At a Glance

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.
Perching Birds, Wrentits
Low Concern
Forests and Woodlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets
California, Northwest

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

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


6-6 1/2" (15-17 cm). Long tail, stubby bill. Overall gray-brown to reddish brown, with staring pale eye, blurry stripes on chest. Very elusive, hard to see.
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Brown, Gray
Tail Shape
Long, Rounded

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.
Call Pattern
Call Type
Chirp/Chip, Trill


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.



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.


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

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.


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.


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.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Has declined in some areas with increasing development of coastal regions. Still fairly widespread and common.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Wrentit. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Wrentit

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.