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Wrens, the Tiny Workhorse in the Garden

June 13th, 2009

I’ve read about how great of an asset wrens are in the garden. I hear that they were especially good at catching cabbage worms. So how do you go about attracting these tiny birds to your gardens? It’s as simple as putting up a wren house or two. In fact these little birds prefer man-made nesting boxes to their natural habitat. They also seem to be fairly “tame” not minding human presence, which makes them perfect garden birds.
Wren House
Wrens are small cavity nesting birds, so they like small houses with a certain size entrance hole (1 1/8 inch). We have a few “wren” houses that have larger holes so other birds nest in them, like chickadees. In April you’ll start to hear the male wrens singing their beautiful songs as they look for a place to build a nest. He actually builds several nests, up to 12, and the female selects the one she likes and then finishes it. They lay 4-6 eggs, incubation time last 12-15 days and the young will leave the nest in 16-17 days.
Baby Wren in House
There’s a funny story about this condemned house. While working at the edge of the woods one day we found this tiny house. It was so small and in such bad shape we figured it was once a decorative birdhouse, too small for anything to actually use. We kind of the liked the “rustic-ness” of it so we hung it up in a dogwood tree. Not too long later the wrens moved in. I kind of feel bad for them, having to live in a condemned house. When the little birds leave we’ll be taking it down and reattaching the bottom for them. I keep hoping it won’t fall out when the little ones were in there.
Wren with insect by wren house
Wrens are really wonderful little birds to have around the gardens. They have beautiful songs and they’re constantly flitting and hopping about. They spend a lot of their time on the ground searching under plants for worms and other insects. They have kept my garden cabbage worm free, I occasionally see evidence of cabbage worms or maybe a worm or two, but then I’ll notice the wrens under the plant and the worms are gone.
Wren Feeding Baby
I’ve really enjoyed watching the wrens this year. I’ve been watching the nest and listening to the babies. I waited a long time to get this shot of the mom feeding her babies. They’ll be leaving the nest soon, in fact one of the nests we have they’ve already left. Then they’ll start all over again since wrens will often attempt to raise another brood when the first one fledges.

What do you do to attract beneficial birds to your gardens?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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