Yvonne has been photographing and studying birds for 40+ years. She maintains bird and butterfly gardens in her Louisiana backyard habitat.
Carolina Wrens: The Farmer's Friend
Carolina Wrens will build a nest in just about any cavity, natural or man-made. They are perky, little cinnamon-brown birds with a loud voice and eat thousands of insects each year. They can be found in the north, but do better where winters are not so cold.
Pairs mate for life and will usually remain together all year long. They can raise as many as four broods a year here in Louisiana. When they are raising young, more insects are devoured. Unlike their cousin the House Wren, they get along well with other cavity-nesting birds like Bluebirds, Prothonotary Warblers, and others.
We've taken many pictures of the adult wrens as well as their nests and babies. This page is about their nesting habits, their young, and their value to the gardener or anyone who raises their own food.
Quirky Nesting Sites of Carolina Wrens
Building Nests in Unusual Places
Next to Prothonotary Warblers, Carolina Wrens should get the prize for creative choices in nesting sites. They can make any cavity work and have been known to nest in everything from motorcycle and bicycle helmets to the vents of boats and everywhere in between.
Of course, they will nest in normal places like birdhouses and tree cavities, but they seem to prefer places around buildings, homes, and other man-made structures.
Here's a quick list of some of the odd places that we know of:
- Cinder blocks
- Plastic bowls
- Hanging baskets
- Bicycle helmets
- Motorcycle helmets
- Christmas wreaths
- Potting bench shelf
- Open eaves of a house
- Spare tire on the back of the van
- Roll of carpet in the outbuilding
- The pocket of clothes hanging on the line
- Flower pots
- Topsy turvy tomato planter
- Large tin cans in a garage
- Vents on a boat
Nesting in a Potted Plant
Eggs, Babies, and Fledglings
The male wren builds many "dummy" nests in different places in the pair's territory. The female inspects each and chooses one and finishes it. She lays 4–7 brown, speckled eggs in the dome-shaped nest. She incubates the eggs for 12 to 16 days.
When the chicks hatch, they have no feathers, only a little fuzz and are blind and helpless. They grow quickly because both parents take care of the young, making hundreds of trips back and forth to the nest bringing tasty insects.
When the babies are 12 to 14 days old, they leave the nest. The parents still feed them, but within 2 weeks, the pair has normally started building another nest.
About Insectivores and a DIY Suet Recipe
Unlike the Northern Cardinal, Carolina Wrens don't have bright, striking coloration. Both males and females are a pretty cinnamon-brown with a buffy underside. What they lack in looks they make up for in insect-eating ability. They eat primarily members of the Hymenoptera family which includes sawflies, wasps, bees, and ants. I've also seen them eat crickets and grasshoppers.
They enjoy suet all year round, but especially in the winter and early spring. Down here where it is hot and humid, we make a "no drip" suet from equal parts of wet ingredients and dry.
Here's Our "No Drip" Suet Recipe:
- 2 cups animal lard
- 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 wheat germ or shelled sunflower seeds
Don't substitute vegetable shortening; they need the real, high cholesterol, old-fashioned lard made from animal fat.
- Mix it all together and press into a pan lined with wax paper.
- Put it in the refrigerator or freezer to harden some.
- Cut into blocks to fit your feeder. The rest can be stored wrapped in the wax paper in a Ziplock bag in the freezer.
Both the male and the female feed the young. Most male wrens are excellent fathers. I have observed a male singing in the Mimosa tree after bringing food to the nest. When insects are in short supply, the parents often feed the young suet.
Songs and Calls of the Carolina Wren
You usually know when the Carolina Wrens are in the area. The males love to sing, and the females are constantly vocalizing. For their size, Carolina Wrens can sing exceptionally loud. If you weren't watching this small, brown bird sing, you wouldn't believe that the blasting song could have come from him.
They are also one of the first birds to send up the alarm when a predator is in the area. Then they will keep fussing even after all the other birds have gathered around.
More About Nesting Birds
- The Cardinal's Nest
Every bird watcher and most children recognize the male Northern Cardinal, a Christmas symbol, but many people know nothing about its nesting and courtship
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: My little wrens have left the nest and are foraging around in some bushes by my yard. I went to look in the nest and found one out or four dead. Is that normal? Do they leave early if one dies?
Answer: The young leave the nest when they are mature enough to survive. The dead one was probably the youngest/ smallest baby and was not strong enough to survive. This is normal.
Question: We had a Carolina Wren nest in our outdoor recycling bin. There were five eggs, four of the babies have flown away. The fifth baby died yesterday, I think the parents keep returning and calling for it. When will these Carolina Wrens stop returning for the baby?
Answer: The parents will stop returning soon. Four out of five fledglings is wonderful. The last one was probably the youngest and smallest. The mother starts incubation when the next to last egg is laid.
Question: One of the breeding pair of wrens was killed by a cat. It’s knocked down the best also. ( motorcycle helmet) we put the nest back up and spotted one parent sat watching us. We are hoping that it still comes back and can takes care of the babies. Will it abandon the nest since it’s mate was killed?
Answer: If the cat is still a problem then the remaining parent may abandon the nest. If not, then there is a good chance that it will continue to feed the young.
Question: Once Carolina Wren babies begin learning how to fly, will they return to the nest?
Answer: No, the babies will not return to the nest once they learn to fly. They will follow their parents (usually the male for the first two broods) around learning how to find food and keep away from predators.
Question: I have 4 baby Wren in a pail in my garage. They are around 7 days old. We have not seen the mother in a day and a half. Is this normal?
Answer: These wrens can scoot in and out of the nest quickly especially when feeding young. It's not uncommon to miss seeing the adults.
Question: What happens to the eggs of abandoned nests?
Answer: The eggs of abandoned nests will remain there until the nest falls apart or a predator eats them.
Question: There is one dead egg in my Carolina Wrens nest. Should I remove this dead Carolina Wren egg?
Answer: If the babies are still in the nest, let the parents take care of any eggs that didn't hatch. If the young have fledged, then the parents have finished with the nest. They often leave unhatched eggs in used nests.
