Troglodytes troglodytes (Linnaeus, 1758) WR WREN. 10660
Family: Passeriformes > Troglodytidae

Wren, Allan Drewitt

Small and chestnut brown with a short cocked tail, the Wren is one of our most widespread birds and can be found across Britain & Ireland.

The Wren is often heard before it is seen, giving its scolding 'tik-tik-tik-tik' alarm call or in full song which - for such a tiny bird - is remarkably loud! It is found in a wide variety of habitats, from rural farmland, woodland and uplands to cities, towns and gardens.

The Wren is the most numerous wild breeding bird in the UK, although its numbers can fluctuate, with declines after cold winters. Where it occupies far flung islands, the breeding populations have become so isolated that new subspecies have evolved; hirtensis on Fair Isle and hebridensis on St Kilda are larger and darker than their mainland cousins, and their songs differ slightly too.

Exploring the trends for Wren

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Wren population is changing.

trends explorer


Wren identification is usually straightforward.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Wren, provided by xeno-canto contributors.



Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses

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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



The Wren's current UK population estimate is the highest for any species and, on the latest figures, one in eight of our breeding birds is a Wren (APEP4). Abundance can vary sharply from year to year, however. Wren numbers in the UK were greatly depleted by the cold winter of 1962/63 (Marchant et al. 1990). Following a rapid recovery up to the mid 1970s, abundance fell again in response to a further series of cold winters, only to return to its previous high level. Following recent severe winters, numbers were somewhat depleted once more, especially in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but have now recovered. The BBS map of change in relative density between 1994-96 and 2007-09 indicates that there was a gradient of change over that period, from minor decrease in parts of southern England to strong increase in North Wales, northern England and mainland Scotland. There has been an increase across Europe since 1980 (PECBMS: PECBMS 2020a>).

Exploring the trends for Wren

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Wren population is changing.

trends explorer


The Wren is ubiquitous in Britain & Ireland, being present in at least 97% of squares throughout the year and absent only from some of the highest-altitude areas in Scotland. Densities are generally higher in Ireland than in Britain. Densities are also lower in upland areas.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2

Breeding Season Habitats

Relative frequency by habitat

Relative occurrence in different habitat types during the breeding season.

>Bar of similar size indicate the species is equally likely to be recorded in those habitats


Given its widespread nature, there is little scope for further range gains. Atlas data suggest a 4% range expansion overall since the 1981–84 Winter Atlas, most notably across northern Scotland; this probably reflects increasingly mild winters and improved coverage in these areas of low Wren density.

Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Wren is a common and easily detected species, especially in spring when singing and may be recorded on 60% of complete lists.

Weekly occurence of Wren from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Wren ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Wren, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Exploring the trends for Wren

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Wren population is changing.

trends explorer


View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report

Exploring the trends for Wren

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Wren population is changing.

trends explorer


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Dreathann-donn
Welsh: Dryw
Catalan: cargolet
Czech: strízlík obecný
Danish: Gærdesmutte
Dutch: Winterkoning
Estonian: käblik
Finnish: peukaloinen
French: Troglodyte mignon
German: Zaunkönig
Hungarian: ökörszem
Icelandic: Músarrindill
Irish: Dreoilín
Italian: Scricciolo
Latvian: paceplitis
Lithuanian: paprastoji karietaite
Norwegian: Gjerdesmett
Polish: strzyzyk (zwyczajny)
Portuguese: carriça
Slovak: oriešok obycajný
Slovenian: stržek
Spanish: Chochín paleártico
Swedish: gärdsmyg
Folkname: Stumpy Toddy, Sumpit, Our Lady's Hen


Interpretation and scientific publications about Wren from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

There is good evidence that mortality rates are severely affected by cold winter weather. Thus, a warming climate may have benefited this species, although there is only circumstantial evidence for this.

Further information on causes of change

There has been a reduction in the failure rate of nests at the egg stage, reflected in larger brood sizes and an increase in fledglings per breeding attempt, but the effects of productivity are overshadowed by the strong influence of winter weather on this species.

There is good evidence that annual numbers are influenced by mortality rates and that mortality may be very high in severe winters (Peach et al. 1995b, Morrison et al. 2016a). Wren survival rates were negatively correlated with the number of snow days in winter (Peach et al. 1995b) and with the number of frost days in winter (Morrison et al. 2016a). Robinson et al. (2007b) showed that survival is related to the strength of the North Atlantic Oscillation, an ocean-scale weather pattern that has a strong influence on UK weather. First-year survival was more influenced by weather than that of adult birds, although adult survival was also affected. Morrison et al. (2016a) found that northern UK populations were more resilient that southern populations, with a higher number of frost days required before population levels were affected. These observations suggest that a warming climate may benefit this species, and recent modelling also suggests that climate change may have had a positive impact on the long-term trend for this species (Pearce-Higgins & Crick 2019).

Information about conservation actions

There are currently no conservation concerns about the Wren, and in fact this species may benefit from climate change as this is likely to result in warmer winters leading to higher survival (see Causes of Change, above). Therefore, no specific conservation actions are currently required to benefit the Wren.


Peer-reviewed papers
Tree Sparrow, by Liz Cutting / BTO

Drivers of the changing abundance of European birds at two spatial scales

Study highlights significant losses of European birds

2023 | Gregory, R.D., Eaton, M.A., Burfield, I.J., Grice, P.V., Howard, C., Klvaňová, A., Noble, D., Šilarová, E., Staneva, A., Stephens, P.A., Willis, S.G., Woodward, I.D. & Burns, F.Proc. Roy. Soc. B

This piece of research explores the question of measuring and detecting biodiversity change for European birds, which are well monitored in many European countries thanks to ongoing monitoring prog

Peer-reviewed papers
Wren by John Harding

Winter wren populations show adaptation to local climate

Northern Wrens weather the winter better than southerners

2016 | Morrison, C.A., Robinson, R.A., & Pearce-Higgins, J.W.Royal Society of Open Science

BTO research reveals that one of our most widespread songbirds – the Wren – varies in its resilience to winter weather, depending on where in Britain it lives. Scottish Wrens are larger than those living in southern Britain, and are more resilient to hard winter frosts.

Links to more information from ConservationEvidence.com

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