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Carolina Wren's Nest

Since the mid-1980s, Yvonne has maintained a registered NWF backyard wildlife habitat where a variety of birds, insects, and frogs abound.

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Photo Journal: Carolina Wren Bird, Nature's Pest Control

The little brown Carolina Wren birds with their perky tails and loud voices build a nest somewhere around our house each year. We photographed their nest in the hanging basket by the porch and on the window ledge. These friendly Wrens will build their nest almost anywhere.

Carolina Wrens are also an excellent pest control crew in the garden. When they have babies, hundreds of insects are consumed each day.

On this page, you'll find information about Carolina Wrens and many photographs of their nests and babies. We hope you enjoy this view into the life of this interesting and beneficial little bird.

 

Wren photo and all others on this page are copyright Y.L. Bordelon All Rights Reserved, unless otherwise noted.

Carolina Wren Facts and Fun

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus), like the name implies, is a southern bird, although its range extends into the northeastern United States. This is the most common wren in South Louisiana.

Unlike its northern cousin, the house wren (which we rarely or never see), it gets along well with other cavity nesting birds. These perky little brown birds, with the big voice are great to have around the vegetable garden, especially if you garden organically. When they are nesting (and they will nest 3-4 times down here in the south), they devour thousands of harmful insects and larvae.

 

The quote by Thalassa Crusco comes to mind when I see a pair of Carolina Wrens making hundreds of trips to their nest bringing juicy bugs to the nestlings.

 

Today I am sure no one needs to be told that the more birds a yard can support, the fewer insects there will be to trouble the gardener the following year.

Diet of Carolina Wrens

Carolina Wren Males Brings Food by Y.L. Bordelon

Carolina Wren Males Brings Food by Y.L. Bordelon

According to Martin, Zim and Nelson in American Wildlife and Plants A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits, a Carolina Wren's diet consists mainly of animal food, including ants and other Hymenoptera, flies and millipedes. Fragments of small vertebrate animals are commonly found in their stomachs. Plant food makes up a small part of their diet and consists of Poision-ivy, Bayberry, Pine, Oak and Sweetgum.

 

Birds Love Suet

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A wide variety of birds eat suet and Carolina Wrens love it. We put it out all year long, so we make a special "no-melt" kind. You'll find the recipe below.

Home Made Suet

2 cups (1 block) of LARD (animal fat)

Scroll to Continue

1 cup CRUNCHY Peanut butter (cheap kind)

1 cup of Oatmeal

1 cup of unbleached flour

1 cup of cornmeal or wheat germ

Melt the lard a little in a big glass bowl (30 sec. in the microwave) and mix all of the ingredients together. It gets messy so let the kids get involved, they'll love it! Line a rectangular pan with a sheet of wax paper and press the mixture in. Pop it in the freezer for an hour or so, then cut it into blocks. We find that smaller ones (4" x 2") work best because the birds eat it before it can mildew in the hot, humid weather. Store the blocks in a ziploc bag in the freezer and refill your suet feeder as needed.

 

Old Fashioned Lard Animal Fat

Old fashioned animal fat or lard is best in suet. Many birds will not eat it if you use vegetable shortening. In my town, it is sometimes hard to find lard, so I've started ordering it from Amazon. This 16 oz size is just right for a batch of suet. I get several packages at a time and freeze the extra ones until I need them.

Suet Cakes and Basket Feeder

If you don't have time to make your own suet, or you are looking for a gift for the bird lover on your list, here are some ready made suet cakes.

Heath Outdoor Products DD-20 Fancy Suet Cake, Case of 16

Song and Nesting Habits

These little birds have a very loud voice for their size and the males love to sing. The male of the pair that built a nest in the hanging pot would sing with a bug in his mouth almost every time he brought food to the nest.

Listen to the song of the Carolina Wren.

A very interesting and endearing fact is that Carolina Wrens mate for life and that they stay together even when they are not breeding. We were able to observe this first hand with a pair which had a male with white wing and tail feathers. We observed this pair at Christmas in the "birds'" Christmas tree, gobbling up the suet together, then during breeding season and throughout the year.

