Attracting Wrens

GoldfinchGuyMay 16, 2012

I am thinking about making a nestbox for house wrens out of an old coffee container. I hear they're great at insect control for gardens.

I've heard they tend to nest in unusual places. Has anyone here had them nest in your yard?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mine nest on the border of my deciduous woods next to a big opening of empty space. They also occupied my bluebird feeder the last few years. They're very friendly and allow me to get very close to them, and we chat. It's as if they have no fear of humans.

At night, I'll occasionally see them on the ground, under my feeder. One will watch while the its' mate eats and vice-versa, albeit a somewhat rare occurrence, and then they disappear.

Last summer I had a guy whom used to fly up to my deck and sing to me most mornings. All I can say is, lovely little, happy go lucky, birds.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 9:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Very nice, Dax.

I unfortunately don't live near woods, but am hoping to attract some. Neighbor has a bunch of bushes and shrubs all along the fence which borders my property, and I've read that wrens like to nest there. Will probably hang the house on my tree which is right along said fence.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 11:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I live in a Western Chicago suburb. I posted earlier this Spring about a pair of wrens fighting it out with a pair of house sparrows for possesion of my bird house. You can check on the list for that chain of posts. I was worried about the wrens so I took the house down, bought a new one made specifically for wrens/chickadees/blueburds. It has a small opening (1-1/8"). Now the house sparrows can't get into it and believe me I have watched them try. The wrens are busy going in and out of it like happy little things. They are fun to watch. I live in a neighborhod that has a lot of older trees, but you would by no means call it woods. I believe they are very easy to attract if you give them a nice comfy house. But, you have to be sure on that hole size and no perch on the front of it. And, I don't know about a coffee can. Although I don't see why it wouldn't work! Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 11:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I actually have a nestbox which was given to me by a neighbor that I have posted on a tree in my yard. The hole was too big, so I put a 1-1/8 portal over it, removed the perch, and drilled a few holes in the bottom for drainage. I did this with the hopes of deterring the house sparrows and attracting chickadees, but hopefully wrens find it. It has been up for just over a month now and no one has moved in yet, but I am hopeful.
Thinking I should maybe just buy a nice hanging wren house in addition to that to give them more choice.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 1:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I hope you all understand the HOUSE Wrens pierce eggs and toss baby Blues, Dees, TRES, and any other cavity nesting birds in their area. Also fill up good nesting sites with twigs (dummy nests)so others cant use them. The HOUSE Wren is the only Wren that does this , all other Wrens are wonderful to have and the Carolina Wrens are very good at finding odd places to nest, IE: a coffee can. I would not purposely host a House Wren but rather deter them from my area.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 1:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, House Wrens are cute but I don't welcome them (Carolina Wrens on the other hand are more than welcome).

I had Bluebirds nesting in a snag in the back yard for 2 years, until the snag fell over in October 2010. They had 4 successful brood and 2 unsuccessful. The last brood was destroyed by House wrens who went in and pierced the eggs and tossed them out. The Bluebirds left after that (although they come back regularly for suet nuggets).

Except for the way back section of the lot, I have since cleared out most of the brushy areas, which were mostly invasive plants anyway. This makes the yard much less attractive to House Wrens and more attractive to Bluebirds, however I was thinking about it but just didn't have time to put up a nest box this year.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 7:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, I live in the city so there are unfortunately no bluebirds around here, but lots of HOSPS. There are dees here, however, and I'd hate to see anything happen to them. I live in WI, and I don't think Carolina Wrens can be found here.

I think I'm going to stick with my original plan and just have the one nestbox I have on the tree. Hopefully dees find it suitable.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 9:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

So, as posted earlier I bought a new house with a small opening for the House Wrens. The House Wrens immediately started building a nest in it. Then yesterday I saw a House Sparrow at the opening. He apparently couldn't get in. But I haven't seen the Wrens back since then. Now I'm wondering if the House Sparrow might have done something or if it is a "dummy" nest as mentioned by lisa. Any ideas?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 3:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Goldfinchguy...a birdhouse on a tree really isn't a good idea as a raccoon can and will climb right up and reach in the hole and grab eggs/nestlings/incubating adult out at night and eat them. Houses should be mounted on slick metal poles with baffles and at least 15 feet away from any trees/fences or anything a predator can jump from. Good luck! Dees are cute little birds and very fun to watch!


    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 11:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks dzyg! I don't think there are raccoons here, but there are possums. Or at least there were before my overly friendly dog started frightening them away. Lots of my neighbors have nestboxes - mainly for HOSPS -, but they never get raided, and fledge successfully.

Instead of the coffee can birdhouse, I've decided to make a nice nestbox for dees. The plans can be found here:

Here is a link that might be useful: Nestbox

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 1:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

To lisa11310 :

Wrens are native birds and their nests and eggs cannot be removed.I don't see why any native animal should be eradicated, even though they pierce eggs.It's a part of nature! House sparrows and starlings are however a lot more vicious and are invasive.

I'd definitely check this post that shows another perspective on House wrens, and why you should let them nest :

and also, to Goldfinchguy :

Unless you are in the UK, house sparrows are invasive and thereby not protected by law.You should definitely get rid of them.Not only will they scare birds from your feeders,nestboxes, birdbaths..etc but if a bird does nest, they will destroy the eggs and nest, sometimes even killing the adults..

You should print this out/email this to your neighbors :

Here are some ways to prevent sparrows :

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 7:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dante, I definitely don't let them breed in my yard anymore, and have tried taking steps to stop them from coming in to my yard (stopped feeding cheap seed mixes a while ago, and removed a nestbox they were constantly using). My wife doesn't understand why I detest HOSPS so much even after I've tried explaining the damage they've done to native bird populations. I'm honestly considering dealing with them discretely with a slingshot or pellet gun.

