Marsh Wren – Song | Nest | Diet | Migration | Predators | Facts


The marsh wren (Cistothorus palustris) is a small North American songbird of the wren household. It is usually known as the long-billed marsh wren to tell apart it from the sedge wren, also referred to as the short-billed marsh wren. In this article, I am going to talk about Marsh Wren song, nest, vs Carolina wren, diet, predators, scientific name, migration, vs sedge wren.

Marsh Wren facts

The Marsh Wren is often not seen for long, because it pops up from dense emergent vegetation, solely to duck back out of sight moments later. Small and stocky, with the traditional wren tail held upright, the Marsh Wren is well recognized as a wren.

The upper parts are brown with a black patch streaked with white, and the tail is barred with black. In Washington populations, the shoulders are brown, unmottled, and far duller colored than these of Marsh Wrens in eastern North America.

The belly is gray-brown, lighter than above. The throat is light, and the white eye-line and brown crown are subject marks to notice.

The pugnacious Marsh Wren clings to wetland vegetation, tail cocked and legs splayed, usually with every foot wrapped around a unique stalk.

This rusty-brown wren has black-and-white streaks down its back and a white eyebrow. It sings a rapid-fire gurgling, trilling, and buzzy track from the depths of the marsh the place its secretive life unfolds.

Under the cover of reeds, males construct a number of nests and breed with more than one feminine. They additionally destroy eggs and nestlings of different Marsh Wrens and marsh-nesting birds.

Marsh Wren Description

Adults have brown upperparts with a light brown stomach and flanks and a white throat and breast. The back is black with white stripes. They have a darkish cap with a white line over the eyes and a brief skinny bill.

The male’s track is a loud gurgle used to declare possession of territory; western males have a more diversified repertoire.

This little bird is native to Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Their breeding habitat is marshes with tall vegetation comparable to cattails throughout North America. In the western United States, some birds are everlasting residents.

Other birds migrate to marshes and salt marshes within the southern United States and Mexico. their non-breeding range is within the southern United States going into Mexico and their breeding range is within the northeastern United States going into Canada.


Length: 3.9-5.5 in (10-14 cm)
Weight: 0.3-0.5 oz (9-14 g)
Wingspan: 5.9 in (15 cm)

Foraging and diet

These birds forage actively in vegetation near the water, often flying as much as catch bugs in flight. They primarily eat bugs, additionally spiders, and snails.

In California, 53 Western Marsh Wren stomachs have been examined which confirmed that the birds devour bugs (29%), caterpillars and chrysalids (17%), beetles (16%), ants and wasps (8%), spiders (5%), carabids and coccinellids (2%), with numerous different flies, grasshoppers, dragonflies, and unidentifiable insect stays making up over 11 p.c. Ants and wasps have been observed to be largely eaten within the fall.

Marsh Wren Habitat

Emergent vegetation is probably the most major factor of nesting habitat for Marsh Wrens.

They inhabit freshwater and saltwater marshes, roadside ditches, and small agricultural runoff websites, and can even nest in invasive crops comparable to purple loosestrife and reed canary grass.

In winter, they frequent a greater diversity of habitats, together with moist meadows and coastal dune grass.

In eastern Washington, early nests are sometimes inbuilt cattails, however, after mid-June, over 90% of the nests constructed are in a bulrush. (Bulrush grows in deeper water than cattails, and is more prone to be below water after the marsh has dried up across the shallower cattails.)

In western Washington, Marsh Wrens inhabit wetlands with each cattail and bulrush and have additionally been recognized to nest in emergent hardhack.

Marsh Wren

Marsh Wren Behavior

Marsh Wrens glean meals from the stems of dense marsh vegetation, from the bottom, or on the water’s floor.

They often forage out of view, hopping up for temporary moments when they are often seen by affected person observers. Like different wrens, female and male Marsh Wrens of all ages will destroy the eggs of their very own and different species.

Washington’s Marsh Wrens construct between 14 and 22 incomplete ‘dummy’ nests, which can assist with predator avoidance.

The dummy nests are additionally used all through the year for shelter, and dummy nests of resident birds are typically sturdier than dummy nests of migrants who don’t use them for winter shelter.

In reality, western Washington Marsh Wrens, which use their dummy nests for shelter within the winter, spend considerably more time constructing them than their eastern Washington counterparts who migrate and do not need the winter roosts.

Male Marsh Wrens have as many as 200 songs, which they sing virtually constantly through the breeding season. Their songs resemble the sound of a stitching machine.

Marsh Wren Nesting

The nest is an oval structure connected to marsh vegetation, entered from the facet. The male builds many unused nests in his territory.

A speculation of the doable motive to why males construct a number of “dummy” nests of their territory is that they’re courting areas and that the females assemble the “breeding nest”, the place she lays the eggs in.

He might puncture the eggs and fatally peck the nestlings of different birds nesting close by, together with his personal species (even his personal offspring) and red-winged blackbirds, yellow-headed blackbirds, and least bitterns.

The clutch is often 4 to 6 eggs, although the quantity can range from three to 10. The eggs are often 0.6-0.7 inches in size and 0.4-0.6 inches in width.

Incubation is carried out solely by females, and solely females develop a brood patch.[13] Marsh wren younger can get contaminated by pathogenic larvae.

The Blowfly larvae infect the younger by subdermal myiasis-induced lesions and subsequent sepsis. The larvae type a wound within the younger by rasping and increasing a gap of their pores and skin to create blood movement and feed on the blood of the hosts’ body.


This bird continues to be frequent with estimated international breeding inhabitants of 9.4 million.

That being mentioned, its numbers have declined with the lack of appropriate wetland habitat and wholesale draining of marshes will result in native extinction.

Still, this species is widespread sufficient to not qualify as threatened in response to the IUCN.

Marsh Wren Identification

Seeing a Marsh Wren in its usually impenetrable marsh habitat may be robust, however, these few suggestions would possibly assist. First, discover a marsh with an elevated boardwalk.

These present more of a bird’s-eye view of the cattails, permitting you to scan throughout more of the marsh and look down into it. Second, be there at the right time.

Marsh Wrens are more vocal at daybreak and nightfall, and within the spring males are more prone to come out of the marsh to sing from a taller cattail.

Third, have your hands in your binoculars to rapidly try any motion you notice within the reeds.


Migration is variable all through the range. Wintering grounds for migrating birds may be discovered all through the southwestern United States, in pockets of the southeast United States, and in Mexico. Eastern Washington populations are migratory, whereas west-side birds are resident.

Other Recommended Reading

Marsh Wren Facts

  1. The secret life of the Marsh Wren performs out below the duvet of reeds. Here, males routinely mate with 2 or more females and construct at the least 6 dummy nests for each feminine they mate with. One male built 22 nests on his territory.
  2. Marsh Wrens are tiny however fierce. They combat for assets and repeatedly pierce eggs and kill nestlings of Marsh Wrens and different birds.
  3. Eastern and western populations of the Marsh Wren present slight variations in the look, however massive variations in the track. In basic, western birds are paler and drabber and sing much less musical songs. The variations might imply that the 2 kinds are separate species.
  4. Marsh Wrens are boisterous songsters that sing not solely at daybreak and nightfall however generally all through the night time. Learn more about the Senegal parrot.

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