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Click to go to Audubon Society of Omaha Home Page Audubon Society of OmahaEastern Bluebird

Welcome to The Bluebird Box since 1995
Best of Bluebird Mailing Lists Classified

Carolina Wren

Also see Problems with Wrens on the Bluebird Trail


From: Phil Berry [mailto:mrtony8"at"mchsi.com]
Sent: Monday, July 19, 2004 8:54 AM
Subject: Carolina Wren Nest

Yesterday on our trail I discovered a new (to me) nest. In a bb box near a swamp I saw a nest made of materials I am unaware of. It looks like leaves, yet you can see through them. Piled high, with a hood. The eggs are whitish/gray or bluish/gray, with reddish spots around the crown. Four eggs, about bb size. I did see Carolina Wrens there, and one screamed bloody murder at me. In my 11 years of trail riding, I have never seen anything like this. Anyone else have them? I know, they are "common" in the north. Phil Berry Gulf Breeze, Florida


From: Burnham, Barbara [mailto:Barbara.Burnham"at"zzz.zzz]
Sent: Tuesday, July 20, 2004 6:45 AM
RE: Carolina Wren Nest

Phil, When I lived in Columbia, MD, in a second level condo facing the woods, a Carolina Wren built such a nest in a big flower pot of coral bells on my covered deck. The nest was so well camouflaged under the green leaves, that when I watered the plant, Mama CAWR jumped out and scolded me smartly, scaring us both half to death! It was fascinating to watch them from my window until they fledged. There is a small nursery here in Ellicott City that keeps a decorative nestbox on a shelf right above the cash register. CAWR regularly nest in that box. The birds often startle customers as they come and go to feed their young. The birds hop all over the shop and gardens for bugs, ignoring customers, lots of noise and busy staff. A sign below the nestbox reads "Not For Sale, At Any Price." Barbara Burnham Ellicott City, MD


From: jwick"at"tds.net [mailto:jwick"at"tds.net]
Sent: Monday, July 19, 2004 9:27 AM
Subject: Re: Carolina Wren Nest

Hi Phil and others: Although I have never seen a Carolina Wren Nest thus far, I would guess you are correct! Here's the description given for a Carolina Wren nest in my "nest bible" (Birds' Nests by Hal H. Harrison, copyright, 1975): "Nest: Built in natural cavity, woodpecker hole, birdhouse, upturned roots, stone walls, under bridges; nook or cranny around human dwelling or outbuilding. To 10 ft. (3 m) above ground, rarely higher. Bulky mass of leaves, twigs, mosses, rootlets, weekd stalks, strips of inner bark, debris; GENERALLY DOMED, with side entrance; lined with feathers, hair, moss, wool, fine grases. Both sexes bujild in about 5 days; female does most of the lining. Some building after egg-laying starts. Eggs: 4-8 commonly 5-6; av. 19.1 x 14.9 mm. Oval to short-oval. Shell smooth, little or no gloss. White, pale pink; typically marked with heavy brown spots, often concentrated at larger end. Incubation by female alone; 14 days. Male feeds mate at nest. Time spent on nest during incubation unusually long for passerine. 2 broods; sometimes 3 in South. Notes: Incubating Northern House Wren leaves nest 27-43 times daily; Carolina Wren 6-7 times. Lays LARGEST of eastern wren eggs. Like Great-crested Flycatcher, this species often uses cast- off snakeskin as nest material." ... Ann Wick Black Earth, WI


From: Lawrence Herbert [mailto:lherbert"at"4state.com]
Sent: Monday, July 19, 2004 11:49 PM
Subject: CAWR nest

Jim asks if anyone else has Carolina Wrens in their bluebird houses. Yes, I have a new CAWR nest no eggs on my Cherokee County, se Kansas trail. I don't expect them to use it, since the season may be winding down. But they may fool me. Only a couple of times over the years have CAWR nest in the bluebird houses here. Always it has been much earlier in the season. Good birding, Larry H. Joplin MO.


