Wrens Fly In Where Swallows Scorn To Nest

A couple weeks ago I shared with you the story of the tree swallows who, for whatever reason, refused to nest in the carefully constructed birdhouses we had placed in our yard for them.  Well, the story now has a second part, because this small brown bird has since arrived and started building nests in at least three of our birdhouses:


He’s a House Wren, and males of this species usually build several nests in different locations.  The female then selects one nest to complete building and to lay her eggs in.  We’ve seen male wrens carrying sticks into at least three of our bird houses, and we suspect that there may be at least two separate pairs of wrens.  After the male carries a stick into the nest, he spends a few minutes rearranging things inside the bird house, then flies out and sits either on the roost or on the roof of the house, singing loudly (as he is doing in the photo above).  For a tiny bird, the House Wren has a surprisingly loud and long song; I think his song is louder than he is.  (You can listen to recordings of the House Wren’s song here.)

House Wrens are also fiercely territorial, as they will destroy the eggs and nests of other birds nesting nearby.  I am a bit worried about this, because we do have a Black-capped Chickadee nesting in one of our other bird houses.  But since all of the other bird houses are empty, I hope that the wrens will find enough places to build their nests without needing to evict the chickadees.  Perhaps it is a good thing that the swallows did not nest here after all, now that the wrens have arrived.

Whatever happens, I am glad that we will have at least some birds nesting in our bird houses, and the houses won’t need to sit empty for another year.

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