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.

 

MORE HOUSE WREN FACTS

  • 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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72 Comments

  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.

      • I seem to see them leave a blade of grass in the hole of the bird house they are in. I noticed this on mine and at my friends house as well and that seems to be a strange occurrence for their nests overflowing that much but only having one single blade of grass sticking out. Is this something they just do? I’ve searched the internet but cannot find an answer.

        • Jack, yes, male House Wrens mark the nest to try to attract a female to it. They may have several nests marked too. Around my house, one wren has 3 bird houses marked and none are occupied right now. Hopefully the female will pick one so we can see babies. Good luck. Donna

      • Had an old occurrence- maybe you can clarify.
        Had about 4 or 5 wrens hanging out in last years nesting site for only one day – sort of like a family reunion. No eggs or babies there this year just a bunch of birds in the old nest for a day! What was that?

        • Steve, I have no idea. Unless they were checking it out to nest there. But 4 or 5 does not make sense. Where is the nest at? Maybe it was indeed a family just hanging around it.

  4. we have a wren nesting on our porch. I have 4 small watering cans sitting on a shelf. They have built in all 4 cans, but one can they have not only filled but it is over flowing and they still continue to bring nesting material to that particular can. I have never seem any behave this way. They always build there but not with this overflow business. What do you think is going on?

    • Kathy, was there another species of bird (like a chickadee) trying to use that can? House Wrens are known to invade other bird nests to use for their own. They will peck at the eggs to destroy them and clean it out for themselves. Not for sure but keep an eye out. Thanks for your comments.

  5. I believe I have a wren nest in my wreath on the front storm door
    The other day I saw 1 egg today there are 4
    Eggs so happy to have them at my home.
    However wont be able to open my main door for weeks LOL

    • I learned to hang my wreath next to my front door so Im no restricted nor mistakenly dusturb the birds. They have nested in the same wreath for 4 years lol

  6. I have a house wren who builds her nest on top of my outside lamp by my kitchen door. She has had 3 babies to fledge. Very messy by my back door. After the baby birds left the nest I took it down and cleaned off my light. She came back and started another nest and 3 times the same day I took it down. When I came out and she had started another nest I threw in the towel and let her nest. She is nesting proudly atop my light. haha.

  7. Love your information, but have a question. Have a bird house that the wrens have nested in for the past two years and very happy about it. They have not come back to the box after the first hatching this year. Do I need to clean out the old nesting material or leave it until fall? Have seen them in the yard, but not at the box. Loved to be able to watch all the activity when using the box.

    • Linda, wait until after the nesting season to clean out the old nesting material. Sometimes, they just choose to go elsewhere. I agree, it is fun to watch all the activity of nesting. Thanks for your comments.

  8. I have two wren nest boxes in my back yard . They are placed about five feet high on mature ash tree trunks . They are about fifteen feet apart . I placed them there last fall . I have had no interest from any wrens . I see and hear them in the yard ,so I know they are here . I painted them gray so they would blend in . What can I do to interest them ?Thanks

    • Harold, sometimes they just decide to nest elsewhere. I have one bird box that doesn’t always get used by the wrens/chickadees for whatever reason. This year we added 3 more boxes and have had great success. You just don’t know what they are going to do.

  9. I have a Wren using a birdhouse I put up and we now want to build a deck which would require the removal of the post which the birdhouse is mounted on. Its 6/26 and she has been using the nest for about a month and a half. My question is will they abandon the nest soon. I hate to tear it down but have to start construction by Aug 1? Thanks

    • Craig, it takes about 15 days for incubation and then about 15 more days until they fledge. Actually, they should be gone by now. Make sure there is still activity in there. Sometimes they end up leaving the nest without hatching eggs. Keep me posted. Thanks for your comment.

  10. PRUNING MY FLOWERS I CAME UPON A NEST AND A BIRD CAME FLYING OUT OF IT I WAS SO SURPRISED DO YOU THINK ITS MALE OR FEMALE OR COULD THERE BE EGGS IN NEST I CANT SEE INSIDE DUE TO ALL THE FOLIAGE

    • Diane, it could be either but probably a female. There is a good chance there are young. It’s funny I just watered my tree that has a bird house hanging on it, and the mama wren was sure to let me know that she is nearby. My husband saw her taking insects in for the babies but I thought maybe they already had fledged. So you just never know. Thanks for your comments.

