Ah yes....words of wisdom imparted by my dad. Unfortunately, it appears this House Wren didn't heed my dad's advice. I watched him over the course of several minutes as he worked with this branch. No matter which way he turned it, that branch just would go in that darn hole! Finally, after several attempts, this Wren did get that stick through the hole, but the technique he used was similar to my "pound it with a hammer until it fits!" technique that I used before my dad offered up his advice!
Spring is winding down and nesting season is in full swing - or even wrapping up for many different wildlife species. I thought it would be fun, over the course of the next few posts, to explore the widely varied nesting techniques of [mostly] birds and a few other stray species.
We begin today with the energetic little House Wren. The House Wren is a common backyard bird here in the U.S. They readily take to nest boxes or you might even find their nests in an old boot in your barn or the wreath on your front door! If you'd like to put up a nest box to try and attract a House Wren, put the box up in mid to late March, well before breeding season begins. The nest box should have an entrance hole that is 1" in diameter (facing in any direction) and be placed 5-10 feet off the ground. Attach a guard to pole to keep predators from raiding eggs and young.
The male will begin building nests even before he has a mate, and will build many "mock" nests. It is up to the female to choose the winning nest. Once chosen, the female puts on her finishing touches and will make a nest cup over the pile of sticks the male has placed. She lines the nest with soft materials like feather, hair and moss. Please keep in mind that, although tiny, House Wrens can be fierce. If you are trying to attract Bluebirds, Tree Swallows or Chickadees - the House Wren will not make a good neighbor!
And here's a cool little House Wren tidbit... As the season progresses, House Wren nests can become infested with mites and other parasites that feed on the wren nestlings. Perhaps to fight this problem, wrens often add spider egg sacs into the materials they build their nests from. In lab studies, once the spiders hatched, they helped the wrens by devouring the nest parasites. (Thanks to Cornell Lab or Ornithology)
Have you had House Wrens nest in or near your yard? Let me know some of their favorite nesting sights in the comments below!