The Carolina wren is a small, energetic bird, five to six inches in length, frequenting human dwellings and gardens, as well as wild habitats.

Carolina Wren. Wikimedia Commons.

State bird. The Carolina wren (Thyrothorus ludovicianus) became South Carolina’s official state bird with the signing of an act by Governor Strom Thurmond on April 3, 1948. The act also made it a crime to kill a wren intentionally. It had been recognized unofficially as the state bird since early in the twentieth century, but in 1939 the General Assembly designated the mockingbird (Mimus polyglottus) instead. The 1948 act repealed the 1939 designation. The wren was deemed a better choice since it includes “Carolina” in its name, is a permanent resident in every part of South Carolina, and sings practically year-round.

The Carolina wren is a small, energetic bird, five to six inches in length, frequenting human dwellings and gardens, as well as wild habitats. The bird lives mainly in the eastern United States and in Central America. It has chestnut brown upper parts, cinnamon under parts, and a distinctive white stripe over the eye. Its scientific name means “reed-jumping [bird] of Louisiana.”

The wren eats mainly insects and spiders. Male and female wrens pair-bond year-round. Nests may be constructed in gardens and porches of houses. The female customarily lays four or five eggs, sometimes raising three broods in a season. The male is a good father and shares in caring for the young. The Carolina wren is not a migratory bird. Although it ranges as far north as southern New York, it is sensitive to cold weather and may perish in hard winters. The Carolina wren is beneficial to South Carolina agriculture on account of the great quantities of insects—including caterpillars—it consumes.

Haggerty, Thomas M., and Eugene S. Morton. “Carolina Wren.” In The Birds of North America, no. 188. Philadelphia: Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 1995.

Sprunt, Alexander, Jr., and E. Burnham Chamberlain. South Carolina Bird Life. Rev. ed. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1970.

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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Carolina wren
  • Author David C. R. Heisser
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • URL http://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/carolina-wren/
  • Access Date February 21, 2017
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • Original Published Date April 15, 2016
  • Date of Last Update October 26, 2016