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What is the State Bird of South Carolina? (And Why?)

South Carolina is the 40th largest state and the 23rd most populous. It's famous for the Blue Ridge Mountains, Atlantic plain and Piedmont. The state animal for South Carolina is the Whitetail Deer, but what is the state bird?

The state of South Carolina chose the great Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) as the state bird in 1948. The small songbird replaced the mockingbird in the state of South Carolina as the state bird.

The state bird for South Carolina, the Carolina Wren

The state bird for South Carolina, the Carolina Wren

Why is the great Carolina Wren the state bird for South Carolina?

South Carolina named the mockingbird in 1939 as its state bird. It served the state well for nine years, but then the residents decided to replace the bird with a state avian that better represented the wildlife native to the state.

When did the great Carolina Wren become the state bird for South Carolina?

In 1948, the state of South Carolina officially named the great Carolina wren as its state bird. The same legislation rescinded the honor of the mockingbird.

Close up of a Carolina Wren

Close up of a Carolina Wren

What does the state bird of South Carolina look like?

The great Carolina wren features a brown tail and wing feathers with a cream colored body. Their beak matches their wings, as does the downy around their buttocks. Their heads are cream colored.

From head to tail, the great Carolina wren measures 4.7 to 5.5 inches. Its wingspan ranges from 11 inches. These little birds don’t weigh much – only 0.6 ounces to 0.8 ounces. Their coloring provides protection by letting them blend in with the forests in which they live.

Carolina Wren on bird feeder

Carolina Wren on bird feeder

How do these birds behave?

The great Carolina wrens choose a diversity of habitats. They favor fields, forests, and swamps. They will make a nest on a fence post, in tree holes, and in the eaves of a house or barn.

These birds get creative in where they put their nests. A great Carolina wren does not discriminate about where they build their nest as long as it provides a good location. They will choose a bag, a shoe, a box, a flower pot, etc. Any items that provide protection from the elements and predators.

Building their nest takes both halves of the happy couple. Each of them finds materials for building and they both contribute building labor. The nest, once completed on the outside, gets a little decorator finishing from the female bird, who is ready to breed. She makes the interior of the nest cozy before laying eggs.

Getting to the point of coupling takes a little while. The male of this bird loudly performs love songs to attract his mate. The female just sits back and listens without performing. Once he has wooed her appropriately, they mate for life.

They also frequently breed, explaining the sheer number of wrens in SC. The female bird lays up to three broods of eggs each year. Each brood contains about three to four eggs. After 14 to 16 days of incubation, the eggs hatch.

Hatchlings grow quickly and leave the nest initially after two weeks. While they strike out on their own, it takes another two weeks or so before they have the adulting thing down pat. During these two weeks, their parents continue to feed them. They visit the fledglings at the home they erect and drop off food. Rather than casseroles, these birds dine on insects, insect larvae, caterpillars, spiders, crickets, true bugs, grasshoppers, tree frogs, snails, millipedes, lizards, small fruits, berries, and seeds.

Carolina Wren perched on a tree stump

Carolina Wren perched on a tree stump

Do Carolina Wrens form communities?

Great Carolina wrens like their time alone. They forage and hunt on their own, preferring to only take their partner with them when they do errands. They will feed as a family – fledglings with mom and dad.

They do not flock. They rarely travel. These birds will fly short distances, but typically enjoy life near their nest, defending it from intruders. They mate for life and breed up to three times a year. They do love to sing and do so every day.

According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, between 1966 and 2015, the subspecies increased its numbers. Globally, a breeding population of about 14 million birds exists. Of those birds, 89 percent reside in the US and 10 percent reside in Mexico. A few fly to Canada. Despite this, the bird remains under the watchful eyes of the birding community. On the Continental Concern Score, the animal ranks a seven out of 20. It does not appear on the 2016 State of North America’s Birds’ Watch List. An icy winter can reduce populations, but that has not yet caused a population decrease.

Not all of the US birds live in South Carolina. The Carolina wren migrates out as far as Oklahoma, but not to its Panhandle region. It is essentially an eastern US bird.

A pair of Carolina Wrens on a bird feeder with seeds and dried fruits

A pair of Carolina Wrens on a bird feeder with seeds and dried fruits

What do great Carolina wrens eat?

These birds dine on insects, insect larvae, caterpillars, spiders, crickets, true bugs, grasshoppers, tree frogs, snails, millipedes, lizards, small fruits, berries, and seeds.

For more about what they eat, check out this article.

How to Attract Carolina Wrens to Your Yard

As standoffish as these wrens are, you can attract them to your yard. They prefer backyards and like feeding from suet-filled feeders, especially in winter. You can erect nest boxes filled with dry grasses. They prefer boxes with slots over those with holes. If you erect your nest box well before the breeding season and you attach a predator guard rail, you could attract a breeding pair to your yard. These birds also like brush piles, so creating one in your yard can help your case with the wrens. If you have a birdbath or pond, the birds will give you bonus points. They strive to find areas to settle in that provide them with food, water, shelter, and nesting spaces.

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