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Will Wrens Reuse A Nest?

Will Wrens Reuse A Nest?

Before the breeding season starts, female wrens must have a sample of nests to choose from. It is where it will lay eggs and bring up its offspring. It needs a safe place where it can have the hatchlings develop into fledglings. But once the season is over, it abandons the nest until it’s ready to brood again. So, we need to ask ourselves if wrens have a habit of reusing the nest once again.  Note that House wrens live in brushy fields, forest edges, and shrubby backyards. If you want them to occupy boxes, such boxes should be closer to a bush or in a tree populated area. Their nests consist of small twigs, leaves, grass rootlets, and animal fur.

Wrens can reuse their nest once the fledglings are out and on their own. The parents may try to repair it a little bit before reusing it again. In most cases, the female wren will be away for just two weeks before it gets back into the nest ready for the next breeding season.

Although the majority of wrens prefer a new nest for brooding, a few of them will not mind reusing the nest if no other alternative is available. Some may opt to repair the old nest in their effort to reduce the number of ectoparasites. Read on to understand the nesting behavior of wrens.

Where Do Wrens Prefer To Nest?

Wrens will find it comfortable to build their nests in open woods, gardens, and even thickets. They will build their nest and breed in any place including semi-open areas, suburbs, streamside groves, woodlots, orchards, pine-oak woods, mountains, and even open forest.

But generally, the bird will prefer to nest in human habitats including homes and designated birdhouses.  They love singing and will want a nest that is in a bubbling area like a garden and city parks where they can sing and enrich the environment.

They can also build their nest in cavities including tree stumps, hollow trees, woodpecker holes. Also, they will nest in any type of enclosure including boxes, parked cars, flower pots, drainpipes, and even shoes. If they find a suitable site in an incomplete building, they will nest there.

Notice that wrens will happily build their nest in a cavity. The male counterpart will use twigs, grass, and weeds to build the structure and the female will use feathers, animal hair, and plant fiber to give it a soft finish.

How Long Will Wrens Take To Build A Nest?

The process of identifying a suitable place to build the nest may take some time depending on the environment. If the area has plenty of hideouts, it may take a little while but if there are enough cavities and openings in suburbs or in a garden, they will identify the spot and start the process of building a nest which will take a week or so.

In some cases, they use spider egg sacs to build the nesting. But they will not hesitate to nest in a made birdhouse that includes mailboxes and even shoes.  The nest can be anywhere as long as it is not on the ground. Any height of between 4 -30 feet can do.

Once the wren finishes building the nest, it will lay eggs each day until they are 5-6 in number. The female will lay in the nest in the next 12-15 days during the incubation period. But it may leave the nest once in a while to feed. 

Once the fledglings become of age, the parents will encourage them to leave the nest by feeding them less often. They will finally leave the nests in 15-17 days and team up with adult wrens who will feed and train them for more than two weeks.

But some wrens will not build their own nest. Instead, they will take over other birds’ nests by destroying the eggs they find there. They will destroy eggs in a nest which they find unattended.  The victim will leave the nest to find and build another one elsewhere.

Do Wrens Use The Same Nest Twice?

Although it is not certain that wrens will reuse the nest, you do not need to remove it once the hatchlings fly away. There is evidence that some Carolina wrens often reuse their nests. In some other cases, they are known to take over other bird’s nests. It means that they can use the same nest twice.

If they find a nest that is ready to be occupied, they may take over by destroying the eggs. Also, if you want the birds to reuse their nest, ensure to clean it between broods. You may clean it in the late fall or after the first nesting which usually comes in June and July. The birds raise two broods every year but other species will raise their broods once a year. So, the time you clean the wren is critical and may determine whether they reuse it or not.

Note that wrens may also clean their nest but when they find a clean one, they are likely to reuse it.  In fact, the female wren will only allow the male to court it once it shows it a few potential nest sites. It is for this reason that the male must always work hard to ensure that there are plenty of nests in its territory.

While the female is taking care of the young wrens, the male counterpart may move about to other nests and court other mates. So, it may need to repair some nests in its territory to ensure that there are enough sites to use to lure female wrens.

Notice that even where the birds have more than two nests, they do not sleep in them. The female wren will only sleep in the nest when laying eggs or during incubation. Thereafter, the nests are used to keep the babies warm as they grow up.

The parents will only bring different types of foods such as spiders, beetles, flies, caterpillars, and other insects until when the chicks are big enough to fly out of the nests.

