house wren - house wren nesting habits

House Wren Nesting Habits

Probably one of the most vocal birds this time of year is the House Wren.  From sun up to sun down I can hear this little, plain brown wren (4.3 to 5 inches) calling repeatedly.  It is loud enough that I can hear it through my closed windows with the air conditioning running too.  This is not a complaint mind you but an observation as I always enjoy hearing this bird sing.  Listen HERE.

You see male House Wrens generally only sing during breeding season and since it is July they are probably working on their second brood by now (they breed from March to July).   I can tell because I have two nesting boxes in my yard that have sticks sticking out of the holes.  House Wren nesting habits starts with sticks placed by the male in a couple of nesting cavities which can be in anything from a nest box to an old boot for this bird.  In fact this wren will use planters, boxes, flower pots, wreaths, drain pipes, and even your store bought decorative birdhouse that you have placed somewhere on your patio for their nest.  You see they adapt very well to being around humans.

The interesting thing is that the male will set up a number of nesting locations in any of these things so that when he mates with a female he can take her to each one of these dummy nests.  Then she chooses the best one for laying her eggs which can be up to 7.


house wren - house wren nesting habits



Where Are House Wrens?

House Wrens are one of the most common backyard birds that breed throughout most of Canada and down to South America and the West Indies. They like open meadows, gardens, hedges, orchards, open forests, groves, woods, parks, you name it.  Then come about October it will migrate to the southern most states and into Mexico.

House Wrens tend to be secretive.  When I spot them they are usually hopping around among my garden or low near bushes.  The only time that I spot them in a tree is when I hear them singing and I follow the sound.



  • The female will lay an egg a day until she lays up to six or seven eggs.
  • The nesting site is usually found lower to the ground.
  • The nest is made up of sticks, grass, plant materials, weeds, and feathers.
  • House Wrens are known to also add spider egg sacs to their nesting materials.  This is to help control mites that may take over the nesting area.
  • Incubation takes twelve to fifteen days and during this time the female will leave the nest from time to time to feed.
  • The young leave the nest about twelve to eighteen days after they hatch.
  • House Wrens have two broods per year.
  • They feed mainly on insects such as beetles, caterpillars, flies, grasshoppers, moths, crickets, and also eats spiders.
  • While House Wrens are tiny and cute little birds, they are far from being nice when it comes to other bird nests.  They will invade other nests such as chickadees and sparrows piercing their eggs or dragging their young out of the nest if they are within or near their breeding area.
  • Both the male and female look alike.
  • Hawks and owls are predators of the House Wren adult.  Raccoons, cats, oppossom, rats, and snakes will eat their eggs and their young chicks.
  • A House Wren can live up to nine years in the wild.





To Conclude

House Wrens are those cute little brown birds that you see hopping around your shrubs or garden.  They are very vocal during their breeding season which is from March to July.  You will hear the males singing all day long during this time which is for attracting a mate and also for guarding their nest.  Rarely do you hear them singing once breeding season is over.

This wren is a common backyard bird throughout the United States and Canada during the spring and summer so you probably have a pairbird house - house wren nesting habits or two in your own garden. If they are nesting in your yard they are probably in a nesting box, in your beautiful planter on your patio, or maybe even in an old boot as House Wrens have no preference.

That is why I like this bird so much.  They are very adaptable to using things around your yard for their nest.  You never know when you will come upon one of their nests and if you do it is always a  pleasant surprise.  Plus, hearing them wherever I go be it in my backyard, at the nearby park, or just strolling around the neighborhood is always a treat.

How about you?  Do you like House Wrens as much as I do?  Where have you found a House Wren Nest in your garden?  I would love to hear about it.  Please feel free to make your comments below.


Happy Birding!






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  1. This is my second year enjoying house wrens, so precious to watch… first year.i my hanging basket…this year in a most covered. Bird house…very busy and quite vocal!!!thanks for the info…. Marilyn in Cincinnati,O

  2. I have 5 nest boxes in my garden and this season a wren pair have decided on one (I think). However, before settling in their current box, the male made nests in 3 different boxes. It was interesting for me to learn that he does this to provide choices for his prospective mate. I am curious whether the rejected nests will preclude any other birds from utilizing a particular nest box which contains a pre-constructed nest?

    • Martha, some birds will build on top of old nests and house wrens actually clean out nesting boxes in between clutches. So you should be OK. We clean out nest boxes at the end of the nesting season in the fall or in early spring prior to nesting season again. I have had the same nesting box used by Carolina Wrens first then house wrens in the same season. I hope this helps. Thanks for your comments.

  3. We are sitting watching the wren in our nest house. They are very busy and it appears the babies fly in and out continually. They always appear to have something in their mouths and come our immediately. Can you shed light on this behaviour?.

    • Linda, once the babies fledge they usually do not return to the nest house. Are you sure it is the young and not the parents going in and out of the box feeding them? Or the adults could be picking up the nestling poop and taking it out to keep the nest clean. I am not sure if this answers your question but if you have any other questions or thoughts let me know. I would be happy to help. Thanks for your comment.

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