Question: Do Carolina Wren parents remove the waste product of the babies?
Answer: Yes, parents remove the "poop sac" of the young after they bring food. They dump it far away from the nesting site.
Question: Why would a pair of Carolina wrens abandon a nest with two healthy chicks in it? Two days ago they were feeding the chicks and have not done so since. The Chicks are still alive.
Answer: Something could have happened to one or both of the parents. If the chicks are healthy, that is the only reason I can think of for them to suddenly stop feeding them.
Question: I believe that the two baby Carolina Wrens in our nest, who were alive just yesterday, or at least one of them was, are now both dead. The mother and father keep coming to the nest box and looking in, but never have food, so they must know the babies are dead. What should I do?
Answer: The parents will probably build another nest somewhere else and try again. Many things can cause death in young chicks: cool weather, ants, house sparrows, poison on the insects the parents brought, and snakes. It's also best not to check a nest too often. You could remove the little dead bodies and check the box for ants or other problems.
Question: One of the pair of Carolina Wrens died. Will the other one seek a new mate?
Answer: Carolina wrens mate for life, but if the surviving one is healthy he/she will probably seek a new mate.
Question: We had 3 baby wrens in a nest and today they all left and were hopping around the backyard and learning to fly. I left for a few hours and 2 of the 3 are dead! They just looked like they fell over and died. I don’t understand what happened. They seemed fine and fluttering around when I left. What could make them just die? I hear the 3rd one cheaping with the mom answering. Nothing attacked the babies. Why?
Answer: That's a tough one. The only thing I can think of is that was some sort or toxin (herbicide, pesticide, etc) in the lawn and yard.
Question: Will Carolina Wren babies know how to get out of my bbq or do I need to open it?
Answer: The parents found a way into the barbeque. They should show the babies how to get out.
Question: There has been no mamma or papa all day with 4 babies in the nest. Will the parent Carolina Wrens come back to take care of the chicks?
Answer: With four mouths to feed, the parents have to move quickly. It's easy to miss them as the feed and fly to find more food.
Question: Carolina wrens built a nest in my nesting box but did not use it should I remove the nest?
Answer: They may still come back later and use it. The male builds many nests each season and the female chooses the ones to nest in. Carolina wrens can nest 3-4 times a season. I'd wait until fall to remove it, just in case.
Question: The Wren chicks left the nest in the last couple of days. The nest is in an active flower pot in my back yard. I need to add soil and fertilize. Should I leave the nest in place or remove it?
Answer: Now that the babies have fledged, you can add soil and fertilize the flower pot. Congratulations on a successful nesting.
Question: I keep finding the wren nest with 3 babies about a week old on the ground below the eaves it was built in. I have put it back twice today. The babies are alive and the parents return to feed each time. Any idea why this might be happening?
Answer: Perhaps it is not anchored well in the eaves or maybe a rodent of some kind is removing it.
Question: Will a Wren reuse the same nest again?
Answer: In my yard, they usually build a new nest each time. It's normally not far away from the first, though.
Question: Will Carolina Wrens return to a nest in a flower container with one egg that got rained in?
Answer: If there is only 1 egg, then the mother has not finished laying. She doesn't start brooding until the next to last egg is laid.
Question: There is a nest in an old hanging pot on our patio. We noticed the wren pair a month or two ago and noticed the male bringing food for the last two weeks. We thought maybe he was bringing the female food while she sits on the eggs. Three days ago we heard babies and now today everyone is gone...the nest is empty. Is there a chance that they have moved their babies? I can't imagine that they were old enough to leave the nest, unless they hatched sooner than we thought and maybe they are quiet?
Answer: It sounds like they did hatch sooner than you thought. The male was bringing food to the young. The babies are very quiet for the first week.
Question: I mistook a Carolina Wren fledgling for a fallen baby bird on the ground and returned it to its nest. Unfortunately this was just after sunset. Will the parents return in the morning or have I ruined it’s chance of survival?
Answer: The parents probably watched you put the baby bird back. Hopefully the little family will be reunited.
Question: Yesterday, the last two baby wrens left the nest and were on my front porch. One then disappeared but the other stayed, calling the parents. The parents have always been very attentive, but they never came back. The wrens looked healthy although they had very short tails. Then the rains came. And I have worried ever since. Saw both parents today looking around the porch. Don't know why they are looking now, but ignored them yesterday. Is this unusual?
Answer: Every thing you describe is normal. All the young do not leave the nest at the same instant. The parents round the babies up and keep them together once they jump out. As the young birds get stronger you may see them chasing the parents around, begging for food.
Question: How do I tell if a baby Carolina wren is a boy or a girl?
Answer: I don't think a laymen can. The only way I can tell male and female adult Carolina wrens apart is that the male sings. They are identical in color.
Question: I have watched daddy Carolina Wren bring food all week to momma sitting in a nest in my flower pot. I have not seen the daddy in almost two days, but mom is still there. Is it common for the dad to desert the mom?
Answer: Hopefully, he's still around, and perhaps he's visiting at different times or less frequently. Of course, there is always the possibility that he was killed or injured by a predator. The eggs should be hatching soon. If he is around you will be seeing a lot of both parents feeding the young.
Question: I have a Carolina Wren's nest on my deck, on a shelf, in an old candle holder lantern, next to my door. There are four maybe five fledglings in the nest, doing quite well. I have a cat and am concerned about when they start to try and fly. I keep the cat in the house during the day and let him out at night. I live in the country. Can I move the nest, how far, and will the parents continue to care for them?
Answer: If you move the nest the parents will probably abandon it. I would leave the cat inside day and night until the young leave the nest.
Question: I have a small opening where my weather stripping is gone at the bottom of my garage door. Some wrens have built a nest on a shelf inside and the eggs have hatched. Do I need to keep one of my cars out of the garage? Should I or when should I leave the door open for them to be able to fly?
Answer: The parents don't seem to have trouble going in and out but as the young get close to fledging, cracking the garage door during the day will help.