  11. We have a birdhouse in the backyard that the wrens have used. After I have seen then in the house I also saw them filing up the hole to the house. Now it is completely filled in. Happened once before as well. Why would a bird completely close off the entrance to the birdhouse?

      • No the entrance hole to the birdhouse was completely filled in with sticks, mud etc. No bird, including the birds who did that, could get in. When, after a while we took out the blocked opening and there was no bird or nest inside the house. Just curious. Never saw that happen before. And it happened in our yard twice.

  12. I have a decorative tin birdhouse next to my back porch. The wrens have returned every year to that house. It has been there several years and the bottom is rusting out but the birds have stuffed it with so many sticks that they stay in the bird house. There is no way to clean the house out so I just leave it year to year. We are on our second brood this year. It is fun to watch the activity and to hear the male singing. They seem to like the spot.

  13. Wrens are our favorite bird. So much so, that we have named our home and yard “WrenHill”.
    My favorite thing about them, is that while the female is sitting on the eggs, the male will be on a near by branch, and sing to her all day. It is so sweet. He will also bring her food several times a day. When the babies leave the nest, sometimes a couple at at time, they look so funny, and can be quite clumsy, until they get the hang off taking off and landing. We love having them as neighbors.

  14. I enjoyed my nesting wrens for the first time this year. Great entertainment during Covid 19 lockdown. I bought a handmade birdhouse and decorated it to hang in my bird tree just for decoration. A week later wrens were putting sticks in it. This was late June. Now in August they just fledged. My granddaughter (4) and I watched from the window leaving the nest. One flew to the window unto screen looking at us. I felt it was saying goodbye, and flew off. I feel so sad now ?. I feel good that 2 new lives were added to the earth.

  15. I love wrens! I brought an old wren house from my dads house (we are selling the house) to my home. It is atop a stand (my dad made it) standing about 4’ high. He had wrens every year.
    It is stuffed with twigs. Should I remove them? It is March 17th here in Midwest Illinois. When will they start nesting? I want to clean up the outside of it quick before they start (if they start)

    • Debbie, they nest in the spring. It is usually best to clean the box out after nesting season so you might want to keep the twigs there. They do build on top of old nests so you might be good. Thanks for your post.

  16. A pair of wrens are building a nest in the fall wreath on my front door. I think they are paired since I have seen two birds visit at the same time. I thought they were a mated pair building together, but maybe it is just the male, and the female has merely dropped in for inspection before deciding if this nest suits her.
    I have never had a nest on the front door. I fear now that if they settle in, they will fly into my house when I open the door. My back door is not convenient as an alternate entry.

    • Brenda, then if there aren’t any eggs in there I would take the wreath off the door if you are worried about it. Trust me the wren will find another place to make a nest. Good luck.

  17. We’ve had Wrens in our mailbox for several years. The mailman follows our warning sign and puts mail in a flower pot we place nearby. The nest finally had 4 eggs by yesterday. Someone tried to go out the door and scared the bird who, for the first time I’d noticed in my lurking about the mailbox, was finally inside. She flew out into the door, banging hard. Then flew away. It is 23 degrees tonight and I’m worried her eggs will by spoiled, get too cold, if we scared her away from nesting. Do you think it is possible?

    • Jenn, more than likely the bird will return. It probably got stunned but should be OK. If it doesn’t then there is not a whole lot you can do with the eggs to save them. Hopefully everything is good. Good luck!

  18. I live in Florida. According to Audubon and Nestwatch, house wrens do not breed here. But I very clearly heard the song of a house wren outside my window this morning. Unfortunately, there is currently an active chickadee nest in a nestbox near the tree. I’m assuming this means that my chickadee nestlings are in danger of being tossed out of the box. Do you know for sure that house wrens breed in Florida? My hope is that they will migrate north before they breed and will therefore not engage in their typical nest box competition and breeding aggression while here.

    • Elle, you probably did hear a house wren as they may still be hanging around in Florida. Most leave by May. I still have a red-breasted nuthatch at my feeders here in Kentucky. They are usually gone by now. So I get to enjoy them just a little longer until they leave to go back up north. The weather usually tells them when it’s time. I hope this helps. Thanks for posting.

