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.

      • 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.


    • 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?

  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. 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.

  16. 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!

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