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Liz Stanley | profile | all galleries >> Wren Guard tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Wren Guard

I get a lot of questions about wren guards. House wrens are cavity nesters like chickadees and bluebirds. They are native birds, but very aggressive and territorial. They will build dummy nests in any available cavity they find, which is easily recognizable from the huge number of twigs they stuff in the space. The problem for other birds is that the wren will enter the nest of a chickadee or bluebird, and peck the eggs or even young nestlings. Unlike house sparrows, they can't kill the adults, and once the chicks are about 7-10 days old, the wrens can't harm them. Since they are native, they can't be managed in the same way as the invasive house sparrow. So, an easy and effective strategy is to put a wren guard on the nest box.

The purpose of a wren guard is to obscure the view of the entrance from the wren, while allowing the nest box occupant (bluebird, chickadee, etc.) to find it. I live in a suburb of the Twin Cities where there are plenty of house wrens, and I've had success with chickadee and bluebird nests in my back yard. A wren guard doesn't have to be complicated at all. I make mine with cardboard, duct tape, and a small metal bracket to hold the shape. See the photos below. A couple of very important things to remember:

See more information about Discouraging House Wrens at sialis.org. Also, if you are having problems with house sparrows, try using a sparrow spooker. You can buy one or build one yourself. Or, if you are up for it, a sparrow trap.

Click on each photo to get details about that step. If you're like me and have lots of cardboard laying around, this takes about 5 minutes to put together. It will hold up fine in the rain, because it's not on the box all that long.

"I don't believe in a lot of things, but I do believe in duct tape" - Miles Straume (Lost)
Wren guard step 1
Wren guard step 1
Wren guard step 2
Wren guard step 2
Wren guard installed - side view
Wren guard installed - side view
Wren guard installed - front view
Wren guard installed - front view
Wren guard modification - side panel
Wren guard modification - side panel
Chickadee at nest box
Chickadee at nest box
Chickadee hole reducer
Chickadee hole reducer
Chickadee wren guard
Chickadee wren guard
Chickadee nest
Chickadee nest
Chickadee chicks
Chickadee chicks
Success!
Success!