Nesting House Wrens

House Wren

House wrens are a small bird, abundant in the Americas, with a divine melodious song and elegant markings. They have numerous loveable aspects, but what is endlessly amusing and curious are the many places they choose to nest.


Since they are unable to dig their own cavity, they take up residence in all sorts of places.


Last week, while visiting Wisconsin, we found a pair of house wrens nesting in the base of an old basketball hoop.


Athena found the nest while photographing other birds, many of whom had nesting activity in my cousin’s rural yard. The bluebirds were tirelessly feeding their chicks, the barn swallows were doing the same; both in conspicuous nest boxes and easy to see.


Contrastingly, the house wren was quietly perched near an old rusty basketball post. Only one blade of dried grass could be seen. But every few minutes this clever bird would vanish under the rusty dome.


House wren with nest

House wrens are known for their creative nests. Small birds less than five inches (13 cm) long, they squeeze their little bodies and build a nest in some of the oddest places–old boots, abandoned cars, traffic lights.


A contemporary of John James Audubon wrote he found the house wren in “…olive jars, boxes, and … the hollow of trees.”


Audubon, too, found the house wren entertaining and “extremely pleasing.” He dedicated a drawing in his famous book to the house wren. Plate 83 in Birds of America, published 1827-1838, depictsΒ Troglodytes aedon nesting in an old hat.

House Wren drawing by John James Audubon. Plate 83. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Audubon’s house wren observations here.


This common songbird can be found throughout the Americas, from central Canada down to the southern tip of South America. See map below.


They have many predators (cats, rats, squirrels, owls, and more), but regardless of their vulnerability and diminutive size, house wrens are the most widely distributed bird in the Americas. They often brood two clutches (group of eggs) in a season, and lay from 3-10 eggs per clutch.Β  More info here.Β 


See the grass tucked up under the rusty dome?

A resourceful bird with a heavenly voice, the house wren has been building nests and breeding for centuries, lighting up the surprised faces of humans, and filling the air with sweet music.


Photo credit: Athena Alexander








89 thoughts on “Nesting House Wrens

  1. Oh clever birds Those wee wrens. The ultimate in protection. Like a house made out of armour. I wonder how they possibly discovered their clever hideaway. Brilliant for Athena to spot them. This is one bird I actually know and recognize. Small miracle I know. Wishing you and Athena a fabulous weekend.

    • That little dome is indeed the “ultimate in protection,” isn’t it, Sue? There was an outdoor cat wandering around too, but no worries for the wrens. I’m delighted you recognized the house wren, and who knows, maybe you’ll find one nesting near your house. Always a delight to hear from you. I’ve been on vacation and am looking forward to catching up on your animated, fun site this weekend.

      • Oh Jet I wish it was wrens that moved in this week at our house. We have a skunk under our attached neighbour’s front porch! I almost had a cardiac arrest when I saw him. You won’t find it on the blog but I do have it on our Facebook page. What a situation!
        Hope you had a great holiday.

      • Uh-oh, that’s no fun having a skunk next door. Yikes, Sue. I know the smell is ghastly, but they are beautiful creatures. Good luck, that’s a toughie. Yes, we had a great holiday, thank you.

      • No, they’re not exactly city slickers, are they. When we lived in the Berkeley hills we had a skunk family living nearby and egad I would wake up choking sometimes. They didn’t get along with the wildlife at our feeders, either, so there was often spraying.

  2. oh aren’t they clever! i know when the house wrens are in our backyard because of their angelic song! and what a delight to have them! thank you as always Jet. great shots of Athena!

    • Thank you, Lola, for your lovely comment. The wrens do indeed have an “angelic song.” It’s a always a pleasure to hear from you, and I enjoyed your Helsinki post.

  3. I was hoping for a closeup since it was so hard to see where the nest might be in that first shot. They are most definitely clever and resourceful. Athen is clever as well to have spotted and documented this for us!

    • What a treat to share the house wren nest with you, Gunta, thank you for your attentive comments. Athena was thrilled to have found it, especially seeing and getting a photograph of the wren with the nest. I enjoy your comments and visits so much, my friend~~

  4. Nesting in the base of an old basketball hoop, how clever! Love Athena’s photo captures.
    Information and facts you provided here are informative and educational. πŸ™‚
    Thank you, Jet!

  5. These little guys are SO Cute! I have a pair that have taken occupancy of the Lilac tree next to my kitchen window, so I am blessed to get some of the most amazing close ups of them….AND whats even better, I get to be serenaded by their amazing chortling and twitterings πŸ™‚

  6. Very nice and informative post, Jet. We have many little wrens in Norfolk, they are so tiny and cute,absolutely adorable. πŸ™‚
    Wishing you a great weekend with warm greetings from Norway,
    Dina & co

    • Great to hear about your wren friends in Norway, Dina. Thanks so much for stopping by. I always enjoy seeing and learning more about Norway through you and the Fab Four. πŸ™‚

  7. Amazing that you spotted that nest! What a joy to be able to see so much more of the world through your eyes. I didn’t even see the basketball pole! ha Thanks, ladies.