Question: Can I move the Carolina Wren nest when the fledglings are one week old?
Answer: I wouldn't disturb the nest by moving it. The parents will probably abandon it and the young will die. It won't be long before they will leave the nest on their own. I would wait.
Question: There is a wren nest next to my front door. Three days after the eggs hatched, the nest is completely empty. Can Wren parents relocate hatchlings? or should I suspect something more sinister?
Answer: Definitely something more sinister... probably a predator got them.
Question: I’ve found an egg just outside the nest completely intact can I put it back inside?
Answer: Yes, but don't be surprised if you find it outside the nest again.
Question: We have been outside near our porch where our Carolina wrens are nesting. I noticed there were egg shells below the nest. How long can the babies go without food?
Answer: The parents usually take the egg shells far away from the nest. It could be that the nest was preyed upon, especially if the parents are nowhere to be seen.
Question: There’s a nest in my garage with 2 chicks in it. I went on vacation and when I came back I heard chirping. This morning I checked and can see two chicks laying with eyes closed and not moving. The mother just came in and was singing for 6 minutes or so. Is it possible the birds are dead? Do baby chicks sleep a lot?
Answer: The dad was the one singing. They both feed the young. When the babies are small they sleep alot, but wake up when a parent comes with food.
Question: I have a wren nest in one of my potted plants on my deck. One of the eggs fell out of the nest into the plant. Can I pick it up and put it back in the nest?
Question: My house wrens were hatching yesterday and today they are all gone, what could have happened?
Answer: Sadly, it sounds like a predator of some kind ate the young.
Question: There is a wren nest in a flower pot on a rack right outside my front door. It had 5 eggs laid in it. I went out of town for the night and the whole flower rack was turned over and the flower pot with the nest was on the ground. One of the eggs cracked but other 4 seem fine. Will the parents keep tending to the other eggs?
Answer: You could try to put it back together, but it's possible that a cat or another predator knocked the nest over. The parents may be leery of using the nest in that location.
Question: There is a Carolina Wren nest next to my window air conditioner. Will they be okay if I turn it on?
Answer: I had a pair of wrens build a nest and raise babies by a window unit, but we only used it during emergencies like hurricanes. If that's your only source of cool air, then use it. If the hot air doesn't blow out on the nest they should be okay.
© 2011 Yvonne L. B.
Tell us about your Carolina Wren nests or just leave a comment.
D+D on August 22, 2020:
We have a Carolina Wren nest in wall planter. Four eggs laid, but looks like only two hatched about six days ago. Parents are feeding them....fun to watch them zoom back and forth with food for babies! Today, day six, we do hear slight chirping in the nest. You mentioned the loud song of the male during this period, but we have not heard any wren songs nearby. Could he be gone and only the female is feeding the babies? Last question...the nest has a strong, foul oder. Could the failed eggs be the reason? Have seem parents removing egg shells, but still the oder remains. Could one of the eggs have hatched, the chick died and the body is still in the nest with the two living babies? Thank you for your website! Very helpful and informative!!
Deb on August 22, 2020:
I have a baby wren that is not developing enough feathers to fly. He left the nest when mama came back. Had to put the nest in a large cardboard box. Been feeding him canned dog food w/egg yolk and milk. He's not eating much now. Has flapped his wings but barely lifts off. Will he eat suet if I put it in the box? Mama still comes back to visit him and brings bugs, but only once or twice a day. What do I do?
Michelle on August 18, 2020:
momma wren i see her feeding her 4 babies and she is usually in her nest with them all night but she isn't they are all alone. They do not have enough feathers to fly yet and typically she isn't bothered by us. They are about a week old
steve brittain on August 09, 2020:
We experienced a pair of Carolina Wrens nesting in z blue bird box we put up on a brick wall just outside our den. The reflection on the glass would not allow the pair to see us.
Nesting went well, we enjoyed watching the feeding cycles.
We will miss the birds when the babies leave the nest.
Meg on August 02, 2020:
4 babies in a nest (in flower box) but found a dead wren on the deck this morning :(
Hopefully other parent still around but we haven’t seen an adult visit the nest in about 30 mins or more Probably a week from fledging. Should we let nature take its course or try to help the babies?
Elizabeth on July 29, 2020:
I have a wren nest in a flower pot on my patio railing. There are 3 babies that are likely at least one week old (maybe older) and mom and dad are still bringing bugs regularly. Last night two of them hopped out of the pot. the first one was able to sort of flail away from me, but I put it back in the nest so dogs wouldn't get it. the second one landed on the ground and was barely moving. This morning I see one is laying outside of the nest in the plant. It is still breathing, but I'm wondering if that means it is hurt. What should I do?
Diane on July 26, 2020:
Mom seems to have her mouth open all the time. Found 2 babies dead under the terra cotta nest earlier and another one dead this afternoon. Whats happening. I feel so bad for the mourner.
Linda Gonzenbach on July 21, 2020:
Not sure if babies are alive, the parent’s keep going to the nest with food but when I looked in the nest no babies moved, nest is in my hanging plant on my house. Is it also ok to water plant, I only water one side to try not to get nest wet
Sara Rivera on July 11, 2020:
I have a Carolina wren nesting in a teapot I hung up in my gazebo. She started incubation 7 days ago but when the male visits she leaves with him then comes back to her eggs after about 30min, Is this normal behavior, especially since she started incubating her eggs a week ago?
Vergie Opdycke on July 08, 2020:
A wren nest in our flower pot has 3 eggs. I haven't seen any more eggs or the adults for 2 days. What's up?
Ellis and Leta Coan on July 07, 2020:
We had a Carolina Wren build a nest in the cavity of our weed eater while the battery was charging inside the porch. We watched the family finish building the nest hatch the eggs, feed the babies, leave the nest. What a great experience
Renee on July 07, 2020:
I noticed a Carolina Wren building a nest in a flowerpot on our front porch. I also observed 2 wrens hopping around on the driveway near the same flowerpot, so I know they are a married couple. I very gingerly added water to the flowerpot, and I haven’t seen the birds since. The nest is still there, but empty. Have I scared them off? Can I entice them back somehow? I was so excited to have babies in my flowerpot to watch thru the window...