Carolina Wrens will nest in standard Bluebird boxes with a 1 1/2" opening, but they will also use smaller houses with a 1 1/4 inch opening. Carolina wrens do not just nest in cavities, however, they do like to have a bit of an overhang of sorts when they choose a spot that is not a box. Around our house they've built their dome shaped nest of pine needles, leaves, fine grass and feathers in such an assortment of places and things that it calls for a list.

Guide to Eastern Birds' Nests

This book has helped us identify many birds' nests that we have found in our nest boxes and in shrubs and trees on our property. The pictures and descriptions are excellent.

Photo Journal of the Carolina Wren's Nest.

We were lucky to have a pair of Carolina Wrens build a nest in a hanging basket on our front porch. We were able to get some photographs with our automatic motion sensor camera and also our hand-held Canon camera.

 

Carolina Wren Poll

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Our Carolina Wrens are at it Again!

The Carolina Wren pair that first nested in the Christmas Wreath that was left up too long (My husband LOVES Christmas and hates to see it go) and then in the hanging basket on the edge of the porch, have now nested around the corner in the window which holds our emergency (hurricane) A/C unit. This makes nest number three.

 

We first became aware of nest building activity when the cats and I heard little scritch-scratch sounds coming from outside on the right side of the window A/C unit. The cats took turns standing on the air-conditioner to peer out at the little pair as they busily brought pine needles, leaves, roots, moss and some feathers and arranged their dome nest in the small space.

Before we knew it, Mother Wren had laid four eggs and was sitting tight. The eggs hatched a couple of days ago. I knew because I began hearing the male give his, "Honey, I'm bringing food home" song. I just checked and took a picture and it looks like we have 3 (maybe 4) baby Carolina Wrens. We'll count this as Day 3. The babies fledged on Day 12.

Traditional Bluebird House - $ 34.50
This traditional Bluebird House has a 1 9/16 in hole. Woodlink makes high-quality, Ornithologically correct houses and shelters.

There was an old Man

There was an old man with a beard,

Who said: "It is just as I feared!

Two owls and a hen, Four larks and a wren

Have all built their nests in my beard"

by Edward Lear

1812-1888, English landscape Painter and Writer of an original kind of nonsense verse called the limerick.

Carolina Wren Foraging Video

Farmers Remember Quote

Let the farmer remember that every bird destroyed, and every nest robbed, is equivalent to a definite increase in insects with which he already has to struggle. He will soon appreciate the fact that he has a personal interest, and a strong one, in the preservation of birds. - Henry Oldys

Yesterday I took my saw

And some bits of wood,

And I made a little house

Nicely as I could.

I put on a mossy-green

Little pointed roof,

And I cut a tiny door

That is pussy-proof.

For I hope some little wrens

To our yard will come

And will choose my little house

For their little home.

I shall hang it in the boughs

Of the apple-tree,

And I'm sure as rent for it

They will sing to me!


Bluebird Pair Postcard by naturegirl7                

If you put up a well made bluebird house, many birds, including Carolina Wrens and Bluebirds will use it to raise their young.

Wren Poll

Cavity Nesting Birds Poster

A wonderful poster detailing 5 kinds of birds that nest in boxes. It would be a great gift for teachers, kids or birders..



5 Cavity-nesting Birds Posters
Price: 12.50

Cavity-Nesting Bird Poster. All the best-loved cavity-nesters are pictured on the front. Birdhouse tips, habitat needs, and other information is shown on the on back. Includes five copies.

The Sibley Guide to Birds of North America - $ 31.50
Sibley depicts and annotates 810 species, showing their stages, forms, shapes, colors, and markings. He describes each species' calls and provides a full-color range map showing migration routes as well as its summer, winter, and breeding locations.

Bird Field Guides

Singing Alarm Clock - $ 34.44
The Desk & Alarm Clock has its own special card: Beautiful BirdSongs, a selection of the 9 most beautiful bird songs from our collection. The alarm will awaken you to the gentle serenade of beautiful bird songs every morning.

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Carolina Wren's Nest is on Isle of Squid

Isle of Squid

A Directory of the Best Squidoo Lenses

Carolina Wren's Nest has been added to the Isle of Squid website.

Please take time to submit a review about Carolina Wren's Nest .

Tell us about your experiences with Carolina Wrens.

