Pacific Wren Nests (formerly Winter Wren)

Like their unreasonably large and beautiful song, the Pacific wren (Troglodytes pacificus)  has a surprisingly elaborate nest. Abundant in forested landscapes around much of the Pacific Northwest, the Pacific wren typically constructs its nest out of mosses and builds it into an existing structure such as a rootwad of a fallen tree or the hanging moss on the underside of a tree branch or leaning trunk. Nests are spherical with a small entrance on the side giving access to an enclosed chamber where eggs are laid. Occasionally nest are constructed in tree branches and appear as a spherical glob of moss. My bird nest mentor, Emily Gibson, who first introduced me to Pacific wren nests, noted that the entrance to their nests, in western Washington at least, typically are lined with tiny conifer twigs.

Singing Pacific wren next to its nest A Pacific wren singing from a branch above its large spherical nest in a Sitka Spruce. Hoh river valley, Olympic National Park
A Pacific wren peers out from the entrance to its nest. A Pacific wren peers out from the entrance at the side of its nest. Olympic National Park.
Pacifi wren nest Note the slender conifer twigs around the entrance to the nest.
Pacific wren with insects in its bill. A Pacific wren with insects in its bill bound for young ones in a nearby nest. West slope Cascades, King County, Washington.

Similar Nests: Bushtits

Bushtits at their nest. Two bushtits at the entrance to their nest in the Snoqualmie Valley in western Washington. Bushtits (Psaltriparus minimus), a similar sized bird found in much of the Pacific Northwest as well, also build enclosed nests out of mosses and lichens. Bushtit nests are more pendulous with an entrance towards the top of the nest.

Check out more photos of interesting tracks and signs of wildlife!



  1. Keith Taylor

    Could I use your Pacific Wren picture as an example of a well-patterned Pacific?

    A Winter Wren’s two-note call was recorded on the Queen Charlotte Islands in November of 2015 with another sighting in the Okanagan of British Columbia in December of 2015 without details. Yet another wren species is being seen in Abbotsford east of Vancouver BC as of December 19-30, 2015 that has been photographed and appears more Pacific-like (except in one overexposed grayish image) that reacts to tapes of both species and is giving the two-note call but singing a Pacific’s song. A real conundrum to say the least. Have we confirmed hybridization?

  2. David Moskowitz

    Keith: Can’t say I know much about the hybridization of winter wrens and Pacific wrens, nor sorting them out in places where they might overlap. The first wren in the post was from the Olympic Peninsula in Washington and the second from the westside of the central Washington Cascades. Good luck with that!

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