Wrens: Mating Habits, Nesting & Eggs

house wren nesting
House wrens have many nesting sites from potted plants and old shoes to neat nesting boxes and birdhouses! They are cavity nesting birds that have two broods of 2 to 6 eggs per clutch. Their eggs are less than an inch thick and are pinkish white in color. House wrens leave the nest after 17 days.

Did you know that House Wrens have one of the world’s largest ranges of any other songbird? They can be spotted anywhere in North and South America, from Canada down to the tip of South America. Their breeding season starts very early in the year, and they raise between one to two broods per season, although in some cases, they can raise to three.

House Wrens aren’t too particular about where they build their nests. They prefer cavities in trees for ultimate protection from predators but love man-made nesting boxes even better than naturally occurring cavities. Let’s dive into what the Wren mating season looks like and how they raise their young as the season progresses.

wren nest

Wren Breeding Season

Wren breeding season starts in late March and into early April. What’s interesting about Wren’s mating habits is that the female is attracted to more than just the male songbirds’ mating call. During mating season, the male picks a few spots he deems appropriate for a nesting spot and places a few twigs into the cavity.

When the male house wren finds a prospective mate, he takes her to show off his potential nesting locations. If the female approves of the nesting location, she will start to build her nest. Male wrens place twigs in up to twelve different nesting locations to ensure that the female will like at least one!

small cavity nests

What Does a House Wren Nest Look Like?

Nesting Location

House wrens are not too particular about where they nest, as cavity-dwelling birds, they will make their home anywhere. House wrens have been observed nesting in rotted trees, old woodpecker nests, planter boxes on front porches, and even old shoes! These fiercely territorial songbirds will even kick out residents of a pre-established nest of a larger bird to claim it as their own.

Nesting Material

Female house wrens build their nests with soft materials such as moss, feathers, pet hair, grass, or any soft material they find. They even use spider egg sacs as very inventive nesting material. Once the spider egg sacs hatch, they feed the freshly hatched spiders to their young. That’s called working smarter, not harder!

Nest Size and Positioning

The nest found inside the cavity is quite small. It can measure between 3″ to 9″ long and 6″ wide. House wrens will build their nests anywhere from 4 to 30′ above the ground. If house wrens find another nest around their nesting grounds, they will destroy it along with the eggs – in an attempt to monopolize all of the nesting sites in their territory.

Wren Nesting Boxes

Attracting Wrens to your backyard space has a ton of advantages. They’re delightful little birds that fill your yard with lovely songs, and they are also a great way to control insect pest populations you may have. Since these songbirds are avid bug-eaters, attracting wrens helps keep the bugs off your vegetable garden!

While House Wrens aren’t too picky on their nesting locations, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Wrens are extremely territorial birds and aren’t below kicking out a resident songbird to make their own nest in a more desirable location. If you have other birdhouses in your backyard, keep your wren nesting boxes far away from other birdhouses, about 1-acre in radius. Wrens will destroy and poke holes in other songbird eggs, to get other bird species to flee the area.

Attracting your local house wrens to your nesting box

Some birders have noticed that these delightful little songbirds prefer nesting boxes over natural cavities and other locations found in the wild. Man-made nesting sites are a fan favorite of house wrens, so attracting them to your yard is super simple.

It’s rare that the same pair of wrens will return to the same nesting site, but that doesn’t mean that another pair of wrens will reuse that space. Even if you didn’t get a chance to clean your nesting box, a new pair of wren might reuse the old nest!

To ensure that your backyard space is ripe for a Wren family, ensure they will have easy-access to food and water. Place a bird bath around your nesting box and plenty of bird feeders. If you want to give House Wrens a special treat, mealworm suet cakes are a great choice!

wren eggs

How Many Broods do Wrens Raise in a Season?

House Wrens raise two broods per season, but sometimes they have been spotted raising to three on occasion. A female house wren lays between 2-6 eggs per brood. The clutch size varies from 3 to 10 eggs, with an average of between 5-6 eggs.

The female will lay one egg daily and often leaves the nest to find food before laying another egg the following morning. If you find a wren nest unoccupied with a few eggs, it doesn’t mean that it’s abandoned. It simply means that the female isn’t done laying her brood.

After the eggs are laid, the incubation period lasts between 9-16 days. Wren eggs are primarily white or a pinkish shade of white and accents with speckles of reddish-brown spots. The wrens eggs are less than an inch both in width and length, making it a superbly tiny and adorable egg!

Length of House Wren Egg0.6″ – 0.8″
Width of House Wren Egg0.4″ – 0.6″
Color of House Wren EggPinkish White, with Reddish-Brown Spots or Flecks
House wren nesting information

Wren Nestlings and Fledglings

After the brood hatches, baby house wrens and Carolina wrens remain in the nest for up to 17 days. During this time, both the male and female hunt for food to bring back to the nestlings. As the nestlings grow, they start to develop feathers and will start to open their eyes. After 17 days in the nest, they are ready to leave the nest. Once they leave, the male house wren continues to feed fledglings for up to two weeks. Often, he’s putting a double shift making a new nest for a second brood while feeding young fledglings.

house wren babies

Providing Ample Food Supplies for House Wrens

House wrens eat a diet that consists mostly of insects. They love spiders, crickets, mealworms, and even catch flying insects. During the breeding season, they often feed protein-rich insects to their young and teach young fledglings how to catch their meals.

If you want to attract house wrens to your backyard feeders, they also dine on seeds and berries when insects aren’t as plentiful, so provide a feeder with these options when possible. While traditional birdseed composed of sunflower seeds and cracked corn works in a pinch, it’s not their favorite.

Opt for peanuts, dried berries, or even a mealworm suet feeder to attract Carolina wrens or house wrens. These unique songbirds often prefer more protein-rich foods, which especially help them in the cooler months.

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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