  19. I made a wreath for my front door and only had it out 3 days before a house wren built a nest in it. Then she started to lay eggs. Each day there was a new egg till there were 6. And now there are 6 Lil babies. ✨🥰

  20. We have a nest on our front porch underneath a shelf that I have. They are quite clever building there because they can fit inside but no larger animals can get to it. My question is I had lifted the shelf to see the nest and to my surprise there were two eggs in it, this was last week. Can I peek again or will it cause any harm to the eggs? We are in CA so weather is not a factor. They are in a warm place and very protected. The birds chase our squirrels away by batting them in the head with the exception of our one pregnant squirrel. When she comes to visit the birds let her be? I am curious if it is a hormone issue and the birds are respectful to her being pregnant too? It’s interesting to watch them all interact. Thanks for your info I find it fascinating.

    • Jill, I would leave the nest alone. You may disturb it without even know it. Just keep an eye on the area if you want. I’m not sure about the squirrel, but who knows? Nature is something else? Keep me posted. Thanks for posting.

  21. I have four baby wrens in a nest on my back porch. The nest is about three feet off the ground and the babies keep jumping out onto the ground but they can’t fly yet and they can’t get back in the nest. We picked them up and put them back in the nest. The mother bird keeps feeding them. Should I just leave them on the ground or keep putting them back in the next? I’m afraid our neighbor’s cat will get them.

    • Karen, are they fledglings, meaning do they have their feathers? If that is the case then leave them alone. Fledglings leave the nest and do not usually return. Their parents are close by keeping an eye on them. No they cannot fly yet but will be soon enough. If it is a hatchling, meaning they look like they were just hatched and do not have their eyes open yet then yes, put them back in the nest. I hope this helps. It is so fun to watch baby birds in the yard. Just remember, it may look like they are on their own, but the mama is close by keeping an eye out for danger. :-).

  22. Hi! I put a trail camera up by my birdhouse when I saw twigs in it so that I could see what kind of birds were building a nest in it. I figured out that it was a house wren. I saw two birds go into the birdhouse, so I figured the male had a mate, but I checked the box and I only see sticks so far. I am wondering when the female will begin building the actual nest. Also, do you know when the female lays her first egg after the nest is completed? Thank you!

    • Lydia, the male starts more than one nest for the female to choose from. So I’m not sure if your birdhouse will be the nesting spot. I had three boxes with twigs in them that never even got used last year because of this. You will have to keep me posted on that. Once the nest is built the wren will lay one egg a day until about 5 or 6 eggs are laid. I hope this helps.

  23. Does the female begin to incubate the eggs after the 1st egg is laid or after all the eggs are laid?

  24. Jerry Popelka
    May 26, 2021

    Folgers coffee can (plastic) inside my shed holds a nest & very persistent pair as this shed is closed at night. She seems to have gotten used to me coming and going into shed and at times making lots of noise. Seems to like country music too……lol

    Prob is we’re getting ready to leave for vaca, so should I move can outside and if so, will parents find it and continue breeding process?

    Btw I won’t leave shed open at night because snakes here in central Florida might get in and eat eggs. Wrens don’t seem to mind being confined in there and sitting inside coffee can.

    Thanks for any advice you can offer.

    Jerry

    • Jerry, it sounds like maybe there are hatchlings? The noise part makes me think this. If you relocate the can maybe very close to the shed that may work. Or gradually move it a small distance from the original spot each day until you find a better place for it. I really do not know for sure. If there are no eggs yet, then I would just move it and hope that the wren will continue preparing it or lay eggs. Otherwise, may just find a new spot. I hope this helps. Good luck!

  25. Interesting that our gutsy parents built inside tipped Folgers coffee plastic container half filled with plastic zip ties. They ejected a few ties but seem happy to build on top of maybe 50 black zip ties and mom doesn’t mind being in nest all night with shed completely closed.

    I’d love to post a pic

    Am now adding more boxes outside….

  26. I have a large flower pot on my front porch in Sarasota, FL in which 4 precious babies were hatched and have fledged. I question whether I should remove the nest (actually the male built two nests but the female only used one of them) or just leave them in hopes it will again be occupied. Will watering my plants interfere and is it common for a new family to occupy the nest(s)?

    • Mary, it is fine to just leave the nest be. Sometimes wrens reuse a nest or build on top of it. That is as long as you do not mind the nest in the pot in the first place. If the birds nest again just make sure to water carefully, they should be ok. I hope that this answers your question. Good luck!

