How To Attract Carolina Wrens To Your Garden (7 Methods)


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Carolina wrens are small birds found in the East and Southeast of the United States, as well as parts of Mexico. They’re not afraid of approaching man-made buildings, so they might be easier to attract than most birds.

They’re often in need of shelter during the winter, while they’re easily attracted to empty nests and a few different types of food.

Here are the seven effective methods of how to attract Carolina wrens to your garden.

1. Hang A Bird Feeder

In northern parts of their range, Carolina wrens are often seen around bird feeders because it’s more difficult for them to find food during the winter. However, wrens in the southern parts can be attracted by bird feeders too.

They especially like suet feeders filled with sunflower seeds, peanuts, and mealworms.

You can also provide various bugs, as these small birds mostly feed on insects in the wild, especially ants, grasshoppers, beetles, and bees.

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They’ll also eat lizards and frogs, provided that they’re small enough to kill. Carolina wrens can help keep the population of these critters down if they’re in your yard often.

Carolina wrens are mostly meat eaters, but they’ll also eat seeds and fruit pulp if they find any. They won’t eat most fruits, though, so chopping apples in little pieces won’t attract them.

Aside from a suet cage, you can set up a small platform or a tube feeder filled with seeds.

In the wild, Carolina wrens find most of their food on the ground, which means that you can simply scatter the food around a tree to attract them. Unfortunately, you might also be attracting mice, squirrels, and other small vermin by doing this.


2. Set Up A Small Nest

If found empty, a manmade nest will be populated by a pair of wrens. They’re known for invading manmade buildings and establishing nests wherever they see fit.

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Mailboxes, garaged vehicles, empty flower pots, and even jacket pockets are all possible nest spots for the Carolina wren.

Since they’re small birds, the nest itself can be a small box with a single entry/exit hole. Build a simple 7x7x7 inch box with a 3-inch entry hole.

You shouldn’t add the isolation material to the nest as the male wren wants to do that on his own. They’ll use tree bark, string, wool, and even snakeskin to make the nest warm.

In the wild, they build their nests between 3 and 10 feet in height, so your nest should be set up at that height as well.

Finally, remember to set up the nest at the beginning of March at the latest. Carolina wrens nest from mid-March to mid-October.


3. Provide A Brush Pile Shelter

Carolina wrens are very sensitive to cold temperatures – this is why their northern populations always decrease after harsh winters.

To ensure their survival during the coldest months, keep a simple brush pile in your yard. It doesn’t have to be big and pretty – just a few dozen dead branches, maybe even your Christmas tree, will be enough to provide protection from rain and snow.

Since Carolina wrens are mostly ground-dwelling birds, ground shelters are especially attractive to them.

If you have a dead log somewhere, adding it to the middle of the brush pile would be great, as dead logs are usually full of insects – wrens’ favorite food!


4. Keep Cats Away From Them

Domestic cats are a major danger to Carolina wrens, and it’s absolutely necessary to keep your cat away from the birds in your yard.

Dogs aren’t as dangerous for them as they can’t climb trees and get to the shelter you put up, while they’re also not as stealthy and birds can usually get away on time.

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If you let your cat out into the yard, keep track of where it is, as the wrens will most definitely kick off the cat’s predatory instincts.

The timber rattlesnake is another common predator of the Carolina wren. Both animals are found in the American East and Southeast, and the Carolina wren is just the right size for the snake.

If found, please do not try to remove one of North America’s most dangerous snakes on your own, but rather call animal control services!

Eastern rat snakes, which aren’t venomous, often climb into the nest and eat both the birds and the eggs. The same can be said for raccoons, although they’re easily scared off.


5. Winter Bird Baths Are A Major Attractant

Bird baths attract birds throughout the entire year, but they’re especially important during the winter when most water sources freeze. If possible, invest in a bird bath with a heater that will prevent the water from freezing.

The birds won’t bathe as much during the winter, but they’ll keep coming back to your birdbath because it’ll be one of the few sustainable water sources in the area.

If you don’t have a heated bird bath, you can add a bubbler to your bird bath. Bubblers are cheap devices, and they make it difficult for water to freeze.


6. Attract Them Easily With Dust Baths

Setting up a dust bath is one of the easiest ways of attracting Carolina wrens. All wrens take dust baths to get rid of excess oil, skin debris, and larger pieces of dirt.

In the wild, dust bathing is just as common as water bathing, so you should set up a simple dust bath. It takes nothing more than a flower pot filled with fine soil and sand!

Carolina wrens will find the flower pot, roll in the dirt and forcefully flap their wings to get rid of any dirt or feathers that need to fall off.

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During the process, the bird will throw a lot of dirt around, so it’s best to put your dust bath somewhere so it doesn’t make a mess.


7. Carolina Wrens Love Pokeweed

Although we can’t eat them, birds are completely immune to pokeweed berry poison. They’re often consumed by small birds, which means they’re going to attract Carolina wrens, but also other birds, such as the northern cardinal.

Pokeweed is very easy to grow and it requires very little care.

However, you need to keep in mind that it’s toxic to humans, dogs, and cats.  Every part of the plant is toxic and eating any of it can cause vomiting, spasms, convulsions, and in extreme cases – death.

Because of this, planting pokeweed isn’t a smart thing to do if you have small kids or pets in the yard.

It’s also possible for pokeweed to attract possums, raccoons, and mice, as they can all eat it safely.

If these animals aren’t common in your area and you don’t have kids or pets, however, planting some pokeweed is a great way to invite Carolina wrens!

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Want more birds in your backyard? Get simple tips on attracting feathered friends and maximizing your bird feeding setup. Our free cheat sheet has got you covered!
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James Goodman

James is a native Texan with a love for birding and outdoor adventures. When he's not birdwatching, you can find him hiking, camping or playing the piano.

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