How to Get Birds to Nest in Your Yard
Several families of wrens have nested in our yard every year for as long as I can remember. They usually prefer bird houses and often build more than one nest. They build decoy or 'fake' nests to mislead predators. The average size bird house that you find at garden shops or at art fairs seem to do quite nicely.
I've purchased bird houses over the years and have found that ceramic houses work best. Wood ones decay and sometimes require painting or sealing. However, our wrens seem to prefer natural, dried birdhouse gourds. You can grow these or purchase them on line or at farmers' markets.
The houses should be at least four feet off the ground. They should also be placed near a tree or shrub as the baby birds need a place to practice flying and landing and also protection from those pesky predators, i.e. hawks,cats,snakes.
I have bird houses all over the place, and they all seem to have occupants or fake nests in them all summer. I have one hanging in the thick of a wisteria vine, two on metal shepherds hooks (sold in garden shops), one is hanging from a branch in a white pine tree, one from a large lilac bush, and two from the lower branches of maple trees. I place the houses near or in my veggie garden and flower beds, as wrens eat insects and keep those pests to a minimum. I used to have problems with cabbage worms, but once the wrens moved in those problems were solved. I also have a decorative ceramic house on the cement ledge right outside our bedroom window. This was not the best choice as baby wrens are very vocal and even though a wren's song is lovely, it's not so great when they start singing at dawn on Sunday.
Place the bird houses near a water source or place a birdbath near the bird house. Fresh water is very important.
Growing bird food is much better than buying it. Plant a few berry bushes nearby - but be sure to keep raspberries in check or they'll take over your world. I also have a lot of plants that produce seeds in the fall - Sunflowers, Bee Balm, Perennial Phlox all provide plenty of food well into the winter. Also heritage roses produce rose hips for birds. Birds will also repay you by eating pesky insects that attack your veggie garden.
Wren's don't seem to mind people being around their homes, as long as you don't hang around too close for too long. Our wrens yell at us if we get to close!
We have robins nests and cardinals as well, and we only have one third of an acre. I counted three wren families, two robins' nests and at least two cardinal families on our property this year. I love the wrens the best, however, and hope this article helps you welcome wrens to your garden too!
Photo: Sometimes other critters move into bird houses, but they are helpful to your garden too!
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"Wren's House" watercolor by Pat Merewether
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