Do Wrens Clean Out Old Nests?

When wrens decide to reuse a nest, they will be seen cleaning it and removing loose twigs. It is the male wren that will be seen cleaning the nest. They remove the old nesting material and replace them with new twigs and grass.  They also do so to remove ectoparasites such as blowfly larvae and mites from nesting.

So, if you are using nest boxes to breed wrens, you may need to clean them regularly to remove parasites like blowfly pupae. Thus, cleaning the nest will work out for house wrens but may deter bluebirds. However, ensure to clean the nesting between clutches. It ensures that the nest is ready for occupation before the next breeding season.

Note that if you are using box nests, wrens will prefer using a different nest for the second brood. So, if they use the first nest to raise the first brood, ensure the second nest is available for the second brood. You may decide to clean the nests in between the broods.

How Do You Build Reusable Wrens’ Nests?

Wrens will reuse a nest if it is well built. But you will need to locate the nest in an area that the house wren considers ideal. If it is placed on a dead tree or spaces or a pole, then the wren may choose to use it again and again.

Generally, you should place the nest within 100’ of woodland or you may choose to attach the box to a building. The unit must be firmly mounted but the box must be hung at least 5-10 feet from the ground. If you are building several wrens houses, you need to give them a space of at least 100’ apart. 

If you choose to use a box, it must be about 8 inches high and should have an entrance of about 1-2 inches in diameter. You may then fill half of the box with dried grass. It makes it easier for the wren to build the nest.

But you may make it easier for the wrens to modify their houses by creating a round entrance hole. Ensure to cut the front part of the box entrance of about 1-2’’ slots to serve as the door.

To attract the birds, you must ensure that the wooden box looks as natural as possible. Painting or treating the boxes makes them toxic and so they may not attract the wren. Also, the material used matters. Pine, redwood, and cedar are some of the materials you may use.

Ensure to add some grooves to the interior walls.  It allows the young fledglings to exit easily. Also, ensure to insulate the box to provide the warmth required.

Of course, you must ensure that the box remains dry by slanting the roof slightly. But ensure to have drainage holes that allow the waste and moisture to drain away.

 Do Wrens Recycle Building Materials?

Generally, all birds including wrens will be happy using a new nest every brooding season. However, most of them save their time by dismantling the old nest and recycling some of the materials in building a new nest.

The size of the nest they build may vary considerably but most of them will be modeled alongside the tree cavities or rock openings.  Some wrens weave complex structures and use varying amounts of materials.  The male wren is in charge of construction and so must work hard to ensure that several nests are at its disposal in the chosen territory.

Some of the commonly used materials include feathers, leaves, wool, cobwebs, and twigs. In some cases, they may use light wires including spectacle frames to build the nest.

Will Wrens Adapt And Make A Nest Just Anywhere?

Carolina wren in particular will nest in just anything. They will be comfortable in the garage, jeep, and even grill. Note that they are insect-eating birds that know where such insects can easily be found.  They are creative and thus, you must provide a nest box that meets its standards. If you don’t, it will ignore your box and build its nests in the woods.

Notice that Carolina wrens like living closer to where human beings are. As such they will seek to build their nests closer to areas where human beings inhabit.

They will seek to have a nest of their own during the breeding season. Therefore, the male wren must work hard to ensure that they have somewhere where their offspring will call home. As such, they will build a nest in enclosures, cavities, or a manmade box. They prefer having their nest in a brush pile. Such brush piles allow them to flee and hide from predators at any time. They also keep bugs and other insects that the bird uses as food.

Therefore, wrens will establish themselves in the brush piles and boxes including the mailbox and tree cavities.  They make nests of varying sizes, most of which are made of twigs, hay, strips of bark, and even leaves. They can also nest in shoes or mailboxes. But if you leave your garage door open often, or there is an opening that allows them to access the garage whatever time they want, they are likely to build a nest in the garage.

Obviously, wrens feel safer when closer to human beings. He provides space for nests such as the garage or mailboxes which help them to hide from predators.


House wrens are territorial and quite aggressive. They will build their nest next to human settlement. They will also build a nest in the garage, mailbox, or even an abandoned shoe. Once the nest is complete, they will protect it and will not want other birds to nest closer. If they find an unoccupied nest, they will get in and puncture the eggs. They may kill the embryos forcing the intruding bird to find a nest elsewhere. If the birds are in a cavity nest, they may push them away to force the intruder to find a new territory away from them. They may occupy the nest and use it to brood.