Nature Questions: How To Attract Wrens To My Garden?

Wrens are common birds that can be seen all around the UK. They are considered as capable nest builders, even if they happen to be on the edge of a cliff, high in a mountain, in the eaves of a barn, or on farmland. Small birds can be found in abundance in parks and woodlands.

It’s often a hard job to spot them, though. They are always on the lookout for food, scurrying around trees, bushes, and leaf heaps in search of insects. How to attract wrens to a garden is a commonly asked question and one that we will answer for you in great detail. Keep on reading to find out more!

Wren perching on a bramble bush singing

About wren birds

It is unequivocally a very British songbird, to say the least. Plus, one of the most common breeding birds in the UK and it is more often heard rather than seen. The trilling song, which is very loud for such a small bird, is very pleasant and soothing to the ear.

In Britain and Ireland, there are six subspecies of wren, four of which are island races found on Shetland (Zetlandicus), Fair Isle (Fridariensis), St. Kilda (Hirtensis), and the Outer Hebrides (Hebridensis).

In the southeast of England, a fifth indigenous species, troglodytes, integrates with a sixth, indigenous one found over the northern and western mainland. These types of bird species appear to have evolved rather quickly.

How to attract wrens to your garden

​To attract wrens of any species, you must provide food, water, shelter, nesting options, just like any other backyard bird. If your offerings don’t meet all of these requirements the first time you try, it’s unlikely that local wrens will stay long enough to become regular visitors in your garden.

1. Food

Installing bird feeders or making your own DIY bird table in your garden is one of the most effective ways to encourage wrens to come. It will be a hard choice when it comes to attracting different wren species to your garden because there are so many different types of food available. Here are a few that wrens would love to have:

  • Suet balls: They are ideal for the winter since they give the calories that wrens require to keep them going during the long, cold months. 
  • Sunflower hearts: These are simple to eat and high in protein for wrens. 
  • Peanut butter: Make sure you place it in a tray feeder or a shallow dish on a bird table.
  • Niger seeds: Wrens and goldfinches love them. Because these little black seeds are so small, they’ll need to be placed in a special feeder. 
  • Mealworms: They are an excellent addition to your garden, whether it is live or dried mealworms. Wrens and other birds, such as woodpeckers, nuthatches, starlings, blackbirds and wild birds, will adore this treat.
wren with a worm in its beak in winter

You may have to wait a bit for the birds to notice your feeder, but once they do, it’s highly likely that they will return. Keep it topped up on a regular basis and set it somewhere safe where these garden birds can see any signs of danger right away.

It is ideal to place it next to a big hedge or tree that can give cover. Cats can ambush wrens in low cover, so keep them away. It’s also a good idea to consider having multiple bird feeding spots to attract as many wrens as possible.

If you have a tree in your garden, hanging bird feeders from its branches is a great option, or you can choose a standalone feeder if you don’t. Some wrens may prefer to feed on the ground, so you could equip them with a ground feeding tray.​

2. Shelter

Wrens like tight cover and prefer to remain low in thickets. They can find enough refuge in your garden if you provide multiple dense, shrubby spots.

To help wrens feel safe, consider leaving low branches on small trees and shrubs intact. A brush pile can be handy if there are no plants available, and wrens will use bird boxes as a refuge on chilly winter evenings. You can learn how to build your own bird box with our guide.

House wren flying into birdhouse in spring

3. Water

Multiple water sources will attract wrens more effectively than a single one. Bird fountains or other moving, splashing water sources will spark the birds’ interest and entice them to come closer.

Birdbaths on pedestals and in the ground are both effective too. To accommodate wrens’ small legs, make sure that the bath you choose is rather shallow. Or you can always learn how to make your own birdbath with your help.

Heated birdbaths can be useful for wrens too to give ample water throughout the winter months. Marsh wrens might be attracted to reedy, quiet ponds in the backyards of birders.

Variegated Fairy Wren bathing in a bird bath

4. Convenient nesting

Another excellent approach to attract wrens to your garden is to provide them with a safe and secure place to nest. The simplest way to achieve this is to place a few nesting boxes in sheltered sections of your garden, away from potential predators. Always make sure that yours is cleaned thoroughly. You can learn how to keep your nest box clean here!