Sharon Guyer on July 06, 2020:
We had one Caroline wren baby born yesterday and 3 eggs still left. Today we do not see the baby but the 3 eggs are still there. What happened to the baby and do you think the eggs will still hatch.
Janet L on July 04, 2020:
I’ve never had a bird nest before that I know of. This year they made a nest in my flower pot. I see one not so little bird. I have no idea when they arrived so I don’t know what to expect. I hope it is ok. I guess nature will take care of it. Thanks for being so informative
Yolanda on July 03, 2020:
Hi, we have a nest in our porch babies were born yesterday it’s late at nite and mama is not in the nest it’s July 3rd and fireworks may have scared mama? She had not return to her babies.is this common ? Thank you
barbara zarret on June 18, 2020:
I have had a Carolina wren sitting on 5 eggs for about 3 weeks now. Isn't this unusual? It seems longer than it should be taking. She keeps coming back to sit on the eggs every day. Will they ever hatch?
Kim on June 17, 2020:
Hello if anyone is there! Wondering if anyone knows if an English Sparrow will overtake a Carolina wren nest without adding in their usual crap to "feather" the nest? I have a nest which is most certainly a wren's that I am pretty sure now has sparrow eggs in it as I have seen sparrow parents in and out of the nest area although I can't be sure they have actually come from inside the nest, at least not yet. The eggs look like sparrow, not with the usual chestnut brown spots. Spots are darker brown and sprinkled all over them. Just want to be very sure before I dismantle the nest. There is another wren nest in very close proximity with youngsters who are doing well and I would hate for these darn sparrows to do them any harm as I have seen what sparrows can do when they are ticked off and competing for nest spots. Thanks in advance for those who are helping! :)
Valerie on June 16, 2020:
We had 3 babies being fed by parents yesterday but today the nest is completely empty. Will the whole family leave? I didn’t think the babies were old enough to leave. They nested in a birdhouse .
Marjorie on June 12, 2020:
I have a Carolina wren nest outside my front door in a wreath. I think the babies are about to leave the nest. I’m worried they could fall to the concrete bellow and get injured. Can they fly right away or can I put a blanket or something below for padding?
Kathleen Riddle on June 05, 2020:
I am wondering about two baby Carolina Wrens in a nest in my garage. They are one week old today. We are frequently in our garage, my kids are out of school so they are in there a lot, and we have seen both mom and dad in the nest during the day and in the evenings. Although I am growing concerned because I have not seen the mom/dad in the nest at all in the last two days. I have seen them (assume its them) around my house and backyard but not in the nest. Its possible I'm missing them, but it seems though they spent much more time in the nest than they are now. Is this normal?
Shawn on May 23, 2020:
Do mother or father carolina wrens roost in the nest with baby wrens at night?
Beth Klein on May 21, 2020:
My mama wren left two chicks in the nest and three flew away. The remaining ones are smaller. Will mama come back to feed them? If not, is there anything I can do? They are peeping.
Jeanne on May 11, 2020:
My husband was too close taking pictures do you think he made the babies leave too soon.
Jane, N. Louisiana on May 07, 2020:
I have a Carolina wren nest in a plant by my front door. I did peep inside last week when the parents were away and saw the babies with their mouths open. I watch the parents flying in and out from the window. Today I thought I’d look at the nest again. The top was completely open and not a baby to be seen. Could they have fledged s our soon, and could the parents have pulled the top of the nest open? I have a neighbors cat who comes around. I hope that was not what happened. No sign of feathers or bodies on the ground.
Joe B on May 05, 2020:
We have a nest on our screened in back porch. The wrens found a small hole in the screen. We had four chicks until today. I found three of the four on the floor dead. One’s leg had been broken and was a bit mauled. The other two were dead but had no apparent marks. What could have killed them and not eaten them? A stray cat couldn’t fit through the hole in the screen. Would the male or possibly another bird have killed them?
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on May 05, 2020:
They should be able to climb on the nest and fly/ jump out when it's time to fledge. The parents will coax them out with food.
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on May 05, 2020:
The mother bird has a bare patch of skin on her breast where she places the newly hatched babies to keep them warm. The feathers around them provide insulation.
Taylor on April 20, 2020:
I have a cylindrical candle holder on my patio table. It is about 16 inches tall. A bird built a next in the BOTTOM of the holder. There are now baby birds in the next. My question is how will the babies be able fly up 16" to get out of the cylinder since they don't know how to fly? I worry that they will perish if I don't dump them out. Please advise.
Donna on April 19, 2020:
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Will a parent use their own feathers to keep newly hatched babies warm. We had a few nights of frost.
Jeffro on March 22, 2020:
Wrens built a nest in a wreath near the front door. Concrete is about 6 feet below do I need to worry about the babies when they decide to jump out
Valmichy on March 13, 2020:
I have a wren couple nesting in a large pot on my front porch. So exciting. They are still building the nest I think.
CBandK on July 19, 2019:
Hi Yvonne. I apologize for being all over the place. In my attempt to thank you and offer updated information on the family in my window box, I accidentally sent it before finishing. Thank you for easing my anxiety. I have tried everything possible to catch a glimpse of the babies from inside the house with no luck. The entry faces outward so all I see is the top of the nest. However, I am now seeing the parents fly in and out after spending even more time tending the gardens. My friend also reassured me that newborns sleep a lot their first week between feedings. Something I’d completely overlooked in my frantic thoughts after that first glimpse of the (sleepy) babies. I can’t thank you enough for this subject and your knowledge. And especially for responding so quickly. Most definitely easing my mind and heart. I’ve learned more here than any other searches online. I believe all is going perfectly with my new extended family.