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on July 01, 2018:

Cindy,

Carolina wrens love porches and old flower pots. The female lays 1 egg a day. When they have 4-6 she starts to brood. If it is too busy by your back door, they will find another place. If not, by now you may have tiny babies in the nest and the feeding frenzy begins.

Cindy on June 12, 2018:

We had a pair of wrens build a nest in an old flower pot just inches from our back door which is heavily used by our family. It is not feasible for us to discontinue use of the door. My concern is that we may be harming the birds. They disappeared for a couple of days but today I noticed a single egg. The birds still have not been spotted. Are we to assume it was abandoned or can we expect the parents to return. I'm all about giving wildlife a chance. We do feed the birds and have houses all over the yard but yet they chose our screened in back porch with an old flower pot.

amy-townson-9 on January 06, 2014:

We have a single Carolina wren that lives on a ledge under our carport. It is going to be 11degrees tonight with a windchill below 0. This is when I decided to make my husband bring him inside because I was worried he would not make it through this cold. He never builds a nest he just buries himself in the corner of this ledge. I love to watch him so I couldn't bear to leave him out in this bitter cold and him not make it. Going to get suet in the morning and some crickets also. When it warms up a little I will release him. My husband dutifully built him a cozy house and he seems quite content

anonymous on July 24, 2013:

Never even heard of these birds until I stuck a big empty box (like you'd get at a store like Aldi to carry your food out, since they don't use plastic bags) out on my front porch swing. It's the funniest thing. The female laid 5 eggs. It's hard to tell how many of them hatched 4 days ago, but I can definitely see 3. They're so adorable and I love watching the female and male feed them (as their nest is RIGHT outside my living room window.) Can't wait to see them get bigger and fatter!

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on March 27, 2013:

@anonymous: If the chicks are about a week old, then they should have some pin feathers covering their body. Once the chicks have a covering to keep them warm, the mother doesn't have to brood constantly. The chick also require more food, so the parents must hunt for longer periods of time. From now until the babies fledge, the parents will zip back and forth dropping food off and heading out for more.

anonymous on March 27, 2013:

@anonymous: My birds are about seven days old. Maybe older or younger. But the parents have been gone for a few hours. I am worried because this family of wrens have returned every year for about ten. I also am worried, I hope they did not abandon the chicks. They built their nest up in a shelf in the garage where my family continues to walk by. They don't mind us, but I maybe they decided they did.

anonymous on July 17, 2012:

Had carolina wrens build a nest under my pool propane tank lid. Watched the eggs for about two weeks and thought the birds only hatched last week. Watched daily mom and dad flying in and singing on the fence to feed the birds up until yesterday late afternoon. This morning there was no wren singing or any sign of mom or dad and when I checked the nest it was empty. Is it normal when they fledge to totally leave?

sagarcia01 on July 08, 2012:

We live in a small city and have the only garden on the block. We call the Carolina Family the "Gang of Four." Right now Mom and Dad are still teaching the little ones. They use my hanging baskets for flight practice. Last year the pair used one of my huge hanging begonia baskets for their nest. Every time I went out on the porch the pair dive bombed and sassed me. Love watching their antics!

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on June 30, 2012:

@anonymous: Usually CAWR's will not reuse a nest in the same breeding season, but will often come back and tidy up a nest and raise young in the same place the next year.

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on June 16, 2012:

@anonymous: Three feet off the ground is not high enough to keep predators away and cats would not be bothered by the window. You could put some fencing around the window box & a/c unit, that the wrens could get through, but predators couldn't. But the wrens might be frightened away and abandon the nest while you were setting it up. Tough decision.

anonymous on June 10, 2012:

Hello, I have a pair nesting in my Plastic flower box which only sits on an air conditionare. I find myself alwaqys looking to see what they are up to. They often yell at me as I sit on my patio only about 3-4 feet away. The flower box is only 3 foot oof ground. Right now eggs are in nest. Should I consider some protection to put over nest area for when the young arrive ? to combat stray cats, racoons etc ? or being up and close to window should be fine ?

Thank You....

anonymous on June 10, 2012:

Will reuse a nest after their brood fledged?