Avoid placing your nesting box in direct sunlight or near a windy location. Instead, choose a location that is either north or east-facing. You can choose from a variety of nesting boxes, which would include the following:

Nestboxes with an open front

These are perfect for wrens, and they should be put low to the ground, surrounded by shrubs and other plants.

Classic, small-holed nest boxes 

These are the classic nest boxes, which include a little opening at the top through which wrens can enter. They should be placed 2 to 4 metres up a tree or wall to attract a variety of small birds.

Sparrow terraces

These nest boxes are basically three boxes in one. They should be put high on the roof, under the eaves.

5. Plants

Plant a mix of bird-friendly plants, trees, and shrubs in your garden to create an oasis for wrens. These will provide additional cover and nesting sites, as well as a natural bird food source.

Rowan, hawthorn, guelder rose, and holly are all berry-rich trees and bushes that provide food as well as shelter. Teasels and sunflowers, for example, are excellent choices since they produce a lot of seeds. Wrens love ivy and honeysuckle because they provide deep shelter, fruits, and attract insects for them to eat.

Additional useful tips

Even with the best food, plenty of water, and covers, attracting wrens can still be a bit challenging. If you’re having difficulties attracting them to your garden, there are a few additional things you can do to encourage them to come:

  1. To attract inquisitive wrens, you can upcycle some nesting materials for rustic birdhouses, such as a teapot or coffee can.
  2. Pishing and other bird-attracting sounds can be used to entice wrens to your garden by appealing to their curiosity and inquisitive nature.
  3. Take great precautions to keep feral cats and other predators away from these ground-feeding, shrub-loving wrens.

Things you should not do

  1. Don’t buy multi-purpose pet food, and don’t feed wrens a lot of bread because it isn’t nutritional and only serves as a filler. If you do, make sure to only use moistened, not stale, breadcrumbs.
  2. Stay away from desiccated coconut as it can swell up inside the stomach of the wren.
  3. Sugary snacks and cooked oats should be avoided too since they can dry out and stiffen around beaks.
  4. Do not place bird feeders in areas where predators, such as cats and sparrowhawks, can find easily accessible.
  5. To reduce the chance of birds crashing with windows, avoid using garden netting, especially during the breeding season, and set feeders away from your house.
  6. Wrens love snails and slugs for a good snack. So, if you really want to see more wrens in your garden, avoid killing the local bug population so that wrens won’t go hungry. Allowing your garden’s insects to grow will attract them throughout the seasons.

Reasons to love wren birds

  1. They always make regular appearances in bird-friendly gardens.
  2. The winter wren is also a regular garden visitor, not only in the UK but also in Europe and Asia.
  3. Because of their voracious insectivorous appetites, boisterous songs, and inquisitive natures, these birds are almost always welcomed wherever they land.
  4. Wrens can become such frequent visitors that they will learn to accept food from patient hands, making them a perennial favourite among backyard birders.

Fun facts

  1. The wren is the shortest British bird, with the loudest song relative to its size.
  2. In a particularly cold and long winter, the population of wrens can plummet by 25%.
  3. Wrens are one of the most populous birds in the UK, with an estimate of around 7 million.
  4. A male swan weighs the same as 1,400 wrens.
  5. The male wren can build six to twelve nests from which the female might pick.
  6. Only a few male wrens assist in the rearing of their offspring.
  7. About half of all males have multiple partners.
  8. Wrens usually have eight or nine fledglings from a single nest.
  9. Male wrens can sing all year round except when they moult
  10. Jenny wren is a common name for this bird.
A closeup shot of a march wren bird perched on a tree branch with white flowers

You should now have a good understanding of what you should and should not do to attract wrens to your garden. Above all, be patient with them. Wrens are hesitant and suspicious at first, but once they discover that an area fits their needs and provides a secure haven, they will quickly become accustomed to it. In no time, you will have a flurry of feathered friends visiting your garden. Happy birding!

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