Wren Nesting Habits {Explained!}

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.

In What Month Do Wrens Build Nests?

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?

how long does a wren 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.

28 thoughts on “Wren Nesting Habits {Explained!}”

    • Some just built on my deck in a bird house. It took them 2-3 days. But they seem to have abandoned it. I havent seen them in a week or more.

  1. My wrens have payed 5 eggs and I have not seen her for a while. Weather has been windy. Will she come back or should l clean out the nesting box

  2. We had four babies in the nest today. I had a camera on them since birth. Today all four are gone. I checked all obvious hiding places for them if they left the nest on their own. My wife suspects a villan (cat, snake, etc. may have taken them. We see no signs of a struggle. Is it common for all birds to leave at the same time, and are they able to fly when they leave?

    • If you live in an area where there are Magpies, most likely they took the babies. I lived in Utah for a while and every spring the poor robins were robbed of their hatches. I have a severe dislike for Magpies!

  3. I have a Wren building a nest in my mop against my wall, and another in my artificial tree at my door. The one at the door has been doing this for the last 3 years.

  4. Our wrens have taken up residence in the kitchen exhaust fan. They have done this for several years! The grate from outside is really small and if I did not see them fly into it!!

  5. Is there a way to discourage wrens from building nests in a location? We have a retractable awning that seems to attract a wren (or wrens) year after year. We tried putting fake snakes up where they usually build but it had no effect. We have tried limiting the space for them to build but they keep coming back even though we continue to take the nest down.

  6. We have baby wrens in a wren house that is south facing and in the sun most of the day. We are experiencing extremely hot temps now (96 degrees/feels like 107) and for the next few days. Is there anything that we can do to help them through this extreme heat?

      • Clarification: It not only has always faced Northeast but also has always been the shade of a big tree, Box Elder, Elm, etc.; never in direct sun. This same 70 year old Wren House has been moved to homes in three (3) states, each time duplicating the conditions of the previous successful (years & years) site.
        We have Wrens in it again this year. “Having your own Wren is a joy”.

  7. We rescued (mostly unfeathered) baby wrens left for 36 hours on the ground. I’ve been caring for them for 5 days successfully. Today I brought them to our farm (10 miles from where we found them) in their makeshift nest box. I left it under our barn uncovered for an hour while I was nearby and found a grown wren trying to feed them! Should I trust her to care for them going forward? I can’t find any info on a wrens “adopting” orphans. It’s exciting, no less, to see her give them attention. They chirp loudly when she sits on the box above them. She jumps down in it for a second and hops back up quickly.

  8. Hi I have 4 babies wren now one is died and the mother too.
    Do the male wren will come back and feeds the babies?

  9. We installed a round hanging wren next at a protected interior corner of our house. It hangs down in front of our dining room window. We were lucky to see the process from beginning to end. The babies fluttered around with the parents watching. It was a couple of hours before they were all gone. I suppose we will leave the nest intact for a while to see if a return happens

  10. I have wrens checking out my bird box for the first time ever. They are taking nesting material inside and I’m scared to go out in case I scare them away. It’s near to the only route to the bottom of my garden. How nervous are they, and can I walk calmly past without upsetting them? Any tips appreciated.

    • Wrens are very friendly and curious birds. They will get use to your presence. Ours nest in a birdhouse mounted on north side of our garden shed near the door. They will scurry away when I go in but have learned that I am harmless. They return every year, renovate and raise two broods. Their song is incredible.

  11. I put out a birdhouse that I thought was just for decoration more than 20 years ago and I’ve had wrens in it every year. I’ve never cleaned it out but I see the wrens bringing nesting material to it. I live in northern IL and they came back May 2nd. I absolutely love their song! Is it the male that does all the singing and is it just to allure the female or does he also sing when a female has made her choice of partner or nest? I know I would sing then.

  12. I don’t think this has been mentioned in any of the comments, and this maybe common knowledge…
    Wrens collect those little round “webby” spider egg balls, put them in their nests and when the baby spiders hatch, they eat the pesky tinny mites that are in the Wren nest “bugging” the Wrens! ???? It’s all good????.

  13. Our Carolina Wrens have all just left the nest. So we clean it out like we had to do for the Juncos in the same spot or will they return and use the same next again?

  14. I have a nest of baby wrens in my spider fern. I’ve daily watched momma work tirelessly feeding them. This morning, as momma wren made her way to the nest with breakfast, she finds the nest empty. Do babies fledge without momma knowing it or can I assume a predictor came during the night?

  15. I have had a wren house for about 10 years the wrens seem to like it as I always have tenants…chicks hatched about a week ago. Hope I’m around when they decide to move on..

  16. The wrens filled a birdhouse with twigs and the birdhouse is nailed up to one of our deck posts. They are not skittish – I can walk right under the birdhouse and they don’t leave

  17. I enjoyed watching the activity in and out of an old birdhouse my father in law built. This fall when I cleaned it out I found it packed south sticks and a tiny nest at the top with eight in hatched eggs. I cracked them and found no embryos. Very sad. I have no idea what many have happened here. Thoughts?


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