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on June 07, 2012:

@anonymous: Is your birdhouse the kind that has a door so that you can look in? If so, have you looked at the babies? It's not good to frighten babies that are so close to fledging, but if you are positive that the parents have not visited the nest since yesterday, then put your hand over the hole or put a sock in the hole and check to see the condition of the babies.

It is possible that something happened to the parents. If the babies appear to be in distress, then you should contact a wildlife rehabilitator. I hope that this will not be necessary because Carolina Wrens are primarily insect eaters so they require a special diet.

Hopefully the parents were just in and out so fast, that you didn't notice them.

anonymous on June 07, 2012:

@naturegirl7s: Thanks, still no parents, but lots of chirping inside the birdhouse. Should I be concerned that they are not being fed?

anonymous on June 07, 2012:

@anonymous: Thought I'd let you know that my babies fledged a couple of days later and we got to watch them leave the nest. It was wonderful! BOTH babies survived!

Here's the video. The first baby is already on the top of the nesting box when the second one comes out. It's the first time we realize that they both survived. Very happy here!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0jFdFgcW8E&amp...

anonymous on June 07, 2012:

I have a pair of Carolina wrens living and raising a brood in a flowers basket on my front porch, they seem to fly in every few minutes with little green caterpillars,to feed the wrenlets, I went out to water my hanging basket the other day and got a right telling off, because i was to close to her basket so I am staying away till evening when they fly in to rest, its fascinating to watch, I feel so privileged.

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on June 07, 2012:

@anonymous: Linda,

You said that you've been watching them feed the babies for a couple of weeks. Carolina Wren young fledge when they are from 12-14 days old. It sounds like the parents are withholding food so that the chicks will follow them out of the nest. They should leave the nest today and be off on the great adventure of learning to feed themselves.

anonymous on June 07, 2012:

I need some help, not sure what to do, for a couple weeks I have a pair of wrens feeding their young (nested in a bird house on the front porch). I have watched them every day for a week or so. Yesterday, I heard the babies screaming but no mother or father, I watch for them all day and never saw the parents. I got up early this morning and have watched for hours no parents but screaming babies. What can I do, I hate to let them die.

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on June 04, 2012:

@anonymous: Thank you for the wonderful comment and for caring about these little insect eating birds. You are a real trooper to play doorman for the pair. I'm glad you are enjoying the live reality show, "Wren TV". :D

anonymous on June 04, 2012:

I have a screened-in front porch and about a month ago or so, I noticed a little bird flying around inside. Because the front door to the porch doesnât always shut tight and leaves a two or three inch opening, I had assumed he had gotten in and couldnât find how to get out (which has happened with birds before). I propped the door wide open and hoped heâd find his way out. Later that day I noticed he was back and wasnât alone. There were two of them and they were bringing nesting materials to a hanging plant on the porch. They would fly down to the stoop by the door then hop thru the opening and fly up to the hanging plant.

I immediately came online to find out more about these little birds and found out they were Carolina Wrens. Thanks to your site I have learned a great deal about these little birds. I was initially surprised that they would choose a hanging plant INSIDE a screened-in porch to make a nest, but after reading more about them on your site I see that it is not all that unusual for these birds. They seem to be brave little critters. This was evident the day I left the front door to the house open and one decided to fly into my house. I finally got him out and now I make sure to keep the front door to the house closed. They are welcome to stay on my front porch, but the inside of the house itself is off limits lol.

Anyway, itâs been a pain having to get up and open the porch door a crack to let them in and out each morning (around 5:30 or 6am), but itâs worth it, as now there are at least 2 (I have only seen 2, but I think there are more) baby wrens in the nest. I have to admit, I enjoy watching the industrious little parents bringing grubs and such to feed their babies all day long and Iâm glad they chose my porch for their home. Thank you for all the great info on these birds. Nice site.

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on June 03, 2012:

@anonymous: Job well done. When the babies fledge, they should be fine as long as the mother and father continue to care for them.

