House Wren Habits

The House Wren is probably the most abundant of the Wren species. Attracting them to your yard can be as easy as adding a bird house.

Even if no bird house is offered these birds are likely to find somewhere or something to nest in around your home.

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

One of many nice things about Wrens is their tireless efforts at searching out insects. A very beneficial behavior for the backyard gardener.

House Wren in Shrub

House Wren

House Wren Call


Unlike many other birds, House Wrens do not have brightly colored feathers or markings. Measuring 5 inches long with a plump body and a short tail.

The upperparts are unstreaked and grayish brown, the underparts are grayish white. Notice the faint or missing eye stripe that is common in other wrens.

The females and juveniles look the same as the adult male although recent fledglings are noticeably smaller.

The song of the young isn't as sure sounding as the adult males either. For the most part, they have 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.

Mating Habits

Spring migrants begin to arrive in late March to Mid April with males beginning territorial claims by singing from perches.

Courtship and breeding begins when females arrive in a male territory.

Easily attracted to properly built Wren House, the male arrives first in early Spring and begins to establish his territory.

You'll know he has arrived when you begin hearing him sing from his perches.

This songster will sing from dusk to dawn. The singing is mostly done during the mating season.

As you watch, you'll notice the male begins placing sticks into prospective nest holes. He may place sticks in as many as twelve different nesting sites.

Male House Wren Singing to Attract a Mate

The male attempts to attract a female which he takes to each of his nest sites. The female chooses whether she will pair with him or not.

After pairing, the female selects the nest site and begins to fill the nest completely with more twigs.

Then she makes a small depression at the back of the cavity which she lines with pine needles and grass for egg laying. The whole nest building process takes about a week.

Interesting to note, spider egg sacs are part of the make up of nest building. In labs, these cocoons would hatch and feed on mites.

However, in field studies this did not occur.

House wrens are cavity nesters and as such are easily attracted to birdhouses. In fact, these birds seem to prefer man-made nest boxes to natural cavities.

Nesting Habits

The nesting site can be located anywhere from 4-30 feet above ground. Houses can be the mounted or hanging type, wrens will use either.

After choosing and rebuilding the nest, the female will lay one egg each day until a clutch of 5 or 6 eggs are laid. The eggs are white with brown marks.

House Wren incubation, (some miss call it gestation period), will last 12-15 days. During this time the female will leave the eggs from time to time to feed.

Sometimes it may look like the male is bringing food to the female, more likely though, he is anticipating (practicing) the feeding of the young.

Although occasional feedings to the female may occur.

After the eggs hatch both adults will feed the young in the nest.

The female will sleep with the chicks during this time and the male will sleep in another cavity.

When it gets close for the young to leave the nest you will notice the adults are around less frequently. Less feedings will encourage the young to leave the nest.

Do not worry, the young will leave the nest in 16-17 days and the adults who will continue feeding and training them for about two more weeks.

bluebird house with wren nest

Wrens Taken Over Bluebird House

For their size, House Wrens can be very aggressive, often piercing other cavity nesting birds eggs.

Thought should be given as to whether or not to place birdhouses for Wrens.

If you're trying to attract other cavity nesting birds such as Bluebirds, Purple Martins or Woodpeckers, you may not want to allow House Wrens to nest around your property.

Wrens will take over the nest of other birds by destroying eggs.

The House Wrens diet consist almost entirely of insects.

While not bothered by passive human activity it should be noted that if you get too close to the nest you stand a good chance at being scolded.

Wrens will attempt raising two broods a season. Second broods are raised at a different nest site. Cleaning of any bird house should be done between broods.

First cleaning should be done in late fall and the second cleaning should be done after the first nesting.

Second nesting are usually in Late June through July. The breeding seasons for House Wrens runs from March to July.

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When Autumn arrives, these tiny birds will begin heading southward and spend the winter in the southern states and into Mexico.

Build Your Own Wren Bird House

It doesn't take a lot to build your own house wren bird house. A few basic tools and a little time is all it takes.

The plan below is a very common example of a house but if you'll notice, the plan calls for a 1 by 6 by 4 inches when they mean a 1 by 6 by 4 feet not 4 inches.

Here it is.

building plans for wren house

Wren House Plan

The nice thing about this particular plan is that you can build two houses with one standard 8 foot board.

Wrens build in multiple houses before choosing the one they like so more may be better. Space them as far apart as possible. Front yard, backyard as an example.

Some of you may wish to purchase a house instead of building one yourself, here is our current recommended style of Wren bird house.

See Also:

Wren Houses For Backyard Nesting

Learn the Habits of the Carolina Wren

People Share Stories of Wrens Nesting Around Them

Watch Videos of House Wrens and Carolina Wrens

Perfect Gift Idea - Heated Bird Baths
heated bird bath pedestal
Heated Pedestal Baths

heated bird bath with dripper
Heated Ground Bath
heated bird bath deck mounted
Heated Deck Mounted

heated birdbath deck mounted
Scallaped Deck Mounted

pioneer woman magazine
good housekeeping magazine
womans day magazine


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