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.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

House Wren didn't migrate this winter

We live in northern New Jersey. There is a house wren that comes into our basement at night and demands to be let outside every morning. This has happened for a couple of years now. He does not migrate. On November 8, 2013 he again made his appearance in our basement, and did again the following day. Would he migrate if he could not get inside? I am afraid he will freeze if left outside. Thank you.

While most House Wrens in North America migrate to the southern U.S. and Mexico for winter, it’s not unheard of to have some stay further north. They can withstand the cold temperatures as long as they have enough fuel to keep their engine running.

Keeping their body warm burns a lot of calories. Birds store the needed calories as fat, but they can only store enough for 16 to 24 hours. This is why you’ll see birds in a panic at your feeders right before it gets dark and at first light.

Having a known source of food is essential for providing wrens with the energy, stamina, and nutrition they need to survive. Wrens are primarily insect eaters, but suet, nuts, seed cylinders and mealworms are good substitutes for scarce insects during winter.

And don’t forget the water. Birds continue to need a source of water for drinking to maintain their metabolism during dry, cold weather. Clean feathers help birds stay warm, and a bird bath is often the only way for some birds to drink and keep their feathers in top condition when it’s cold.
I don’t have a House Wren but a lot of my customers attract Carolina Wrens in the mid-Michigan area by providing a brush pile, planting pine trees or thick bushes to provide birds cover and protection from the elements.

Instead of letting the bird in the basement you can also put up a wren house or roosting pocket for him to pop into at night or when the weather is bad. Roosting pockets are little shelters, much like birdhouses (but smaller and not meant to be used as a nesting site), where the birds can roost at night.

If you go to http://ebird.org/ you can submit your observation of a House Wren in November and check out how many other people have also had sightings. I went to ebird.org, clicked explore data and then went to range and point maps. I put in House Wren from Nov 2013 to Nov 2013. My results are at: http://goo.gl/ds1qLI. You can enter in your zip code to see a more focused report.

Related Articles:
- Do the same House Wrens nest in the same house every year? http://bit.ly/uDBbIb
- Quick Fun Facts on Wrens http://bit.ly/v5XVoU
- Hanging & Placement of Wren Bird Houses http://bit.ly/rBLsGQ
- The best suet for wild birds http://goo.gl/yY7bGt
- Roosting Pockets: Warm Shelter from Frosty Winds http://goo.gl/QOPbMw

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