CBandK on July 19, 2019:
I’m struggling with where to respond, I hope you, Yvonne, are able to follow me. I, first, wanted to thank you for helping to ease my anxiety about my apparently wrong conclusion. Second, I’ve all but stood on my head
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on July 18, 2019:
When it is warm outside mother wren will leave the babies unattended to search for food. They sleep a lot during the first week of life, but will awaken and beg for food when the parents land on the nest. Both male and female feed them and they go in and out so fast that it's easy to miss them. When they are tiny the noise is not loud. The older they get, the louder they get. Is there a way that you can see them through the window from inside the house? Things sound normal, but you could put your mind at ease that way. I have even "observed" using a game or wildlife camera placed on a tripod several feet away so as not to disturb the birds or attract predators. Good luck.
CBandK on July 17, 2019:
I have a nest of brand new Carolina Wren hatchlings in a window box. I’ve only checked it twice, the first time was accidentally when I believed it had been abandoned after not seeing the parents around after they finished building and I watered the plants in the box. I frightened the poor bird and she flew into my chest leaving, allowing me to see 5 tiny eggs. I’ve made a point of not scaring them again, not even watering those flowers, but after the allotted time for hatching and no noise coming from the nest, I checked today. The parents were not there and there are now babies, but there appears to be little if any movement and no sound. I’m afraid some may be dead and wondering if the parents would abandon new hatchlings? I didn’t look more than 30-45 seconds, but it appears unkempt and my heart would just break knowing there’s at least one living baby who may have been abandoned. Is this normal? I’m within sight of the nest off and on most of the day tending the my newly planted flower gardens and have not seen an adult since she/he flew into me. Again, I don’t check the nest for fear of scaring them. I know very little about these precious creatures except what my birdwatching friend has told me, part of which was I’ll know when they hatch because of the noise. Please someone tell me they’ll return? Is it common for both parents to leave them unattended? Any info is most appreciated.
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on July 08, 2019:
When the young Carolina wrens leave the nest (fledge) the parents will lead them to safe places to hide until their wings become stronger. They will continue to feed them. Soon the young birds will fly well to follow the parents around begging for food. Eventually they will teach them to find food on their own
Tiffny cranford on July 05, 2019:
I've had a nest in my wall with for Carolina wren babies they started flying today and one got caught in the sink and now I don't know what to do and I'm out of sync and you see my house what should I do
BPeachee from Bowling Green, Kentucky on June 23, 2019:
I have a pair of Carolina Wrens that built a nest in a candle lantern on a shelf, next to my side door, on my covered deck. When she laid the eggs, I was unsure she was sitting on them because she was never there, well, they hatched and now are a week old. There are four, maybe five fledglings. I have read up on the birds, and I am concerned about when they start to try to fly in about a week. I have a dog and a cat, and I am trying to figure out the safest way to go about helping the birds to survive. They are inside during the day and I let them out at night to do their business. Can I move the nest? How far? Will the parents find them and not reject them? I guess I’ll just keep monitoring the situation, and when they start to fly, at that point, the parents won’t reject them if I move the nest. I read they make another nest anyway.
BPeachee from Bowling Green, Kentucky on June 22, 2019:
I have a covered deck A Carolina Wren built a nest in an old candle lantern I had sitting on a shelf next to my side door. The fledglings are a week old. All is well, there are four. I have a cat and fear when they start to fly, it might not be good. I work during the day and he stays inside, but I let him out at night and he usually sits on my car. Can I move the nest? I live in the country and wonder if I can find a safer place, and how far could I put it so they can find it?
Christine Jackson on June 15, 2019:
My Carolina wrens nested in the loops of the garden hose (Tampa Floria). I use a short hose attached to the hose bib and a longer hose attached to that. So I cut off the short hose (trying to unscrew it would disturb the nest) to remove a way for snakes to get to the nest. I pulled out the liriope under the hose bib and put a smooth sided large planter with window screening on the top. The hose bib is over a hole cut into my wooden deck and "something" is living under the deck. So this was also to screen out snakes (I live on a wetland and have a resident black racer). I watch from my window to make sure the babies are being fed. The parents will perch on a chair and look in the window. There are four babies. When I don't see Mama (or papa) for a while, I go to my back screened in porch and yell, "Cheater cheater cheater" and pretty soon one of them shows up. My great neighbors already know I am sometimes weird. I only go out there once a day to see if all four babies are moving. I hope they live.
Deborah on June 11, 2019:
A pair of Carolina Wrens have built a nest in my front porch flower pot and we had 4 hatchlings as of 5 days ago. I have seen the parents coming and going but have not heard the hatchlings at all. Today both parents were distress calling on my front porch. I peeked at the hatchlings a few times today after the parents left and they are all curled up together not moving. How do you tell if they have died without touching them?
Dorothy cyr on May 31, 2019:
Babies have left the nest, hanging basket on patio, I enjoyed watching so much & listening to their chatter!
Cathy Baker on March 11, 2019:
Will Wrens return to a wet nest after rain? It has 1 egg in it so far
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on July 30, 2018:
Everything seems to be proceeding as usual. Dad is probably nearby, keeping an eye out for predators and feeding himself to prepare for the deluge of begging open mouths that will soon come when the babies hatch. Then you'll see both parents rushing back and forth with bugs to feed the hungry babies.
Sue68 on July 29, 2018:
I believe there are now 3-4 eggs in my Carolina Wren's nest (in my garage). Mom sits on the eggs a lot - not all the time - and I don't see dad around at all anymore. I suspect something happened to him, or surely he'd be around some, right? Moms been in the nest intermittently for about five days now. I wonder how it'll go if it's just her trying to feed her babies all by herself. She still seems highly tolerant of my sneak peeks, thank goodness!
Sue68 on July 20, 2018:
Three eggs today when I looked, but no parents around at all.. I wondered if maybe I'd scared then off - until tonight. Looks like she's back in the nest. I read she'll lay one egg a day until done, then stay and sit on them. Is this correct? Light is on, door is open!
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on July 20, 2018:
I would proceed with the garage light schedule as you normally do. They built the nest there and they don't seem to have a problem with it. Keeping the back door ajar nightly is a good idea so they can get out early to feed. Congratulations of the nest.
