Wrens are skilled at blending in with their environment and it can be tricky to spot them in the wild. This is partly due to their small size and colouring but also because they prefer to stay in dense vegetation. Although it is harder to catch a glimpse of them, their distinct chatter is easily recognizable. Wrens do not like to eat from bird feeders however, we will give you some tips how to attract them to your garden. What do wrens eat? Let’s find out! This article will talk about wrens found in the US and Eurasia.
The wren is one of the smallest songbirds, measuring a tiny 10cm. They have short, very thin legs supporting a ruffled, plump body. Wrens have distinct tails, holding them vertically when they sing.
Fun fact: A wren weighs the same as a British 2 pence coin or 3 x US cents!
Wren colouring is brown, with a pale brown or cream chest and darker speckling along the wing edges and tail. Most wrens have cream, brown or black beaks. Many wrens also have a cream or white line of feathers above their eyes, that have the appearance of eyebrows.
Their colouring makes them particularly hard to spot when they are in bushes or trees as they blend in with the bark and branches.
Wrens are not sexually dimorphic, so telling males and females apart is pretty tricky. Juvenile wrens also look similar, with a slightly redder plumage and streaked feathers around the head and neck.
So, what do wrens eat to support their tiny body and active lifestyle?
A Wren Diet
Wrens are insectivores, meaning their diet is mostly beetles, flies, caterpillars, worms and spiders. These tiny songbirds are ground feeders, so they spend a great deal of time on the ground in search of their food.
May people enjoy having wrens visit their gardens, but what do wrens eat from bird feeders? Well, wrens don’t like using hanging bird feeders, as they prefer hunting in grasses and bushes for their food.
You can tempt them with a few simple offerings. Unroasted and unsalted peanuts are a good option, either very finely crushed or blitzed in a food blender. If you have reptiles as pets and feed them mealworms, you can also soak a few to fatten them up and scatter them in your garden for hungry wrens.
If you have fruit or berry bushes in your garden, try leaving them unpruned. Messy bushes attract more insects, which is essentially a free buffet for wrens.
The best place to scatter food is along the edges of your garden, by thick foliage or under trees. Wrens do not like to be out in the open for long, as this makes them feel unsafe.
You can also set up a bird bath or small fountain. Wrens love moving water and tend to choose water fountains over still water. Keep your bird bath to the outer edges of your garden so the birds feel safe.
You have no doubt heard a wren even if you haven’t seen one. They have one of the most common songs among UK birds in particular. An unmistakable high pitched ‘peep-peep’ followed by a slightly faster chirp and then another ‘peep-peep’. People often say it is similar to a car alarm.
Also Read: What Do Blue Jays Eat?
Behaviour and Breeding
General behaviour for wrens is the same in males and females. The only difference between the two is males will sing more often than females.
Besides this, there are no distinct differences in behaviours between the sexes. Wrens will often feed in the same area as other wrens as they know there is plenty of food to eat. This may lead to small scuffles as male wrens are territorial.
Wrens have one of the sweetest courtship behaviours of any bird species, even though males will mate with several females. Male wrens will build as many as four nests in rock crevices, tree hollows or thick bushes to impress nearby females. The nests are dome or ball shaped with a small hole for easy access and to shelter chicks from harsh weather. Wrens use leaf litter, twigs and moss to build the structure and a female will then choose her favourite and line the nest with feathers.
She will lay between 3 and 7 tiny white eggs, speckled with brown spots. Only female wrens incubate the eggs, which takes approximately 10 days. Chicks are born almost completely featherless and with their eyes still closed. Both the male and female care for the chicks for a little over a month until they can fend for themselves.
Fun fact: the wren population can drop as much as 25% during a harsh winter, but they breed well and some females may raise two broods during one breeding season.
In the Americas, there are more than 80 different species of wren. Although the Eurasian wren is the only species found outside the US, there are an estimated 7 million breeding territories in the UK alone.
Wrens are found in a variety of different environments. They prefer areas with dense vegetation as this provides cover from predators. Woodlands are particular favourites of wrens, but they can also be found in meadows, farmland and marshes.
If there are hedges, long grasses or dense bushes you are likely to find wrens nearby.
They do not do well in cold or snowy climates, but wrens can be found in all areas of the UK, even in remote rocky areas. In the US, they are a common sight in suburban towns where homes have large gardens with lawns with lots of plant coverage.
Predators and Conservation
Wrens are small birds, so they are not much of a snack for larger predators to eat. The most common animals to hunt wrens are foxes, domestic cats, owls and opossums.
Since they breed so readily, wrens can support a high predator population without much impact on their own numbers.
There are no requirements for conservation of wren populations due to their breeding patterns and huge numbers. Wrens are found right across the UK and USA, living in various climates. They may die off in large numbers during cold winters, but when spring comes around there are big spikes in births.