Carolina Wren

Photo by Jean Chamberlain
Black Walnut Bottoms, Bethania, NC (Forsyth county)
December 6, 2020

February 27, 2021 Stout Farm Rd

Phonetic descriptions of songs:

Cherry cherry cherry
LIB-er-ty! LIB-erty! LIB-er-ty! LIB!
Tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle
CHE-wortle! CHE-wortle! CHE-wortle! CHE-wortle! CHE-wortle!
Choo-wee, choo-wee, choo-wee
Come-to-me, come-to-me, come-to-me
Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger
Chooble-dee, chooble-dee, chooble-dee (varied triplet phrases)

What is known about Carolina wren song?


• Songs learned from neighbors (Kroodsma, 2005)
• Share repertoires
• Matching countersing
• Ranging (Richards 1981b)
• Male sings to defend a year-round territory (with mate)


• 17 to 55 song types, averaging 32 songs (Morton, 1987a)
• Sing in bouts
• Dawn chorus, 5 song types/hour,  singing 8.5 songs/minute

• Inborn chatter (not learned), duet
• Pairs stay together throughout the year

How and when is song acquired?

•Subsong at about 14 days
•First adult phrases sung at about 40 days of age (Helgeson 1980)
•Young practice in fall
•Repertoires acquired before and after dispersal (Haggerty 1995)
•In captivity 70% learned during the first 3 months, some modification and additions up to 9 months
•One call note, cheer, is learned (Helgeson 1980)
•Isolated males do not learn to sing even with later exposure to song
•Male exposed only to other species of birds sang very abnormal songs including phrases from other species (Morton, 1987a)

What can we do to facilitate learning?

•Re-nest (difficult as cavity nester)
•House outdoors as soon as possible
•Release as soon as possible – long learning period


Haggerty, Thomas M. and Eugene S. Morton. 1995. Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:

Helgeson, N. (1980). Development of song in the Carolina Wren. Master’s Thesis, Univ. of Maryland, College Park. Not found

Kroodsma, Donald.2005. The Singing Life of Birds: 346-356.

Morton, E. S. (1987a). The effects of distance and isolation on song-type sharing in the Carolina Wren. Wilson Bulletin 99:601-610.

Richards, D. G. (1981b). Estimates of distance of singing conspecifics by the Carolina Wren. Auk 98:127-133.