Blue Jays will attack nests of smaller birds and eat the eggs and/or young. We throw the chicken egg shells in the compost. I read somewhere that if the Blue Jays have a ready source of calcium, that they will not bother other birds' nests as much. It's worth a try to it adds minerals and helps to neutralize the acidity of leaves and pine needles in the compost.

anonymous on June 03, 2012:

@anonymous: You are so nice to have done this. God bless!

anonymous on June 03, 2012:

We have a pair of Carolina Wrens who come back each year and nest in our Hanging Basket right outside of our office patio doors (my husband works from home).

We've been listening to the babies get increasingly LOUD over the past week or so and then on Saturday we witnessed in horror as the nest was attacked by a Blue Jay. It was horrible! We scared him off and hoped for the best. It happened repeatedly over the course of the day and we were beside ourselves.

We contacted a wildlife rehabilitator and she said that the babies would be fine if we moved them so I went to the pet store and purchased a nesting box and some hay. We made a makeshift nest (it was getting dark and we were in a hurry) and I lined it with some 100% wool felt (I had a wool babyhat I accidentally washed one time... lol).. and my husband went to move the babies. The nest was totally exposed now having had the top ripped off by the Blue Jay and the first baby looked dead. My husband tried to pull it out of the way when it started moving so we popped it into the nest. We were certain at least one of them had died. The second one didn't move much, but it was still alive and could have been playing possum, so to speak!

The next day they were horribly quiet. Mum and Dad were still feeding them, but not very often. They went from chirping CONSTANTLY and LOUDLY to no sound at all.

Anyway, over the course of the weekend the feedings have picked up, the noise and picked up and we're seeing a little mouth at the entrance to the nest.

Mum and Dad seem totally unfazed by the moving of the nest and they are much much safer now from that pesky Blue Jay. I'm a little concerned as to how they'll survive after they fledge, but we've done the best we can. It's over to Mum and Dad now.

I love my Blue Jays, and you can intervene and help. I know it's just nature etc. but if your child was sick and getting hurt you'd take help, so I figure these little guys deserve no less from me!

anonymous on May 31, 2012:

Thanks for the quick reply. I will clear the part of the nest that is on the deck and leave the nest in the hanging basket. We are supposed to maybe have some bad weather tonight. The hanging basket is shaded by an umbrella that I put up. I think because I have a suet feeder and hummingbird feeder on the deck that it might attract the raccoon even though I take them in when it gets dark. There was no sign of egg shells or even a trace of the mama, I hope she got away. Maybe I need to move the other feeders though I don't like to move the hummingbird feeder as they are used to it being there, thanks anyway for your advice.

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on May 31, 2012:

@anonymous: I'm sorry about the nest being destroyed. It does sound like a raccoon. If I were you, I'd clear the nest off of the railing and leave the hanging basket up, if there is a plant in it. More than likely, that pair will not nest there again. Most birds will not go back to a nesting site that has been attacked. However the Carolina Wrens may build another nest somewhere near by, if the mother was not injured. I'm hoping for the best.

anonymous on May 31, 2012:

I had Carolina wrens that built a nest in my hanging basket on my deck. I also had a suet feeder and hummingbird feeder near by that I brought in every night. This morning part of the nest was resting on the wooden railing near the nest, the 6 eggs were all gone, no sign of the mother. I think it must have been a raccoon as it drank the water out of the water container that was above the hummingbird feeder. Should I just remove the hanging basket or remove what is left of the nest. I don't want them to nest there again as I don't want this to happen again. How long should I leave the partial nest up or leave what was put on the wooden railing on the deck?.

mary-coppingertaylor on May 09, 2012:

This is the second year for wrens. Last year they nested in our boat hitch. One day I was sitting outside watching the parents feed them. I was very fortunate to witness the parents coax them out to fledge. This was the neatest thing, they squawed at them telling them its time. And they jumped out to fly all at one time. This year they nested in a wren house. Unfortunately the babies (which were about to fledge )were attacked by a snake. The snake was found inside the house with some of it hanging out the side. This was a very big snake--5 feet long after we got in out of the house.

anonymous on April 29, 2012:

We have 5 little nestlings in my mailbox and have been watching eagerly as the parents care for them. We thought the nest was empty, but one day when we went outside we saw the mama fly out in a hurry and heard little high-pitched squealing from inside. I'm going to hang a suet feeder today in hopes of encouraging the wrens to stick around our house for a long time to come!

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on April 21, 2012: