Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris)

Marsh Wren

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Troglodytidae | [latin] Cistothorus palustris | [UK] Marsh Wren | [FR] Troglodyte des marais | [DE] Sumpf-Zaunkonig | [ES] Chivirin pantanero | [NL] Moeraswinterkoning


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Cistothorus palustris NA widespread, also Mexico
Thryomanes palustris
Cistothorus palustris aestuarinus
Cistothorus palustris browningi
Cistothorus palustris clarkae
Cistothorus palustris deserticola
Cistothorus palustris dissaeptus
Cistothorus palustris griseus
Cistothorus palustris iliacus
Cistothorus palustris laingi
Cistothorus palustris marianae
Cistothorus palustris paludicola
Cistothorus palustris palustris
Cistothorus palustris plesius
Cistothorus palustris pulverius
Cistothorus palustris tolucensis
Cistothorus palustris waynei

Physical charateristics

The conspicuous white stripes on the back and the white eyebrow stripe identify this marsh dweller.

Listen to the sound of Marsh Wren

[audio: Wren.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 13 cm wingspan max.: 17 cm
size min.: 10 cm size max.: 14 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 13 days fledging max.: 16 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


North America : widespread, also Mexico


Marshes (cattail, bulrush, or brackish).
Breeds in many fresh and brackish marsh situations, usually with a large area of cattails, bulrushes, or cordgrass; also in other kinds of low rank growth along shallow water. Winters in a wider variety of large and small marshes, including salt marshes
and brushy edges of ponds or irrigation ditches.


Male defends nesting territory by singing; western males have far more song types than those in the East. One male may have two or more mates. Adults often puncture eggs of other birds (including those of other Marsh Wrens).
Nest: Male builds several incomplete or “dummy” nests (up to 10 or more); female chooses one and adds lining, or may build a new one. Nest is anchored to standing cattails, bulrushes, or bushes in marsh, usually 1-
3′ above water, sometimes higher. Nest is oval mass with entrance on side, woven of wet grass, cattails, rushes, lined with fine grass, plant down, feathers.
Eggs: 4-5, sometimes 3-6, rarely more. Pale brown, spotted with dark brown; sometimes all white. Incubation is by female only, 13-16 days.
Young: Both parents feed young but female probably does more. Young leave nest about 12-16 days after hatching. 2 broods per year.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including beetles, flies, moths, caterpillars, ants, grasshoppers,
and many others. May include various aquatic insects and their larvae, including those of mosquitoes and damselflies. Also eats spiders and snails.
Behavior: Forages very actively in dense low growth, taking insects from the stems of marsh plants or from the ground. Often picks items from surface of water. Sometimes makes short flights to catch flying insects in midair.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Marsh Wren status Least Concern


Southern Canada to northwestern Mexico. Winters to central Mexico. Migration: Probably migrates at night. Migrants sometimes stop over in odd habitats, away from water.

Distribution map

Marsh Wren distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *