Wrens are bubbly, energetic little birds known for their trilling chirp. In fact, if you have nesting boxes in your yard, you may already be familiar with wrens because they like to build their nests in these boxes. So you may be wondering, what are some other wren nesting habits?
What time of year do they build their nests? Do they reuse the same nests or start over every year? Keep reading! In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions and more.
What You'll Learn Today
In What Month Do Wrens Build Nests?
Wrens are small migratory songbirds. Since they tend to move to warmer regions, when do they return to their breeding grounds and start work on their nests?
As you might expect, wrens build their nests at the beginning of breeding season–April to July in most places. In some far southern areas, where wrens don’t migrate but live there year-round, nesting activities may begin as early as March; further north, they may not build their nests until summer.
When exactly a wren builds its nest can depend not only on the specific area where they live, but on weather pattern changes from season to season.
According to Birds of North America, wrens are found throughout North America from the extreme southern part of the United States and northward into Canada, as well as various regions throughout Europe. So the time in which they build their nests varies according to regional differences in weather and climate.
There are numerous species and subspecies of wren, and they build their nests in different ways and places. The house wren, for example, builds its nest in hollows of houses, barns, and other buildings, including nesting boxes you may set up in your yard.
Other types of wrens prefer trees and shrubs. All wrens nest in cavities of trees or buildings, though some may also use the abandoned nests of other birds.
Regardless of the wren species, these birds don’t create their own nest hollows as woodpeckers do. Instead, they rely on those already provided by nature or other animals.
Though most wrens do build their own nests, they will sometimes fight other birds, such as blue tits, for their nests. If they are successful at chasing away the original nest-builders, they will destroy any eggs in the nest and use it as their own.
Typically, male wrens choose the nesting location and build the nest out of small twigs, grasses, and moss. In fact, he may build multiple nests in multiple locations, then allow the female to choose which one she likes; this is part of the mating ritual, as the female wren can reject them all and find another mate if she desires.
Wrens build their nests in a number of spots and at a number of heights–anywhere from 5 ft to 30 feet off the ground. They tend to build their nests near good food and water sources, with lots of insects to eat, as well as berry plants and grasses.
Check out this timelapse video of wrens building their nest in a rusty watering can:
Do Wrens Come Back to the Same Nest?
Some birds will reuse their existing nests year after year, while others build a new nest every season. Wrens fall somewhere in the middle.
Wrens nearly always return to the same nesting grounds each season. As noted above, they usually migrate to warmer locations in the winter, then return to their homes in the spring.
Sometimes they will use the same nest, or at least the same nesting hollow, if it hasn’t been damaged or removed; usually though, they will choose a new nesting spot–sometimes several new spots to allow the female to choose the one she likes.
Even when wrens nest in the same spot year after year, they may build a new nest each year, or at least renovate the old one with new grasses and mosses.
Do Wrens Ever Abandon Their Nest?
As mentioned in the previous section, wrens will abandon their previous nesting spots if those spots have been damaged or destroyed. They may build a completely new nest in the same spot each season, or they may simply move on to a new nesting spot.
If their nesting spot is threatened or becomes dangerous during the nesting season, they may abandon it between raising broods of young, choosing a new, safer spot after raising their first batch of young and before raising the second batch.
How Long Do Baby Wrens Stay in the Nest?
Wrens typically lay 5 to 8 eggs at a time, and they will have two, sometimes three, broods each year.
According to Audubon, the incubation period for the eggs is 12 to 15 days, and the female wren will do most of the incubating. Once the babies hatch, both parents will feed them until they are grown and able to leave the nest.
The babies typically stay in the nest for about 12 to 18 days. Once they leave the nest, the parents will typically begin making preparations for the next batch of babies immediately.
Wrens are migratory birds that return to the same nesting grounds each spring. They may reuse their nests from previous years or start over from scratch and build a completely new nest.
Their babies usually stay in the nest for less than 3 weeks before fledging. Once they have left, the parents begin preparing the nest for the next brood of babies, as they typically have two to three broods per season.