From: SCooke [mailto:ncw001"at"nc.rr.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 20, 2004 7:39 AM
Subject: Re: CAWR nest

My mother has a CAWR nest with five eggs in it in her EABL box. I discovered it last week when visiting her in Burlington, NC. What kind of schedule do CAWR's follow as far as incubation time, nestling stage, fledgling stage? Thanks, Sharon in NC -


From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Tuesday, July 20, 2004 8:36 AM
Subject: Carolina Wrens this year Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas

Carolina wrens normally nest around buildings for us and their favorite places are hanging fern baskets on porches. Natural cavities: This year I found a pair that nested in the side of a rotten railroad tie about 30 inches off of the ground well away from any human house along my bluebird trail and close to Mrs. Ivers bluebird trail. This nesting in the "wild" failed when fire ants swarmed the nest. This was mostly open pasture land with brushy fence rows. They also nested in a standard 4.75" X 4.75" square bottom 10" deep box with the 1&9/16" round hole 7" off the bottom board box near one of the city pumping stations. This box is in heavy woods, mounted 6 feet off the ground and is normally used by Carolina Chickadee's or Tufted Titmice. I haven't checked to see if they fledged yet. The third nesting was in a Gilwood nestbox mounted nearly 10 feet off the ground in an open woodland of mixed hardwoods and a planting of loblolly pines about 10 years old now. This is the one where the cowbird egg was in the nest and it ended up starving the baby wrens to death... They also nested well away from our house down near a frog swamp only about 18" off of the ground/water and wedged their nest into a tiny space between two water tanks. This nesting appeared to have been successful even though I feared they were going to be snake food. They had to fly over water to get to the nest. They nested again this year on the burner of my Mr. Coffee maker in my shop but one drowned in the commode when they fledged and entered the bathroom....Keep the lid down PLEASE. I normally find four or five nests of these wrens in the garage or shop buildings here each year. Last year they nested and fledged young down in the feed chute of my chipper shredder...That nest was EASY to re-cycle! If predators could talk would it not be GREAT to visit with them and find out ALL of the places these birds nest that were unsuccessful? KK


From: Lawrence Herbert [mailto:lherbert"at"4state.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 20, 2004 9:00 PM
Subject: CAWR

Incubation and nestling time are similar in the Carolina Wren: 12 to 14 days for both events. Incubation by female alone as far as is known. Carolina Wrens are at least double brooded here in the midwest. Young tended by both parents. Both help in building the nest too. And they seem to change locations several times, even after a completed nest, until they are both satisfied with the location. Incubation and nestling stage length source: Colin Harrison. 1978. Nests, Eggs and Nestlings of N. A. Birds. Good birding, Larry H. Joplin MO.


From: Nina Everett [mailto:NINAUT"at"CHARTER.NET]
Sent: Wednesday, May 04, 2005 5:57 PM
Subject: Nest in a roosting pocket

Last winter I got some large woven roosting pockets to help protect the birds from the weather. They are only about 9" tall. Put one in a large rhododendron next to my back yard. About a month ago I saw a Carolina Wren come out of it. Checked it and there was nothing there. Haven't paid much attention to it again until yesterday. There is nest in it that looks like grass and moss. Haven't been able to get close enough to examine it well. Will have to get my grandson to look at it. I am not tall enough. Would the wren or a Carolina chickadee build a nest in such a small space? Don't know whether to bother it or just try to keep an eye on it. Don't want to scare the bird away, even though I haven't seen one near it.
Nina NC



From: Kate Arnold [mailto:koscharn"at"cox.net]
Sent: Wednesday, May 04, 2005 7:44 PM
Subject: RE: Nest in a roosting pocket

Carolina wrens will nest in a variety of interesting places, and they can fit in a fairly small space. Keith Kridler had one nest in his Mr. Coffee machine, so his workers had to go without their coffee until the babies fledged!

