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marsh wren

marsh wren (Cistothorus palustris)
Photo © Alan Murphy Photography

Features and Behaviors

The marsh wren is about five inches long (tail tip to bill tip in preserved specimen). Males are larger than females. There is a white stripe over the eye and white stripes on the upper back. The feathers on the upper side of the body are generally red-brown.

Marsh wrens eat insects and their larvae. Spring migrants begin arriving in Illinois in April. Some of these birds nest in Illinois, mainly in the northern one-third of the state. The male builds several nests, but the female builds the nest into which she lays eggs. The nest is usually placed in cattails over water. There are four to six eggs per clutch, and more than one brood is produced per year. Fall migrants begin arriving in late August. This species overwinters from the southern United States to Central America.

Reasons for Concern

Destruction and degradation of wetlands, particularly marshes, result in habitat loss for this species.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Troglodytidae

Illinois Status: common, native