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House Wren: Cole’s Bird of the Month for October

The House Wren is a small songbird with a big personality. With a reputation for being bold and curious, they are usually one of the first birds seen investigating a new feeder. While this little wren may be somewhat dull in color, it is anything but dull when it comes to behavior. Naturally comfortable around people, they’ll even fly right up to your home in an effort to catch insects or spiders or serenade you with a melodious tune as if to say “notice me!”

They are brown to brownish gray, with darker barring on the wings and back and a lighter colored brown or white on the belly. While the body of a House Wren tends to be compact, the beak and tail is fairly long. House Wrens are distinguished from many other types of wrens by the lack of a noticeable eyebrow.

Though common throughout the entire western hemisphere, this time of year you’ll find many House Wrens on the move seeking warmer weather for the winter. During the coldest temperatures, don’t expect to see them or hear from them. They prefer to stay quiet and hunker down in the protection of shrubs and dense forests. They’ll spend the winter in the southern most United States and Mexico then return as the thermometer rises. In summer, they are active singing and building nests near woods, forests, parks, farms, and suburbs. Not surprisingly, these petite birds with a strong spirit and a cheerful song are aggressive when it comes to territory and nesting.

House Wrens are known for taking over the nests of other birds – including other House Wrens! They’ll do everything from pulling twigs out of a competitor’s nest to destroying the nest or even breaking the eggs of another bird. Not even the size of their competition phases them as they do not hesitate to evict larger birds from a nest. As a result they often end up competing with chickadees and bluebirds for nesting sites.

Home thievery notwithstanding, House Wrens are resourceful creatures that can and will turn just about anything into a nest. They’ll just as soon use a cavity created by woodpeckers or a shoe left in your garage as they would regulation nest boxes created by people. They usually choose a site close to woods, but not too deep in fear of not having a clear sight of approaching predators.

Once in the nest, House Wrens have an interesting way of keeping parasites to a minimum. They often add spider egg sacs to the material used to build the nest. When the spiders hatch, they devour the parasites.

Single males will compete for a female even after she’s already started nesting with another male. About half of the time, the new male displaces his rival. When he does, he usually discards the existing eggs or nestlings and starts a new family with the female. While courtship is going on in the spring and summer, you can often hear the male with his happy and hearty song. For such a small bird, they have no trouble being heard. Click on this video to hear a male as he works on a nest and sings in hopes of attracting a mate.

Watch the male in full courtship mode.

Fledglings are born naked and helpless. They stay in the nest for 15 – 17 days. The video below shows some House Wren fledglings in a nest just before they are ready to fly. During this time, the mother feeds them every few minutes.

If you are perhaps interested in building a bird house to attract wrens, this link from the Missouri Department of Conservation shows you how.


The House Wren is a small but hearty bird that doesn’t mind being aggressive when it comes to mating and survival. It has a strong song and a big spirit. According to Cornell University, the oldest living House Wren lived to be nine years old!

If you have photos or videos of House Wrens, please share them with the Cole’s Community on Facebook. Click the link below to join the conversation and like our page.


Cole’s Wild Bird Products is a family-owned company that distributes wild bird feed and suet products. The company is known for offering the highest quality products on the market. Cole’s also specializes in chili-infused seed products designed to make your feeder a bird’s only “hot” spot. Cole’s started in the garage of mom and pop entrepreneurs Richard and Nancy Cole back in the early 1980’s. Today it distributes to retailers nationwide. Cole’s is located in the metro Atlanta area. For more information, visit www.coleswildbird.com – See more at: https://coleswildbird.com/2014/09/downy-woodpecker-coles-bird-of-the-month-for-september/#sthash.Zomt000m.dpuf