About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cleaning & Placement of Wren Bird Houses

I left my birdhouse up with the old nest from last year. I will be upset if I don't get a wren this year. Do they not use old nests? What should I do?
Thanks. ~ Ellen

Actually, the presence of an old House Wren nest may encourage the wrens to re-nest in the same spot. A male House Wren may lay claim to a nesting cavity by filling it with more than 400 small twigs. If the female likes what she sees, she will then take over, adding the nest cup and lining it with grass, inner bark, hair, and feathers. Wrens will usually lay 2 broods in the nesting season from May to July.

The male House Wren builds several starter nests and the female is the one that chooses which she prefers. The other nests may be used by the male to raise a second brood with another female or remain in place to discourage other male wrens from nesting in the same territory.

So what should you do? If you don’t see any wren activity, I would clean out the nest but leave a few starter twigs. Hopefully this will encourage a bright young male to start building.

Thanks for your reply. It was the middle of June last year when the Wrens came. I decided to clean out the nest as I have not seen any activity. I leave the birdhouse up all year round; it's hanging under my front porch. I still have the old nest twigs, so I'll put a few inside of it. Should I push the twigs inside or leave them sticking out? Here is a photo of last year's bird.

I got a few inexpensive bird houses at a crafts store; one is in the shape of a bird with a larger opening, about 1 3/4 inches wide. Is there any special place to hang them?

When you clean the house leave a couple sticks poking out the door. House wrens prefer their houses hanging from a small tree in the middle of a yard, or along the border of an open yard. They often choose houses closer to ground (5-10 feet) in open woodland close to twiggy bushes to give them cover and nesting material.

Birdhouses can be stationary or left swinging. The entrance hole should be 1 ¼ inch in diameter to keep out House Sparrows. If you purchased a house with a larger hole or it has been expanded by squirrels or other birds, we have metal portal protectors. Wild Birds Unlimited’s round 1-1/8" and 1-1/4" metal portals are suitable for the chickadee and wren houses and prevent sparrows from entering the house. Also avoid perches because wrens don't use them and they could be used to help predators gain access to the nest.

Thanks for the photo. I hope you have success.