    • There is so much nesting going on at this time of year with all the birds nesting. It is difficult to behave maturely when the bird world is so busy and lively, I just want to run around and chase everything. lol. Usually I do, especially when the two of us are together. Fun to share the story with you, Nan, thank you so much.

  8. How I love reading the stories you have here, Jet. I love those little guys and have several houses for them hanging from some tree branches. I’ve totally forgotten about the houses and now you have me wondering if the wrens again have nested. I’ll have to investigate. Great post and I thank you! 🌺

  9. They are delightful! Really enjoyed learning about the house (anywhere) wrens. Extremely pleasing indeed. I’d love to see one nesting in old hat, basketball post, or anywhere – such versatility.
    Thanks for this, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    • Keep your eye out, pc, I’ve seen photos of wrens nesting in old trucks, just like the old pick-ups you admire. One day you might find a jackpot: an old pickup and a wren nest inside it. Well, that might be a stretch, but you get the idea. Soon you’ll be free from school obligations, and you’ll have the pleasure of more wandering. Cheers, my friend~~

  10. Wrens are very energetic birds. They love moving around always curious of little cavities or holes everywhere (potential homes?). They have a powerful voice that carries far reaching whether emitting calls or singing. I love their body shape. Thanks for the nice post Jet! πŸ™‚

    • Where I live the house wrens live year-round, but there in the Midwest and east they migrate. It’s good to get the signal of the coming season with something so simple and beautiful as a wren. Thank you Bill.

  11. Oh yes, this is a much loved bird here as well, though in the UK/Europe, we just call it the wren. Easily identified by its size, the turn-up of its tail and the loud busyness of its call/song. We have often had one in our garden but I can’t say I have seen it this year yet – fingers crossed for later.

    • Your wren is aka the Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), which is really only technical because, as you say Alastair, it’s more familiarly known as “the wren.” You describe them well, so busy in the garden. And I hope they are in your garden this year too. Always a treat to have exchanges with you, Alastair.

  12. Loved learning about the house wrens and absolutely loved that she chose an old basketball hoop for a nest. I’m still hoping one day to discover a bird nest close to home, but the only nest I’ve found in our basketball hoop is a bee nest and they really do not appreciate a basketball bouncing near their home. Thanks for sharing a story about your trip back to the wonderful Midwest and the great photo of the old basketball hoop brought back many enjoyable basketball memories.

    • I imagine there will be a day very soon when you find a nest close to your home, ACI, because you’re always out and about, active and sporty. In fact, I remember you found nests at the marsh, but that may not have been close to home. Cheers to spring, and nesting, and the outdoors. And thanks so much for your fun comment.

  13. I so wish I knew more and had a better vocabulary, better bird spotting skills and generally a more comprehensive knowledge for the world of birds. We are fortunate enough to live (as you know) in a habitat that is chockfull of all sorts of birds, but are seldom able to connect the dots between the sound/birdcall, the sighting and the birds that fly in our path. I appreciate this introduction to the naughty wren and its creative search for nesting locations. Thanks for sharing this informative post!


    • Hi Ben, I so enjoyed both your comments, and am delighted to have inspired you to look up the wren. And yes, you have some amazing birds in Sri Lanka, a great place to learn more about birding. I have been birding for 26 years, and can say it takes time to become adept at connecting the birds and their particular songs. I recommend you start with the basics, which is to just look at the bird, observe their markings, then use a local bird field guide to identify that species. Get to know them visually. But watch out…it’s addicting! Many thanks and best wishes to both you and Peta.

    • They’re quick and feisty little birds, but I think you might find one, Resa, now that you know about them. They like gardens and parks of all kinds. Thanks so much for your visits, always a pleasure.

  14. Interesting post, Jet! I wonder how how it gets under that armored nest! πŸ™‚ I put up four birdhouses, all occupied by House Wrens now. Maybe more next year.

  15. They have a fascinating behaviour and ability to squeeze into tight areas. That must give then an advantage over predators.

    Thank you for this post, Jet. It was a great read.

    • I agree, Draco, the wren is fascinating to watch. For such a small creature in this world, they sure get a lot accomplished. I’m happy you enjoyed the post, and appreciate your kind words.

    • The house wren is a bit bigger than the hummingbird, but not much bigger. The wren is rounder, too. The size varies, but they’re in general about four inches long, so yes, quite small. Happy to delight in the house wren with you, Kirt, thank you for your visit.

      • I have then seen them around our house….we have a lot of humming birds and I noticed it because the size wasn’t much different but flew like a regular bird vs the hummingbird.

  16. Thank you for this delightful and informative post, Jet! I never knew how creative these small birds can be. Love the nest pictures and the old painting πŸ™‚

    • This had me laughing. This year, with all the rains we had in winter and the prolific wildlife we’re enjoying this spring, we’ve had more wildlife sneaking into the house than ever before. They get confused. All in one week we had a junco (bird), a bat, and a skink come in, then the resulting flurry of trying to escape. So I am certain that if this wren were in your house, you would know it. I’m smiling as I type. Always a joy, David, always a joy. (They all got out unharmed, and happily there were no mishaps on our brand new carpet.)

  17. What a joy too see the dear wrens in the old cap! Nature never ceases to amaze me with her magic and wisdom.
    Great post, Jet.

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