House Wren

(Troglodytes aedon)

Attracting the House Wren

It can be as easy as adding a wren house specifically built for them.

Their nesting and feeding habits are easily observed, as these birds tend to be somewhat tolerant of humans.

Relentlessly searching for insects during the nesting phase, this wren can be an asset to the backyard gardener.

Beware, as they have a tendency to take over a garden.

House wren


Unlike many others, these birds do not have brightly colored feathers.

Measuring 5 inches long with a plump body and a short tail.

The upperparts are unstreaked and grayish brown while the underparts are grayish white.

This bird has no prominent field marks.

If you spend any time at all watching these birds, you'll easily know the extent of its territory.

The male usually has three prominent perches from which he defends his territory of 1/2 - 3/4 acres.


In spring, the male wren arrives and begins to establish his territory. You'll know he has arrived when you begin hearing him sing from his perches.

As you watch, you'll notice he begins placing sticks into prospective nest holes. He may build as many as twelve different nesting sites.

He may put more than 400 sticks into one cavity.

After pairing with a mate, the male takes the female to each of the nesting sites he has begun building.

The female selects the one she likes and begins to rebuild by adding soft materials to the nest before laying eggs.

House wrens are cavity nesters and as such, are an ideal candidate for attracting to birdhouses. In fact, these birds seem to prefer man-made nest boxes to natural cavities.

Male House Wrens returning to the North to breed in their first year are more likely to settle close to an established male than farther from it.

Experienced males tend to settle farther apart. Young males may take clues from more experienced males about what areas are good nesting sites.

The House Wren has one of the largest ranges of any songbird in the New World. It breeds from Canada, through the West Indies, through Central America, southward to the southernmost point of South America.

Some of the subspecies living south of the United States have been considered as separate species.


The nesting site can be located anywhere from 4-30 ft. above ground. After choosing and rebuilding the nest, the female will lay 5-6 eggs that are white with brown marks.

Incubation time last 12-15 days and the young will leave the nest in 16-17 days.

For their size, these birds can be very aggressive, often piercing other cavity nesting birds eggs. The male will bring food to the female while she incubates the eggs.

Rarely bothered by general human presence, if you get to close to the nest, you stand a good chance at being scolded.

Some say the scolding sounds a bit like a snake hissing.


The House wren diet consists almost entirely of insects, especially when feeding hungry youngsters.

Plant several trees and shrubs and welcome this little bird to your yard and gardens

By placing several houses around your property, you are almost assured of have wrens and possibly a chickadee nest among your trees and shrubs.

Even if you have a small yard you can place more than one house, consider one in the front yard and one in the back yard

Wrens will generally attempt to raise two broods a season even in northern states like Michigan.

With this much wren activity going on in your yard, think of all the insects they are consuming.

Even with the risk of destroying other birds eggs, the benefits of have House wrens out weigh the bad.

The House wren and other common birds

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