Sue68 on July 20, 2018:
Carolina Whens have built what I'd thought was a dummy nest on a high shelf in my (attached) garage. I'd watched them build it 3 weeks ago, and was rather disappointed when it seemed as though they'd abandoned it. I learned quickly the term "dummy nest". Then, a couple days ago, I spotted one (just one) coming in again, bringing only little bits of leaves to the nest. I crept up a stepstool last night with a flashlight to see if I had a guest. Sure enough, momma was in the nest, peeking back at me. I've since left her alone, and I'll be keeping the back door of the garage open at night for awhile, and everything open during the day. Should I keep the garage light on or off at night? Usually it's on until I go to bed, but it's about 4' from the nest, and attracts lots of June bugs, moths and other flying insects. I've lived here for over ten years, but this is a first.
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on July 01, 2018:
The parents should continue to feed the babies on the floor of the shed. Eventually, when the babies are strong enough to fly, the parents should show them the way out.
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on July 01, 2018:
Hopefully you rescued him in time. The babies leave the nest before they can fly well and hop around until they find a place to hide. The parents feed them and gradually they will get strong enough to fly.
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on July 01, 2018:
Carolina wrens will nest 2-3 times a year. They usuallly make a raspy warning call when they are bothered by something or someone. It's possible that the nest under the porch is a 2nd try and the female has not yet started laying. Just keep watching.
Mrs.Adkins on July 01, 2018:
I have a Carolina wren that keeps rasping annoyingly on my porch, the nest is in the eves of the porch roof. I never see two at the same time and the nest is empty. It's July 1st, is it still looking for a mate or has it lost one and lamenting? I thought there would have been babies by now.
Leslie on June 29, 2018:
Hello! I need help! I have a nest under my patio, today I came home and found one baby in my fountain he has furthers but unable to fly. before he drowned in my fountain I took him out and placed him back in the nest. Is he going to die? :(
Angie on June 24, 2018:
We have two or three Carolina Wrens that have nested in our shed in a flower pot. They are now jumping out of the flower pot onto the floor and fluttering and walking around. Do we continue to keep the door shut and let mom take care of getting them out. The only other way out is at the top of the shed, pretty far up? Not sure how to proceed?
Beth on May 03, 2018:
I have fledglings in a nest next to my window air conditioner. Will the be okay if I turn the unit on?
Estelle on June 28, 2017:
In the front grill of my Hummer. They even went to Walmart with me before I knew they were in there. Quit driving and they all fledged.
Lisactg on June 18, 2017:
One of my Carolina Wrens has just finished lining her nest...in a leftover piece of pink insulation on a shelf in my garage! They actually dug a tunnel in the side of the slab of insulation. They have to perform little act of acrobatics to fly into it each time. So amazing to watch!
Patty Cartier Smith on April 22, 2017:
I was blessed to have a wren build a nest in my pansies. She laid five eggs, but from what I could see there were four babies when hatched. Unfortunately, where the pansies were set upon a low wrought iron table. This did concern me, so I constantly checked either walking past from a distance or from my window. Yesterday morning, they were gone and there was a large hold in the rear of the next. I was/am heartbroken as most likely a snake or predator got them. What does the mamma wren do after an incident such as this? I live in Central Florida. I love wrens!
Tracey on June 23, 2015:
I have a nest in my hose reel that I use everyday for watering my flowers! 5 eggs - very funny looking nest:)
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on June 14, 2015:
If there are only 2 eggs, then she will probably lay 3-4 more.
Angela on June 12, 2015:
Found this wren in my husband disc golf bag in our shed. It found a hole in the roof and made a nest with two eggs!
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on May 21, 2015:
Perhaps something happened to one of the parents or maybe the death of the chicks was caused by some weather related catastrophe such as heavy rain or a drop in the temperature. When birds build nests so close to the ground many predators can reach them. I'm sorry your baby birds died. Hopefully the parents will build another nest but in a safer place.
Deborah on May 19, 2015:
A Carolina wren built a nest in my wheelbarrow and four of the five eggs hatched they lived about nine or ten days and then they died. The parents stopped feeding them and we tried to feed them but they died. Could being down in the wheelbarrow cause them to die? They chirped and hopped around that day. The next morning they were dead. Why would the parents stop feeding them?
martha on April 06, 2015:
C. wren built nest in flower pot very close to front door while I was out of town. If I move the flower pot to another area, say 5-6 feet away, will the wren find the nest again? I'm afraid wrens will leave this nest now because of traffic in and out of door. thanks to anyone who knows.
Karen on August 30, 2014:
The nest is in a house plant on the back porch. Will the babies come out of the nest and walk around in the plant or show any activity before they fly away? Thanks
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on August 29, 2014:
Karen, Congrats on the 4 eggs. The young will leave the nest about 2 weeks from hatching. As the babies grow, the parents will return to the nest with food more often. You will probably hear the babies begging for food before you see them.
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on August 29, 2014:
Kelly, Hopefully the male will follow the female's lead and figure it out. It's best to leave the birds where they are.
karen on August 29, 2014:
I saw 4 eggs in the nest and they have hatched. When do the babies start getting active. They are over a week old and have not seen them come out of the nest, nothing. I am not sure they are still alive
Kelly reeder on May 28, 2014:
We have a Carolina wrens nest in a squirrel proof bird feeder. There are at least four babies. The mama comes and goes into the nest fine, we have taped her feeding 3 times in 11 minutes. We are worried about the dad, he will bring food, but he tries to feed the babies through the glass. We think he can't figure out how to fly up and in through the 1-2 in space at top. He goes through all kinds of movement to try to feed, but he fails. Should we be concerned?. And move birds to a safer place.
