Reducing Bug Pests with House Wrens

by Richard Larson

This house wren couple are not camera shy when they have young to feed!

Often I inspect the produce in the garden and find I’m hard pressed to locate insect pests, yet these little 10 gram (0.35 ounce) songbirds will fly into the garden on seemingly endless trips and find insects to feed their young.

I have been building the population of these birds in and around my garden by installing nest boxes. The best houses are small, with 2.4 cm (15/16ths inch) entry holes designed to keep other larger birds out.

House wrens are well adapted to summering here in this North American cold climate location (Wisconsin), but the range of these birds is nearly all of the Americas.


  1. It pays to look after your birds. We have a few very big old pear trees near our vegetable garden but we have never been able to harvest any fruit because parrots completely strip the trees shortly before the pears mature.
    One day I saw this plastic owl in the local hardware store going for $20 so I took one home and put it on a pole near the trees. Well I did manage to get a few pears but then I noticed all these little holes appearing in the silverbeet. The holes were eventually found to be due to little green grasshoppers. Then I realised that all the Willie Wagtails and Pardelotes were gone. So the owl was exiled to the shed. After a couple of weeks the little birds came back and the holes in the silverbeet stopped.
    Perhaps a new chapter is needed in the permaculture story on how to use wild life in the garden.

  2. we always has house wrens around when we were growing up. I had them inhabit a house when I lived in town. I like your example of a house every 10 feet. we have them here on the farm, but they nest in the grove.
    PS: we called them “Jenny Wren”

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