Wren Update

They grow up so fast! The young wrens are now one week old, and starting to look like birds. I count at least 5 beaks in the nest, but there are probably one or two more. I’m keeping my visits very brief to avoid disturbing the birds any more than necessary.

These are house wrens, and they normally fledge about 16-18 days after hatching. But like many other birds if spooked they may leave the nest prematurely, before they are able to survive outside.

I must admit I have mixed emotions about the wrens. While they certainly will do their part to eat many insects and bugs, they are not exactly going to win any Good Neighbor awards in the bird kingdom. Besides being extremely territorial and defensive, they are also not above trashing other cavity nesting birds’ nests, such as tree swallows and bluebirds. That nest-destroying trait sounds all too much like house sparrows – which are on my very short list of least favorite birds (to put it mildly).

So it is likely I will be trying to discourage the house wrens from occupying the nest boxes again. They are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, and so one cannot remove or disturb an active nest – not that I would ever dream of doing so. The key is to keep the nest from being completed in the first place. There are definitely things to try to make the boxes and habitat less hospitable to troublesome birds like the house wrens. It’s ironic that the main reason I’m using this specific style of box is to discourage house sparrows, which seems to to be working, even if it doesn’t keep the wrens away.

In the meantime, I wish the little ones well. May they live long and prosper – just maybe NIMBY.

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9 Responses to Wren Update

  1. Liza says:

    That’s pretty funny. At least they’re cute when they’re little!

  2. I wanted to be a good bird-baby granny, I really did. But after this round of baby house sparrows flies from the nest I’m going to plug the holes in the bird houses. They are just too destructive in the garden. I was hoping to attract the house finches that always nest on our front porch, but two years in a row I’ve only attracted the sparrows, and the finches are still on the porch.

  3. I’m always amazed how quickly birds grow. On the upside, house wrens are wonderful insect eaters. A number of birds displace other nestlings or eggs. It’s a remarkably common practice in the bird world. I’m grateful we don’t have brown-headed cowbirds here, as they’re notorious for laying eggs in flycatcher nests. I expect even if you can successfully exclude the wrens from the nest boxes, they’ll nest somewhere nearby, as they’re such a pervasive and adaptable species. Good luck! For now though I can’t wait to see these little ones at fledgling stage.

    • Villager says:

      The wrens don’t need cavities to nest in, so excluding them would give the birds that require a cavity to nest a better chance of using the nest boxes. And I certainly welcome their presence here. Hopefully we can figure out a way to encourage the other visitors to nest as well. We are enjoying them at any rate. The babies are getting very vocal now when they are hungry!

  4. I love pictures of baby birds in nests. I have seen the same behavior that you describe in our native “Cactus Wrens”. But, they are very mischievous and fun to watch. I look forward to seeing your little ones stretch their wings soon.

  5. Gloria Bonde says:

    Way cute – so tiny. They are fun to look at – Gloria

  6. Debbie says:

    I also have a short list of least favorite birds and at the top are the starlings. I feed the birds in the winter but when the starlings arrive in the spring, they just wreck havoc, eating all the seed and literally ripping apart the feeder. I have resorted to a finch feeder for the summer, even the chickadees will turn upside down to eat the seed. We have a lot of robins, and I love to see them nest and the babies.

  7. Meredith says:

    NIMBY birds! I didn’t realize they did that, and I am sad to know it. 🙁

    How quickly they’re developing, though. I’m glad you know enough to keep your visits brief and not disturb their baby hearts too much. I don’t know anything about supervising nesting boxes, so I’m learning from you.

    • Villager says:

      I struggle with favoring one bird species over another, but I do that when I shoo the starlings away from the bird feeders, so the other birds can get a chance too. And of course we do that all the time with plant species, when we favor the ones we desire and weed out the ones we don’t. I guess the question becomes, where do we draw the line?

      I have seen firsthand what house sparrows do to bluebird nests, pecking the eggs, killing the young and dumping them out on the ground. That is a sad sight that will be forever etched in my memory.

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