  27. We had a pair of wrens nesting in our garden and one day whilst sitting outside, a wren sat on a (very) nearby, low branch very close to us and vitually shouted at us. She kept it up for ages. I suddenly realised the cat was about so after putting her in the house the wren disappeared. Clever parent!

    • Olive, Oh yes the wrens and most birds will definitely let you know if you are intruding on their young. I forget sometimes and go near active nests and they sure do fuss. Enjoy the birds! Thanks for commenting!

  28. Hello, this year is the first time we’ve ever experienced a house wren and her nest, and we having been loving it. It is on top of our front porch light, which we never turn on. When she left the nest briefly, I discovered 4 eggs on May 28. I have no idea how long they were there before I saw them. But today (June 14) when she left the nest, I was curious, so took another photo. The 4 babies are snuggled together, completely still and silent. This doesn’t seem right to me. The mother still comes and goes. Do the babies stay that still while she’s out of the nest? I assumed newly hatched babies would chirp, or do something. I have a bad feeling. I could provide a photo if that would help. Thank you for any info you can provide.

    • Christie, I would just keep an eye out. They could be fine especially since the mother keeps coming back. I would think she would abandon it if there was a problem.

  29. We have a birdhouse, handmade by our grandchildren, hanging in our porch. A male house wren courted a female with his song and babies were hatched. We came outside a couple days ago and 3 newborn chicks (maybe a day or 2 old) were all on the ground underneath. We put them back in the house, thinking that a nearby house sparrow was to blame… we were happy when the wren adults continued to go in. Today I found one of the newborns again on the ground, so I put it back in the nest, and sat on the porch to “babysit”. I was shocked to see a male wren enter the house, look surprised to see the newborn, and promptly pull it out and drop it on the ground. I guess house wrens attack other house wrens nests? Now the male is again courting a female at the house!

    • Bonnie, I am not sure. Are the birds newly hatched or do they have some feathers on them. They may fledglings which is normal, and are being watched and taken care of by their parents who are nearby.

  30. June 24, 2021

    Hello Donna Rowe: Last year my wren parked himself in a tin of bolts on a ledge in my workshop. He’s come back this year to the same tin (but now it has springs in it!). To allow him ingress and egress I’ve removed the screen from the front door. To enter my shop I announce my intention and move around in there as quietly as I can, avoiding the back of the building where he/she are, no hammering, drilling . . . . Although I baulk at the inconvenience, at the same time I feel privileged this little bird has such confidence in me that it puts up the bother. I understand their nesting privileges are protected by a 1918 federal law. Is this still true?

    • John, most birds are protected under the Migratory Treaty Act as far as I know. It is great that you have allowed access for the wren to get to her nest. Wrens do like to build their nests in the most unexpected places. Enjoy them, they are so much fun to observe.

  31. We love our birds. This year is our first experience with them. We came home one day and we found a whole bunch of twigs in my wife’s clothes pin bag. We didn’t know what happened so I cleaned it out. Well guess what, it happened again. Now we know, my wife is letting them build their nest. We watch them from the window, it’s amazing. We sleep with our windows open and YEP, you can hear them early morning and all day. So guess what, I’m going to get several nesting boxes for them and let them build their homes and have their family. Question, will they come back to their old nest after they had their babies the next year?

    • Al, the wrens may or may not come back to the same nesting spot. However, more nesting boxes is always good as the wrens can pick and choose which one to use. More than likely you will get wrens. Good luck!

  32. Thank you for your site. My wife and I were wondering what kind of bird was making their nest in her clothes pin bag on the porch. The first time was a couple months ago and yesterday we noticed they were do it again. Yes I know, I cleaned it out twice and now I wish I didn’t. So now we are leaving them alone and hoping they lay their eggs and we get babies. We love watching birds, well especially me. I read a lot of the previous posts and I’m thinking about eather buying some bird feeders or I have several large plastic coffee containers and making some for them. Question, should I cut a large hole in the cover or cut it in half? Another note, too bad we can’t post pictures or videos. I took a bunch. Thanks Al Butler

    • Al, the coffee containers may work as the wrens do like to build their nests in cavities. I don’t think you need to cut them in half as they will probably like the extra space. :-). Thanks for your comments. Good luck to you and keep me posted.

  33. Hi! I must have 30 or more wrens flying around in my backyard. I am not feeding them,because we were told not to due to the disease that is killing songbirds. In all my years living here, I have never had this many staying and living in my yard. Is this normal?

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