What is the Best Food to Put Out for Wrens?

Wrens are primarily insectivores, but they will eat bird seed from bird feeders. Sunflower seeds, suet with peanut butter, and mealworms are great food sources for all types of wrens.

The wren’s diet consists mostly of insects. Wrens spend their days foraging for caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, mealworms, snails, and spiders. But wrens will also happily visit backyard bird feeders. Fill platform bird feeders with sunflower seeds, dried mealworms, and peanut hearts to attract these energetic small birds to your backyard.

Planting your yard with native plant species and avoiding pesticides is another great way to attract your local species of a wren. We’ll cover the different types of bird feeders wrens eat and what foods you should offer during the breeding season and the winter months. We will also answer some common questions about feeding wild birds and whether or not wrens will use a birdhouse or nesting box.

Wren Species Diets

All species of wren eat insects primarily. The wren’s diet varies during the winter months due to insect scarcity. They are a few bird foods that will bring all types of wrens to your bird feeder. Depending on the season and where you live, you can attract multiple species of wrens to your backyard bird feeders.

Of all the bird foods you can offer, peanut hearts and mealworms are the wren’s favorite. If you make your mix, use peanut hearts for wild birds, not for human consumption. Wrens eat sunflower seeds, too, but the peanut heart and mealworms will bring wrens to your yard faster than most bird food.

what do wrens eat

Wrens Visiting Bird Feeders

Carolina wrens (Thryothorus ludovicianus) stay in the same place year-round, so you will likely see the same birds throughout the year. While house wrens (Troglodytes aedon) are the most common species of wren in North America, during the winter, they head south to the warmer regions. Unless you live in California, Mexico, Central or South America, you will not likely see house wrens in winter.

Some types of wrens are migratory, while others are not. Winter wrens (Troglodytes hiemalis) are another migratory species in North America. They spend the summer breeding season in Canada, flying south to the United States for the winter months. In North America, there are nine species of wren in the family Troglodytidae, so you’re likely to find at least one type of wren visiting your backyard bird feeder year-round.

Best Bird Feeders for the Wren Songbirds

Wrens prefer platform or tray, bird feeders. Wrens eat from ground feeders as well, provided it has plenty of mealworms or peanut hearts. Wrens will also happily eat peanut butter-based suet from a suet feeder, especially during winter months when food is scarce.

You can buy bird feeders specifically for wrens from Amazon or retail stores. Platform and tray bird feeders come in various colors and styles, too. These bird feeders are also appropriate for nuthatches, bluebirds, chickadees, and blue jays. Providing multiple bird feeders will ensure small birds aren’t chased away by larger songbirds.

Quick wren facts:

  • A group of one or more types of wrens is called a herd or a chime.
  • Wrens eat out of bird feeders, but they will also eat peanut butter smeared on tree trunks.
  • Most species of wrens nest in woodpecker holes, natural cavities, and crevices. But the cactus wren builds its nest in low desert shrubs.
  • Cactus wrens (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) are the state bird of Arizona and resemble a small road runner. Unfortunately, their population is in steep decline due to habitat destruction. Providing supplemental food sources can help cactus wrens if you live in the southwestern desert area of North America.
  • Wrens and other songbirds appreciate a heated bird bath to keep the freshwater supply flowing if you live in an area with harsh winter months.
baby wrens eating

Should I provide a nesting box or birdhouse?

Wrens are cavity nesters using nesting boxes and birdhouses to raise families. They have also used empty flower pots and other random yard debris to build their nests. These small birds like tight spaces, crevices, and cavities. Wrens have 1-2 broods yearly, with 2-4 eggs per clutch.

Nestlings remain in the nest for around 18 days when they can fly. Once they leave the nest, fledglings learn how to forage and survive from their parents, but they do not return to the nest. Plenty of nesting boxes and birdhouses will ensure your fledglings have a safe place to roost at night while the adults tend to the next brood.

Clean birdhouses and nesting boxes yearly. Once fledglings from the second brood have left, wait a week or two, then clean out the nest. Wrens rarely have a third brood, but it’s best to give the parents some time to ensure they aren’t laying more eggs.

Should you feed wild birds?

Experts agree that feeding birds has a positive impact on their survival rate. But feeding wild birds comes with risks, too. Having food sources too close to nesting boxes leads to increased nest predation by predators. By using best practices when feeding birds, you can ensure your backyard birds reap the benefits and none of the pitfalls of supplemental bird feeding.

By making a few small changes in how you feed wild birds, you can ensure the experience is safe and beneficial-

  • Clean spilled bird seed daily to prevent rodents. Rodents draw predators, which makes your yard unsafe for birds.
  • Hang bird feeders far from nesting boxes, bird houses, and nesting sites. At least 30’ or more.
  • Provide a few different bird feeders appropriate for your local wild birds.
  • Only feed fresh food. Damaged or old bird food can spread disease and make your backyard birds sick.
  • Use squirrel-proof bird feeders to keep pests out of your bird seed. Store bird seed in a pest-proof container.
  • Vary how often and which bird feeders are filled. Supplemental bird feeding shouldn’t take the place of foraging habits. Wild birds that rely 100% on humans for their food source lose their foraging instincts over time.
  • Keep cats indoors. Songbirds gathered around bird feeders or picking bird seed off the ground is easy prey for domestic cats. Bells on collars are not enough warning for small birds to escape.

The species of wren in North America are ground feeders who love insects, and they are also attracted to peanut hearts and peanut butter. This small bird bursting with energy is a lovely addition to your backyard bird flock. Luckily a few well-placed bird feeders with their favorite foods are all it takes to attract this fun little songbird.

Tara Summerville

Tara Summerville is a freelance writer that loves her backyard birdfeeders. She enjoys sitting on her deck with a cup of coffee, watching cardinals, blue jays, finches, and chickadees munch away at her backyard offerings. Her fascination with birds began as a child; spending afternoons at her grandma's house watching and identifying birds. She has since carried her love of songbirds into adulthood and ensures no bird in her yard goes hungry!

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