Family Wrens (Troglodytidae)

Least Concern

Northern Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)


French: Troglodyte mignon German: Zaunkönig Spanish: Chochín paleártico

Motacilla Troglodytes


, 1758,



Until recently considered conspecific with T. hiemalis and T. pacificus; degree of differentiation from these taxa still in need of study and clarification, as the forms are seemingly undiagnosable except by song (although degree of vocal difference across full ranges of present species and T. pacificus has not been researched). Recent DNA work suggests that species as here constituted consists of four distinct clades, in Europe, Caucasus, Nepal and E Asia, respectively, which has been interpreted as cryptic speciation. Many races doubtfully valid, e.g. zagrossiensis sometimes subsumed within hyrcanus; proposed race †orii (Daito Is, in Japan) is included here in fumigatus. Twenty-nine subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. t. islandicus E. J. O. Hartert, 1907 – Iceland.
  • T. t. borealis J. C. H. Fischer, 1861 – Faroe Is.
  • T. t. zetlandicus E. J. O. Hartert, 1910 – Shetland Is.
  • T. t. fridariensis Williamson, 1951 – Fair I (S of Shetland Is).
  • T. t. hirtensis Seebohm, 1884 – St Kilda, in Outer Hebrides, off W Scotland.
  • T. t. hebridensis R. Meinertzhagen, 1924 – Outer Hebrides (except St Kilda).
  • T. t. indigenus Clancey, 1937 – Britain (except Shetland Is and Outer Hebrides) and Ireland.
  • T. t. troglodytes (Linnaeus, 1758) – much of mainland Europe, from Scandinavia E to Urals, S to Iberia, Italy and Greece.
  • T. t. kabylorum E. J. O. Hartert, 1910 – Balearic Is and N Africa (Morocco E to Tunisia), perhaps also S Spain.
  • T. t. koenigi Schiebel, 1910 – Corsica and Sardinia.
  • T. t. juniperi E. J. O. Hartert, 1922 – NE Libya (from about Tocra Pass E to Darnah).
  • T. t. cypriotes (Bate, 1903) – Cyprus and N Middle East (S to N Israel).
  • T. t. hyrcanus Zarudny & Loudon, 1905 – Crimea, Caucasus, N Turkey and N Iran.
  • T. t. zagrossiensis Zarudny & Loudon, 1908 – W Iran (Zagros Mts).
  • T. t. tianschanicus Sharpe, 1882 – mountains from Tien Shan (possibly from Altai) S to Pamir and NE Afghanistan.
  • T. t. subpallidus Zarudny & Loudon, 1905 – NE Iran E to S Uzbekistan and NW Afghanistan.
  • T. t. magrathi (C. H. T. Whitehead, 1907) – SE Afghanistan and adjacent W Pakistan.
  • T. t. neglectus W. E. Brooks, 1872 – W Himalayas (Gilgit E to W Nepal).
  • T. t. nipalensis Blyth, 1845 – C & E Himalayas (Nepal E to NE India and S Tibet).
  • T. t. idius (Richmond, 1907) – NC China (NE Qinghai and Gansu E to Hebei).
  • T. t. szetschuanus E. J. O. Hartert, 1910 – WC China (E Xizang, SE Qinghai, W Sichuan).
  • T. t. talifuensis (Sharpe, 1902) – S China (S Sichuan, N Yunnan) and NE Myanmar.
  • T. t. dauricus Dybowski & Taczanowski, 1884 – SE Siberia, NE China, Korea, and Tsushima I (SW Japan).
  • T. t. pallescens (Ridgway, 1883) – Kamchatka Peninsula and Commander Is.
  • T. t. kurilensis Stejneger, 1889 – N Kuril Is.
  • T. t. fumigatus Temminck, 1835 – S Kuril Is, Sakhalin, and Japan (including islands of Jeju and Iki).
  • T. t. mosukei Momiyama, 1923 – Izu Is, off SE Honshu (Japan).
  • T. t. ogawae E. J. O. Hartert, 1910 – Tanegashima and Yakushima islands, off S Kyushu (Japan).
  • T. t. taivanus E. J. O. Hartert, 1910 – Taiwan.
  • Descriptive notes

    9–10 cm; 6–12 g. Nominate race has pale buff supercilium, brown lores and ear-coverts, spotted off-white; crown dark brown, back warmer brown, rump more rufous-... read more


    Male has remarkable song, long and complex, a series of tinkling trills one after the other for... read more


    Very varied. In North America, breeds primarily in boreal moist coniferous forest with extensive... read more

    Food and feeding

    Bulk of food invertebrates; arthropods, including spiders (Araneae), beetles (Coleoptera), earwigs (Dermaptera), orthopterans, etc. Also... read more


    Egg-laying from late Mar or early Apr in W Europe, a week or more later in C Europe, early Apr to May in Cyprus, and second half May in... read more


    Resident, migratory and partially migratory. Movements nocturnal. In Britain and Ireland largely... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common or abundant over much of range. European population estimated at 20,500,000–26,500,000 pairs, of which at least 7,000,000 in UK. Some... read more

    Recommended citation

    Kroodsma, D., Brewer, D., Christie, D.A. & Bonan, A. (2018). Northern Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 March 2018).