I have 3 wooden houses on my fence about 5 feet apart. They will only use one of them. Are they too close to each other?
There is no exact distance apart they need to be placed. In general, a suburban back yard or garden is large enough for one or two families of wrens. The size of the territory for the male wren is about a 100-230 feet and two to three houses within that territory is acceptable.
House Wren will lay claim to all the nesting cavities in the spring by filling them with small twigs. When the female arrives, she inspects all the nesting areas and twig structures the male has worked on so hard. She chooses which site she likes best and takes 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.
If the male wren builds several starter nests for the female to choose from, the other nests may then 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 keep an eye out.
The best way to attract house wrens and chickadees to your houses is to place the boxes very close to a bush or small tree facing east. Wrens look for the shade and protection at the edge of woodlots where thick bushes provide nesting materials and food. Five feet from the ground is the average height to hang the house.
The House Wren’s bubbly song and habit for eating masses of bugs make it a very popular bird to many people. And House Wrens like people as well. The “house” in their name was given to them for their preference for nesting near peoples’ houses.
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