Birdhouses 101 - Carolina Wren

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Carolina Wren

About The Carolina Wren

Carolina WrenThe Carolina wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus, is mostly brown with a light yellowish-beige belly. It has large white stripe over each eye like an over-extended eyebrow and has a white throat. Its wings and tail are barred with black and it has thin white bars on its wings. Its legs are pink. Carolina wrens have long tails which they hold upright frequently especially when perched. The adult wren’s average length is 5 to 6 inches and it stands at approximately 4 inches in height. Carolina wrens of different sexes look similar with the males only slightly larger in size.
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The Carolina Wren Nesting Preferences

Carolina wrens are not picky about where they nest. Although they usually build nests on shrubs and vines they are also known to nest on tree stumps, brush piles, evergreen branches, boxes, mail boxes, tin cans, on beams, crevices, bird houses, window sills, and hanging plants. Male Carolina wrens also sometimes make several nests even though only one is used in the same area. It is said that they do this to confuse predators as to where the eggs really are. Carolina wren nests are made of sticks, grass, leaves, moss, pine needles, bark strips, feathers, string, and other bits of trash, and are lined with much finer grasses and hair. The nests, which are dome-shaped, look bulky. The entrance to the nest can be found on its side.
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Building a Birdhouse For The Carolina Wren

Carolina WrenCarolina wrens nest on both birdhouses and platforms. The recommended dimensions for a birdhouse are: 4” x 4” (floor), 8” (ceiling height), 1˝ “ (entrance hole diameter), 6” (distance from floor to hole top). Ventilation holes should be placed on the floor and under the roof. Use hinged roof for easier access inside the birdhouse.

Since Carolina wrens usually build several nests it is a good idea to make several birdhouses mounted in different places and of varying height. You can also make use of several platforms also of varying floor dimensions and mounting height.
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The Carolina Wren Mating Habits

Carolina wrens pair for life. They bond at any time of the year and stay on their territory the whole year round where they forage for food, breed, and simply live together until one of them dies. It is only when one of the pair dies that the remaining bird finds another partner.
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The Carolina Wren Feeding Preferences

Carolina WrenCarolina wrens get their food mostly by foraging on the ground or by creeping on tree branches where they search the crevices for food. The Carolina wren’s diet is made up mostly of insects. Carolina wrens, however, also eat seeds and berries although rather infrequently. It has been observed the wrens come freely to feeding stations placed near thickets and brush where they also eat everything from suet, ground peanuts, bone marrow, and even ground hamburg steak. Occasionally Carolina wrens have reportedly eaten lizards and small frogs.
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Interesting Carolina Wren Facts

The Carolina wren is sensitive to cold weather. Since they do not migrate and stay in one territory the northern populations of Carolina wrens decrease markedly after severe winters. However since the winter temperatures over the last century has been increasing, the Carolina wrens have expanded their range northward since the mid-1900s.
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Readers Comments

Add Your Comments

J. Gilbert  4/3/2007)
This is the most informative site yet. I would have liked to find out more about how to build houses from this site as well. However, you cant have everything, can you? We just wanted to know what is REALLY required when building nesting boxes for these cuties. We have plenty of raw materials just not the basic requrements to entice a nesting pair. Or, at least, make a lonely male, as we have in our maple tree, seem more attractive.

carolyn goslin  4/18/2007)
would like to know if they use the use the same nest after the first hatch or do you need to clean the house out after each hatch.Thank you,CDG

Pat Brittain  5/29/2007)
I have a pair of Carolina wrens nesting in a small plastic watering can hanging on a nail on the brick wall near the water faucet. Last night,I was filling the bird bath with the hose and the baby flew out of the can. He could barely fly and only made it to the bottom wrung on the picnic chair. It was dusk so I was afraid that he wouldnt make it through the night. I picked him up and put him back in the can. I know that he is still there because the parents are feeding him.

Anita Burnworth  6/5/2007)
A pair built their nest in a hanging pot of fushia on our back porch. At least five eggs. Shame on flew into the ceiling fan. A very sad day. However, the other one seems to be tending the nest. Wondering what the chances are of this being successful.

Barb Shanahan  6/6/2007)
In upstate New York. We have a pair of Carolina wrens setting up a nest in a hanging fuschia plant! The nest is a dome built right on the dirt within the plant. The female has just started laying; theres one egg in the nest now. Im worried that if I water the plant, it will chill the nestlings. But if I dont water the plant, the birds will lose their shelter when the plant dies! What should I do? Help!

Lee Dunn  6/14/2007)
I have a nesting Carolina Wren in a large geranium plant haning on the side of my outside porch. The male is around a lot and sings his lovely song to the tiny female who seems to be sitting on eggs, I have seen him flying in and out of the plant....the foliage is thick and I cannot see the mother or if there are eggs but think there are...we live in Massachusetts, this seems to be pretty far North for this tiny bird....they are the first I have ever seen.

B B  6/26/2007)
Same as another entry, we have a nest in our geranium plant and we also live in MA. I didnt realize there was a nest in the plant and when I went to take off some of the dead flowers this AM, an adult flew out and was very upset. I left the plant alone after that, But, now its hours later. I dont know that the adult has come back for the four eggs in the plant. The problem is that we cant see the nest from inside the house. So, Im wondering if the adult is flying away each time weve opened the front door today, or if he/she abandoned the nest because of my activity. (I didnt touch the nest, but Im worried about the eggs.) We love the wrens and their songs around our house. This site seems great. But, does anyone have any advice on what we could do with the eggs if theyve been abandoned? Advance thanks, b

B Goodwin  7/17/2007)
When I realized that I had a Carolina wren nesting in my hanging geranium plant I misted the leaves instead of watering. Make sure you mist the under parts of the leaves as well as the tops. Both plant and bird did very well! Please turn off any overhead ceiling fans. If you have a cat please monitor him/her carefully. I kept mine inside for 2 days when the baby fledged. We only had one baby. Both male and female were very attentive parents!

Tina    10/9/2007)
To water the pots with nests already in them,...set the pot in a container FULL of water, so the roots can drink. Do this as close to the original place, so that the parent birds dont think the nest is gone. Afterwards, just hang the pot back where it belongs

Ken Trajanowski  5/1/2008)
So far this site has the most comprehensive info on the Carolina Wren that Ive found.I have a pair building a nest in one of my birdhouses which you can watch and listen live at

Barbara Burfiend  5/7/2008)
Should the nest be cleaned out after the first nesting of the season? Thank You.

Jennifer Bennet  5/13/2008)
What do you do when the Carolina wren leaves the nest with the bird eggs still in it? Can I do something to help hatch them?

Danielle   5/25/2016)
We have a pair of carolina wrens, last summer they made their home next to our garage in our old grill.We put it over there because we had a tornado and it was beat up,the nest was amazing and i believe we had 5 babies. We just happened to be outside the day they left the nest.Now this winter it seems we only really see one. But just a few days ago we happened to look in the grill, and there is a bird fixing up the nest, and it's all clean in there and ready to go .

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