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Montana Field Guides

House Wren - Troglodytes aedon

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Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5B

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:
FWP Conservation Tier: 3
PIF:


 

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Copyright by Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, all rights reserved.
 
General Description
The House Wren is one of the best known song birds in North America. It is moderately small: 11 to 13 cm long, 10 to 12 g. From a distance appears fairly uniform brownish gray, without obvious field marks. The northern House Wren: head, nape and back are near uniform shade of brown-darker and more rufescent in eastern populations, paler and grayer in western populations. Has only a pale, often indistinct superciliary line and no striping on crown. Throat and chest uniformly light gray, sometimes with buffy or brownish tings. Some black, dark brown and buffy barring on flanks (usually becoming indistinct forward of legs), tail, and wings and, in western individuals, on scapulars and back. Sexes identical in plumage. No seasonal changes in plumage (Johnson 1998).

Species Range
Montana Range

Click the legend blocks above to view individual ranges.

Western Hemisphere Range

 


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 8155

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

Breeding
(direct evidence "B")


Breeding
(indirect evidence "b")


No evidence of Breeding
(transient "t")


Overwintering
(regular observations "W")


Overwintering
(at least one obs. "w")



 

(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)



Migration
In the Bozeman area, normal migration periods are May 17 to 25 and August 20 to September 5.

Habitat
Has an affinity for open, shrubby woodlands, mimicked so well by small town and suburban backyards and city parks; has a preference for human-made "bird houses". Nests readily in small woodlots and at forest edges. In the East, known to occur primarily at or near edges of deciduous forests and in open woodlands. In western plains, found exclusively in wooded areas around water, or farmyards or residential areas with trees and shrubs. In western foothills and mountains, found in deciduous or mixed deciduous-coniferous woodlands in canyons or riparian areas, and at edges or in clear-cut or thinned areas of denser montane coniferous forests (Johnson 1998).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at bmaxell@mt.gov or (406) 444-3655.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2001.  The wild mammals of Montana.  Special Publication No. 12.  Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists.  278 p.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Feeds primarily on small, terrestrial invertebrates (Johnson 1998).

Reproductive Characteristics
Nests naturally in preformed tree cavities, especially old woodpecker holes, but readily uses nest boxes. Eggs are short, rounded ovate to oval in shape. Smooth and glossy; their ground color white to pinkish white to slightly grayish, marked lightly to quite extensively. Clutch size at most locations usually ranges from low of 4 to high of 7 or 8 (Johnson 1998). Near Fortine, egg dates are from May and June. Young in the nest were seen June 7 to 30, with young in second nests as late as August 20. Statewide, nests are from mid-May through July.

References
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View WorldCat Record   View Online Publication
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    • American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. 829 pp.
    • Bailey, A.M. and R.J. Niedrach. 1965. Birds of Colorado. Denver Museum of Natural History. 895 pp.
    • Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant landbirds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. U.S.D.A. For. Serv. N. Region Publ. R1-93-34. Missoula, Mont.
    • Dobkin, D.S. 1994. Conservation and management of neotropical migrant landbirds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. Univ. Idaho Press, Moscow, Idaho. 220 pp.
    • Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. 785 pp.
    • Hand, R.L. 1969. A distributional checklist of the birds of western Montana. Unpublished report. 55 pp.
    • Hejl, S.J., R.L. Hutto, C.R. Preston, and D.M. Finch. 1995. Effects of silvicultural treatments in the Rocky Mountains. In: T. E. Martin and D. M. Finch, eds. Ecology and Management of Neotropical Migratory Birds. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. pp.220-244.
    • Hutto, R. L. 1995. Composition of bird communities following stand-replacement fires in Northern Rocky Mountain (U.S.A.) conifer forests. Conservation Biology 9: 1041-1058.
    • Hutto, R. L. and J. S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-32. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and Rocky Mountain Research Station, Ogden, UT. 72 pp.
    • Johnsgard, P. A. 1992. Birds of the Rocky Mountains with particular reference to national parks in the northern Rocky Mountain region. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. xi + 504 pp.
    • Johnsgard, P.A. 1979. Birds of the Great Plains: breeding species and their distribution. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. 539 pp.
    • Johnson, L. Scott. 1998. House Wren (Troglodytes aedon). Species Account Number 380. The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; Retrieved 3/25/2008 from The Birds of North America Online database
    • Landusky Mining Inc., Zortman, MT. Assisted by Hydrometrics, Helena, MT., 1985, Operating Permit Application for an Extension of Landusky Mining Incorporated Operations, Phillips County, Montana. June 12, 1985
    • Lenard, S., J. Carlson, J. Ellis, C. Jones, and C. Tilly. 2003. P. D. Skaar's Montana Bird Distribution, 6th Edition. Montana Audubon: Helena, MT, 144 pp.
    • McClelland, B. R. 1977. Relationships between hole-nesting birds, forest snags and decay in western larch-Douglas fir forests of the northern Rocky Mountains. Ph.D. Thesis., Univ. of Montana, Missoula. 483 pp.
    • Montana Bird Distribution Committee. 2012. P.D. Skaar's Montana bird distribution. 7th Edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, Montana. 208 pp. + foldout map.
    • Raphael, M.G. 1980. Utilization of standing dead trees by breeding birds at Sagehen Creek, Calif. Ph.D Thesis, Univ. California, Berkeley. 195 pp.
    • Saab, V.A. and T.D. Rich. 1997. Large-scale conservation assessment for neotropical migratory land birds in the interior Columbia River Basin. T. M. Quigley, ed. USDA F.S., Pacific NW Research Station. Portland, OR. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-399. 56 pp.
    • Scott, V.E. and J.L. Oldemeyer. 1983. Cavity-nesting bird requirements and responses to snag cutting in ponderosa pine. Pages 19-23 in J. W. Davis, G. A. Goodwin, and R. A. Ockenfels (tech. coords.). USDA For. Serv. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-99.
    • Scott, V.E., J.E. Whelan, and P.L. Svoboda. 1980. Cavity nesting birds and forest management. Pages 311-324 in Management of Western Forests and Grasslands for Nongame birds. U.S. For. Serv. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-86.
    • Sedgwick, J.A. and F.L. Knopf. 1987. Breeding bird response to cattle grazing of a cottonwood bottomland. J. Wildl. Manage. 51(1): 230-237.
    • Stewart, R.E. 1975. Breeding birds of North Dakota. Tri-College Center for Environmental Studies, Fargo, North Dakota. 295 pp.
    • Tobalske, B.W., R.C. Shearer, and R.L. Hutto. 1991. Bird populations in logged and unlogged western larch/Douglas-fir forest in northwestern Montana. Res. Pap. INT-442. Ogden, UT: U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 12pp.
    • U.S. Forest Service. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Agricultural Handbook 688. 625 pages.
    • Western Energy Co., Colstrip, MT., 1982, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Report, 1982.
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Citation for data on this website:
House Wren — Troglodytes aedon.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://FieldGuide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=ABPBG09010
 
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