Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Wrentit

Chamaea fasciata

In the chaparral, the dense low brush that grows along the Pacific seaboard, Wrentits are often heard and seldom seen. Pairs of these long-tailed little birds move about actively in the depths of the thickets, rarely perching in the open or flying across small clearings. They are remarkably sedentary; a bird may spend its entire adult life in an area of just a couple of acres.
Conservation status Has declined in some areas with increasing development of coastal regions. Still fairly widespread and common.
Family Old World Warblers
Habitat Chaparral, brush, parks, garden shrubs. Within its range, the Wrentit inhabits most kinds of dense low growth. Most common in chaparral, thickets of poison oak, and coastal sage scrub; also lives in streamside thickets and in shrubby areas in suburbs and city parks. Extends very locally to edge of desert.
In the chaparral, the dense low brush that grows along the Pacific seaboard, Wrentits are often heard and seldom seen. Pairs of these long-tailed little birds move about actively in the depths of the thickets, rarely perching in the open or flying across small clearings. They are remarkably sedentary; a bird may spend its entire adult life in an area of just a couple of acres.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adult
  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Forages actively in dense low growth, gleaning insects from twigs, sometimes hanging upside down to examine foliage. Sometimes hovers briefly while taking an item. Will hold a large insect with one foot while breaking off the wings.


Eggs

4, sometimes 3-5. Pale greenish blue, unmarked. Incubation is by both parents, about 16 days. Female reportedly incubates at night, both sexes taking turns during the day. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest about 15-16 days after hatching, are tended by parents for another 2-3 weeks.


Young

Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest about 15-16 days after hatching, are tended by parents for another 2-3 weeks.

Diet

Mostly insects and berries. Feeds heavily on insects, especially in spring and summer, including ants, small wasps, caterpillars, beetles, scale insects, leafhoppers, and others, plus spiders. Eats many berries, especially in fall and winter, including those of poison oak. Will come to bird feeders for bread crumbs or other soft items, and takes sugar-water from hummingbird feeders.


Nesting

May mate for life. Pairs remain together on nesting territory at all seasons. Nest: Well hidden by foliage in a dense low shrub, usually 1-4' above the ground, rarely above 10' in small tree. Firmly lashed into place, attached to clusters of twigs or built in fork of branch. Nest (built by both sexes) is a neatly constructed, compact cup, typically made of strips of bark and spiderwebs, lined with fine plant fibers and sometimes animal hair. Outside of nest may be decorated with bits of lichen.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Permanent resident and very sedentary, seldom wandering away from breeding areas; rarely a few may wander to higher elevations in late summer.

Download Our Bird Guide App

Migration

Permanent resident and very sedentary, seldom wandering away from breeding areas; rarely a few may wander to higher elevations in late summer.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
An accelerating series of musical notes running together into a trill and dropping slightly in pitch toward the end: peep peep peep-pee-pee-peepeepepeprrrr. Call is a prolonged dry "growling" note. This species is far more often heard than seen.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

Explore Similar Birds