The only nestbox I have in my yard now has a 1-1/8 portal over the entrance, so the sparrows cannot enter it. They've tried claiming it, however. For two weeks after I put it up after modifying it the males were constantly guarding and fighting over it. They've pretty much given up on it, so I hope its not too late for chickadees to move in.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 1:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It was raccoons that got the first failed Bluebird nest, because they were good sized nestlings and one morning they were gone. So something got them overnight. I then baffled the snag using sheet metal flashing, and that DOES work for all climbing critters, but that didn't stop the House Wrens who got the final nesting. I knew it was wrens because I found an eggshell on the ground that had a tiny hole in the shell, and the Wrens were flocking around the nest hole later in the day (poor Blues).

Dante, I can't speak for Lisa, but I don't "eradicate" House Wrens as they are native birds, just don't encourage them. They like brushy, shrubby areas (as do many birds, such as Cardinals and all Sparrows), and I've removed most of that. Also you can remove their sticks from a nestbox where they start to build a nest.

Goldfinch, when the Blues were nesting, I did do a little House Sparrow control. I had a nest box installed on the side of the house that had a Van Ert trap in it. There are not a lot of House Sparrows here, but that did remove a couple of males that were trying to nest in the yard and may have posed a threat to the Blues.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 11:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I know you can and should remove dummy nests, but I think people should stop making a big deal out of them actually nesting..The reason they puncture eggs..etc is because they don't have enough cavities/nestboxes..

Also, to Goldfinch guy, here are some tips to attract wrens :

-Get a suet feeder.Wrens don't eat seeds, but will visit suet feeders.Make sure to get a melt-proof suet, since it's spring..Apple or peanut butter suet are their favorites..Even if other birds eat it, the wrens will hear them and think "food"

-Make a brush pile.Prune some trees and pile up some branches and sticks.
You can also make a smaller pile of twigs for the nests, and a seperate pile of softing materials, like moss,grass,bark,yarn..etc for the female to use.

-Put the nestbox inside a bush, or near one.I wouldn't suggest putting a hole reducer..Birds like larger holes so that they can easily access the nest.Once they lay their first egg, you can put one up (by this time, they won't care and won't leave).

-Try playing house wrens calls and songs.Try these :

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 11:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

GoldfinchGuy...those look like a very good plans for a Chickadee house! Good luck and hope you get Dees nesting!!


    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 9:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No I do not kill House Wrens. I really don't have much trouble with them , only the one year when the neighboring property was cutting timber and they were displaced for the season. I have never had even a twig in any of my (well placed) boxes. However I would not let them nest here simply by pulling nests before eggs could be laid. I will tell you we have a long time member who has had many a baby Blue tossed, she has even rescued several and stood guard till they were old enough to survive. House Wrens take many more cavities than they need or use. DONT give them a happy comfey home!!!!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 9:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

They stuff other nesting boxes so nobody else can use it, greedy!

They're here for about a week or so,..I'll have to get some sticks out of some houses.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 12:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wrens make dummy nests, which are made out of only sticks.You can remove those..They only make one nest that they actually use..Just take out the dummy nests and you're okay.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 11:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Dante!

This morning I gathered up some sticks, twigs, ect in my yard and started a brush pile. Tried suet for a couple weeks now, and the sparrows are the only ones who eat it. They don't even contain milo seed.

Also, If I don't use hole reducers on the nestboxes that were here when I bought my house then they will surely be taken over by sparrows. The entrance holes are too big, and the population here is almost out of control. There is one person in this neighborhood who has about a dozen decorative birdhouses outside their house, and all are occupied by sparrows. I will probably just get rid of those boxes when I build my chickadee house.

If I can provide a box where at least one pair of native songbirds can nest without having to contend with the sparrows I will be happy.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 12:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you! I have tried over the years to make this point-that House wrens are only doing what comes naturally but have been met with much opposition from some folks. This year my boxes have been used by Bluebirds, Tree swallows, Carolina chickadees and-wait for it- Great Crested flycatchers! First time for the GC flycatchers. They are using a wood duck box by the creek & it even has a snakeskin hanging out. I'm so thrilled. As trees & shrubs mature & landscape changes different birds are around. So far this year I have not heard the beautiful bubbling song of House wrens. I, for one, miss it. My houses are on poles & baffled.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 12:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

To goldfinch guy :
We have a large purple martin house in our yard filled with sparrows..I have yet to take it down..

Sparrows nest early..You should put up boxes after March 1st (which is now past) to avoid them nesting.

There are some nice techniques here :
Like I posted earlier, warn your neighbors about sparrows and convince them to take down the nests..

Sparrows generally don't like suet, and I've seen cardinals,blue jays, and even robins eating in piece with the sparrows..The suet probably isn't worth defending for them..

Chickadees and titmice are often the first birds to visit feeders.In my area, according to Project Feederwatch, 98% of feeders have been visited by chickadees..Titmice also prefer to nest nearby (not to close, mostly if sparrows are in the area) to food..

Feel free to email me more : I may answer more later if you want to.My email is

To Organic Bassetlvr :
That's wonderful! I can only imagine having swallows,bluebirds or even chickadees!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 9:43PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Id this duck please
I apologize if I asked this one before. I took this...
Pileated friends
I just observed two woodpeckers go round and round...
Is old birdseed safe to use?
I'm in a quandary. We're iced in (Tennessee) and it...
taking over my suet feeders
The sparrows, grackles and starlings are taking over...
Birdhouse: Only for Decoration?
Hi there. I ordered this birdhouse and then did some...
Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™