Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Dark Side of House Wrens

The House Wren is a small (only 4  3/4" in length) common songbird across the US and into parts of Canada and South America.  Talk about a singer....the male sings his head off when trying to attract a mate and advertising to others his chosen territory. Listen to their song Here .

The male will build what is called "dummy nests" out of twigs in any cavity he can find....nestboxes, rusty empty cans, mailboxes, the pockets of pants hanging on a clothes line, and of course natural cavities. When a female shows up they will visit the various dummy nests and once she approves of one she will rebuild and redecorate the nest. Sounds like a woman doesn't it? 

Recently, I woke-up and knew by the singing that this male had laid claim to my yard. 

I checked this unused bird houses and sure enough....he had been busy. 

After inserting a few more twigs the male left and I have to admit I am happy that he did. 

For all their good qualities such as eating bad insects and being entertaining singers....these birds have a Dark Side. They will peck holes in the eggs of other nesting songbirds, throw nestlings out of a nest, and kill adult nesting birds that are much larger then themselves. In some areas nesting  Bluebirds and Tree Swallows have taken a big hit from this small powerhouse of a bird. 

As an Eastern Bluebird landlord I really don't want this native bird nesting near my Blues. do you deter House Wrens without harming them? They are native birds and are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act .  I disabled my "decorative" bird houses. A few I moved indoors and enjoy them as art and others I plugged up the entrance hole. (It's not a good idea to allow any native bird to nest in a "decorative" bird house. They can fall apart at the wrong time...and lose eggs or chicks. I learned this the hard way years ago with an Eastern Bluebird nest.) Careful placement of nestboxes will help. House Wrens like nesting close to wooded areas. I will relocate the shown nestbox to a more open area.  The Discouraging House Wrens  page on the informative Sialis website has more great tips.

If you love Birds then you will appreciate World Bird Wednesday . Springman is the Host of this mighty fine Birding Event!

Peace,Health,Wealth, and Love to All!



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