John Eco Niche on May 20, 2014:
The wren, like most small animals, have a shorter life span, are subject to higher predation, and may experience other casualties specific to their species. Given their situation and what information is provided here, they will nest and raise a few broods a year to help compensate for their losses. We don't know what circumstances led to the loss of your nest. It almost sounds like a few factors were in play. Possibly illness and inexperience of a young parent played a roll. Other factors could have been involved, but unless a study is done, we will never know. One clue is an unhatched egg and the death of the baby. Other two eggs were missing possibly removed from the parent. You can bet that the parents were on their way to build another nest. Hopefully they will try again and they may just stick around your house and try again in a safer place where predators (ants, etc.) wont find the nest easily.
holly50 on May 15, 2014:
A precious wren couple laid four eggs in a planter near my back door. Only one baby survived…i'm not sure what happened to the other two eggs but they are gone. One egg is still unhatched. Today, about 7 days after the baby hatched, i found the baby dead in the nest with ants all over her. I was devastated. What should I do with the dead baby? I saw the mama come and look, but she has not been back since. Why did the baby die?
John Eco Niche on May 14, 2014:
I have read the unusual places these birds nest. But quite frankly, I may not have the most unusual place, but rather the MOST UNUSUAL PROXIMITY..that would be inside my HOUSE. A nesting pair, which have been hanging around since last year, have made their way into my laundry room via the back door. Last year they attempted to build in a box on top of a shelf inside my laundry room, but because I had to secure the house, I would not let them build. This year I let them build and nest and I am leaving the door open for them. I have the pictures, now I just need to post them.
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on August 05, 2013:
Carolina wren babies fledge when they are 12-14 days old.
AJ on August 05, 2013:
Seems like the chicks we're watching have been feathering but have only recently opened their eyes. One was laying very near the opening of the nest today. Do you think it will be much longer until they fledge?
Kate5620 on August 03, 2013:
Just discovered a Carolina Wren nest in my hanging basket right next to the front door. I thought they had abandoned the nest so I took a look and there are two little eggs in there. Hung the basket back up and, sure enough, the Mom is back. I' m so excited to have them that close! Another wonderful gift from our Lord.
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on July 01, 2013:
Toby, I'm a bit confused about why your husband feels the need to tear down the nest if it is off in the corner of the metal support beam. Is he afraid the babies will poop on the boat? Are you sure these are Carolina wrens and not house sparrows? Normally Carolina wrens will abandon a nest if it is disturbed, but European house sparrows are relentless. They make a messy nest with grass, leaves & trash; whatever they can find.
House wrens are another possibility, but I am not familiar with their nest building habits.
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on July 01, 2013:
Kurt, Yes the white object is called a fecal sac. The experts say that the parents take it away to keep the nest clean so that predators will not be alerted to young by the smell. Thanks for commenting.
toby on June 30, 2013:
My husband and I are battling a pair of wrens for weeks who insist upon rebuilding their nest as many times in a day as we tear it down underneath our boat lift canopy on a corner of the metal support beam.
Kurt on June 23, 2013:
Here in Lovettsville VA, they nested in a bluebird box I placed on my windowsill. One thing I've observed is that often the fledgling will pass a white object to the parent after the parent feeds it. The parent then takes it away. I assume the baby is passing off its waste to be removed by the parent. Amazing that the fledgling knows to do that! Is this common behavior in nesting birds?
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on May 16, 2013:
If you are talking about synthetic pesticides, yes, those will harm insect eating birds. They can also harm people. I use organic flea eating nematodes and keep my yard cut for the ticks. I also use advantage or Frontline directly on the pet. The nematodes can be ordered from Amazon or Gardens Alive. You mix them with water and sprinkle them around. They search out and eat flea eggs & larvae and will multiply & stay in your soil as long as the fleas are there.
Linda Hughes on May 15, 2013:
I was wondering if I put flea and tick stuff on my fenced in back yard, if it would hurt the wrens feeing their babies. Don't want to harm them. So didn't know if they eat dead bugs or not....
Linda Hughes on May 15, 2013:
do wrens eat dead bugs
J. Hartman on May 08, 2013:
We live in Florida and a wren built a nest in a paint can in our garage on a shelf about 3 feet up. We have been faithfully watching the mother bird coming and going for a while. She laid only 2 eggs and has been sitting on them about 2 weeks and this morning they hatched. Both the male and female bird have been back and forth today. We leave the garage open during the day and close it at night and she stays there all night, then leaves for a very short time when we open it in the morning. She continues to sit on the nest today even though they have hatched. She isn't bothered by us being in the garage, my husband can be working all around her with the radio playing and she just looks at him. I hope a predator doesn't get them, they are so amazing.
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on April 14, 2013:
Congratulations on the nest. Once baby wrens grow feathers, fledging happens quickly. Have your camera ready to document the event.
dan white on April 14, 2013:
I have a nesting pair of Bewick wrens on my small covered back porch in the Dallas area of Texas. The nest is in an old metal coffee can where I was saving some seeds which also had the dried 'sticks & stems'. The can is on an open shelf about 3' high in my gardening cabinet on an open shelf. She startled me the first time she flew out. There are 5 eggs. I had also disturbed one of the 'dummy' nests under an old wood pallet during my spring gardening. I am so excited; this is only my 2nd year at back yard bird watching. What a Joy!
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on July 15, 2012:
Carolina wrens fledge from 12-14 days from hatching. When the babies get close to fledging, they are very loud. The parents rush in & drop off an insect and leave. The babies are usually quiet when the parents aren't around. The young usually leave the nest 1 at a time over a period of a few hours.
Unless something killed both parents, they probably have not abandoned the nest. Could it be that there aren't as many babies, because some have fledged? Have you taken a quick head count? In my experience, when I hear the babies chirping loudly, the parents are feeding them at that moment. If some have fledged, then the chirping won't be as loud because there are fewer babies to make noise.
Kristi on July 15, 2012:
Hi I think I have baby wrens in my old Christmas wreath by my back door. I have been watching the mom and or dad for weeks going back and forth to the nest..and even watched it week before feeding..Now I don't see either parent.I heard the crying babies all day yesterday, but never say parents feed them. They were much bigger and really loud with fuzzy heads. They are peeping softer this morning still looking for food. I still have not seen parents go to nest. I see that similar looking birds appear to be building a nest nearby in a bird house now. Do you think these are the parents..and have they abandoned the poor dears? I am worried that they are dying. I can hear them peeping all morning...Should I take them to a wildlife rehabilitator or leave them in hope?
bird watcher on July 05, 2012:
I was to leave on a ten day vacation but knew I had birds nesting in my garage. I left the door open a little on the bottom hoping the birds would still find their way in and out. When I returned I noticed three eggs in the nest. I supppose they are not finished yet as I now know they are Carolina Wrens and expect a few more eggs. They are very safe from predators and quite a noisy pair. I enjoyed watching them both build the nest and am thrilled to have them. Thanks for such great information about my little insect eating friends.
