eastward into the Boreal Hardwood Transition; however, the House Wren rarely penetrates far into the boreal forest. Occurrence at the fringe of the main breeding range is mostly associated with human communities, including seasonal cottage areas.Point-count data revealed the highest abundance in extreme southwestern Manitoba, with somewhat lower numbers in a broad band around Lake Manitoba and southeastward to the Red River valley. House Wrens normally raise two broods in Manitoba (Zach 1982), and the extended nesting season probably enhances overall detection.

As the species name indicates, the House Wren has adapted well to low-density human habitation, whether occupied or abandoned, often nesting in and around buildings even when nest boxes are not provided, so that breeding is relatively easy to confirm. The species is not exclusively associated with humans, however, and many House Wrens occupy natural cavities in open or patchy deciduous woodland.

Trends, Conservation, and Recommendations Analysis of long-term BBS data shows a complex patchwork of increasing and decreasing trends across North America; the trend in Manitoba is persistently downward, with a reduction by more than one-third since 1970. Reasons are unclear, but likely factors include the gradual disappearance of small farmyards and associated outbuildings, shelterbelts, woodlots and shrubby habitat, as well as aggressive insect-control methods in both residential and agricultural areas. The House Wren benefits from the provision of nest boxes, the popularity of which is an effective "grass roots" conservation measure. This could be enhanced by increased awareness of suitable design and location of nest boxes.

Peter Taylor

Recommended citation: Taylor, P. 2018. House Wren in Artuso, C., A. R. Couturier, K. D. De Smet, R. F. Koes, D. Lepage, J. McCracken, R. D. Mooi, and P. Taylor (eds.). The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Manitoba, 2010-2014. Bird Studies Canada. Winnipeg, Manitoba [21 Apr 2024]

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