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on July 04, 2012:
You are right to be concerned if the house is in full sun. Depending on how it is situated, you could try to construct an awning of some kind over it. Perhaps with a conduit or pvc pipe with a right angle and shorter piece and some shade cloth or something that would provide shade attached to it.
If you try it, be sure to get everything set up before you start to put it up so that you disturb the birds as little as possible.
Larry & Sandy on July 04, 2012:
We have a tin bird house that was put up for decoration only. Now we have an active nest with babies, and are concerned about the temperature inside the tin house. It is going to be too hot for them? It is going to be around 100 degrees in Michigan for the next 3 days. Do you have any knowledge about how hot it can get and the babies will still be OK. Thanks, Larry & Sandy
uptowngirl61 on June 16, 2012:
A few months ago, I found that we had a Carolina Wren nest in our garage, built in a flower pot on a shelf. It's right beside our extra freezer. I check on her and I talk to her every time I go out there. She isn't afraid of us at all. The pair of wrens raised 3 babies. When they all left, I just didn't get around to getting rid of it and to my surprise, I walked by the other day and she is reusing the same nest and now has 5 eggs! I have never heard of a wren reusing a nest for the second brood of the season. Is this common? I am happy she is back!
Bird lover! on June 14, 2012:
I absolutely LOVE Carolina wrens! I've raised a handful of them before and it's quite easy lol but they are a joy to have around!:)
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on June 12, 2012:
Oh, gee, I live in south Louisiana where the Carolina Chickadees begin breeding in February. In the Mid-Atlantic, maybe March or April through summer. Check with some birders or bird clubs in your area to find out more accurate dates.
GaelDC on June 12, 2012:
We have a nest of Carolina Wrens in a bird house near the front door. I will ove it once the babies are gone. We also have an outdoor cat that is now on house lock-down from sunup to dark until the fledges are gone. She's managing just fine. After this experience I understand even more why Vets and other animal caregivers urge owners always to keep cats indoors. Meanwhile, if there were a campaign to keep cats indoors during breeding season, what would be the timing be for, say, Mid-Atlantic?
Marie on June 04, 2012:
Thanks for the tips! I'll move the feeder. I think we're safe from cats and haven't seen any raccoon either (yet). Little mama is safe and sound right now. So we shall see. :)
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on June 04, 2012:
I just remembered something. When we lived in a subdivision, we, too, had trouble with the neighbor's cats. My husband contacted the zoo and was able to pick up a bag of lion and tiger poo. He placed little piles of it in strategic places around the edge of our yard. For a while we didn't have trouble with the cats and none were harmed.
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on June 04, 2012:
dskyyksd's comment about predators and food near the nest was right on target. It is important that you not place food (even bird seed or suet) near an active nest. Besides the mammals, there are birds like blue jays and house sparrows that will attack a nest. Some rodents that are attracted to bird seed will also rob the nest.
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on June 04, 2012:
Father wren probably grew up in that neighborhood, too. Carolina wrens will nest 2-3 times. I'm sure the reason for that is the high mortality rate. A few of the babies may make it. It's not uncommon for the young to disappear after fledging, only to reappear a week or more later when they are stronger and can fly.
As for the cats, we can't fault them for doing what comes naturally. It is the person who cares for them that is responsible. It is a shame that the cat lady doesn't think about the habitat as a whole. In most cases these individuals are so set in their ways and for whatever reason, talking to them does little good. So many people still think that it's okay to let your cats run wild and many don't spay or neuter their pets. So sad that pet owners aren't more responsible.
dskyyksd on June 04, 2012:
It is not at all uncommon for Carolina wrens to start a new brood with fledglings in tow. Once Mom has the new eggs laid and starts to incubate, Dad has to take care of the fledglings by himself.
Cats are by far the biggest threat to your birds. Dogs can be a threat, too, but they can be confined outdoors if necessary.
Owls and raccoons are among the wild predators. Don't leave food outside for your dogs. That will draw cats and raccoons.
What I'd like to find is a continuous emission source for high frequency sound that repels cats but doesn't bother the birds. I have one of those Catstop things, but it doesn't trigger reliably and only covers a slice of ground. I have some Scarecrow motion detector water sprinklers that I just used to save a nest from a herd of cats next door.
The cats probably got the babies anyway after they fledged. I live on rented property with very little ground cover. The cover they flew into from the nest is on the cat woman's property.
I saw one of the fledglings making a very long flight to a tree across the street. I think they were trying to move across the street and got turned back because they were breaching another wren family's territory.
By the end of the day, I no longer saw or heard them, and the cats looked fat and happy down on the ground. I hate them.
Every time I see Daddy now, he's by himself. He's hiding high in an oak tree now, singing from time to time. We actually did see him on a lower branch yesterday with another bird. We couldn't tell if it was Mom or a fledgling or some other bird.
Chased up high in an oak tree isn't a high quality of life for birds that live in ground cover. Is there any hope that he got his family to safety and is just making drastic adjustments to his situation? I really feel badly for him. He picked a lousy neighborhood to live in.
Marie on June 04, 2012:
Hi, we just moved to North Carolina from Florida and have our first wren family nesting on our back deck in a birdhouse on a shelf very close to our dining table. They don't seem too concerned that we are nearby. We saw three fledglings following the male around while he was building the nest. Is it normal for them to help young from another brood while beginning a new one? They are surely fascinating and adorable! There is a feeder nearby. What kind of predators do I need to worry about? I haven't seen any neighborhood cats in the garden (we have dogs). Thanks for your great blog!