Kate Arnold
Paris, TX, 100 mi NE of Dallas


From: Linda [mailto:linyl"at"alltel.net]
Sent: Friday, May 06, 2005 10:49 PM
Subject: Re: Nest in a roosting pocket

Last week--the last week of April, I had Carolina Wrens fledge from a nest made inside of half a bag of compost that was sitting on a bench in our carport. Strange, but I suppose the plastic bag and compost kept the nest warm during the cold spell we had. Was I surprised when I happened to look out our back windows and see the babies fledge. You won't believe this, but I counted eight babies. The parents urged the little ones into hanging baskets on our porch for the night. The thing is, I didn't know they would flege so late or maybe they were in the area around the nest until evening, and then picked a place to roost for the night. I knew the nest was in the bag and took measures to protect the nest by putting a fence around the bench. The bench was too low for a nest, but you never know about the Carolina Wrens--they build in strange places. Also, the HOWR is a threat so they picked a good hiding place. Linda in NW GA


From: Nina Everett [mailto:NINAUT"at"CHARTER.NET]
Sent: Saturday, May 07, 2005 6:11 PM
Subject: Re: Nest in a roosting pocket

Linda,
Today I saw the Carolina Wren go into the nest in the pocket. She stayed for a minute and came back out. Can't see what is going on in there. Since my bluebirds abandoned their nest with five eggs in it, am afraid to check too closely.
Nina NC


From: Linda [mailto:linyl"at"alltel.net]
Sent: Saturday, May 07, 2005 7:02 PM
Subject: Re: Nest in a roosting pocket

Nina: The Carolina Wren doesn't like disturbance--they're very private. The female is fiesty and will fuss at you. I just leave them alone. They are precious birds and have a hard time with snakes, cats and House Wrens, but are the greatest parent birds. We just love them. It was amazing to me watching them round up their little babies and convince them to go into the hanging baskets on my porch for the night after fledging. If anything trys to bother them, you'll know it because they are so vocal. Linda in NW GA


From: bluebirder2838 [mailto:bluebirder2838"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2007 4:48 PM
Subject: OT: Carolina Wren Monitoring Advice Requested

38 degrees/sleet/rain  expected on and off for another week—

Dear List,

Christine from VA and I have been corresponding off-List about our current similar situations regarding nesting Carolina wrens under the lids of our 100 gallon propane tanks.  I had a similar situation last year and completely left the nest alone and unmonitored because the year prior to that I accidentally had caused the wrens to abandon an almost completed merely by watching them from inside the window my laundry room!  CAWR are seemingly very secretive.  Christine currently has two nests in two separate, side by side tanks—one looks to her to be a dummy nest and the other one currently has 5 eggs.  Christine accidentally startled one of the wrens off the nest a few days ago. 

I know I have a completed nest but I haven’t looked for eggs.  Both of our completed nests look similar to funnels and it is hard to see inside for eggs.
Can anyone give us monitoring advice for CAWRs?  Any information as to their complete nesting cycle, as well as how many nests there usually are in a season would also be welcomed.  We’d like to know the average clutch size, and if and when monitoring is advised. Will the startled wren come back to the nest since it seems she’s incubating? 

Also, Christine has some super photos of the nests on her tanks, as well; I’m sure she’d send them to folks off List if requested (see her email address above in the CC: section).

Thanks to all who respond,

Donna in Marlborough, CT and Christine Boran
Woolwine (Patrick Co), VA


From: Lawrence Herbert [mailto:lherbert"at"4state.com]
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 12:40 PM
Subject: CAWR nesting

Donna and Christine and Bluebirdsters -

Carolina Wren (CAWR) often have two and sometimes three broods as do our three bluebird species.

The number of eggs is usually four to six with five eggs the norm.

Twelve to 14 days to hatch and also 12 to 14 days to fledge. This information from A. C. Bent (1948) "Life Histories...of...Wrens..."

In my experience with CAWR I usually have five or six eggs here in Missouri and Kansas.

Interestingly, also in my experience, Carolina Wren have not nested again in the same place even when successful. Our bluebirds come right back and nest two or three times in the same place if successful.

Good birding, Larry H. Joplin (southwest) MO.


From: Jimmy Dodson [mailto:rocks_and_flies"at"hotmail.com]
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 1:15 PM
Subject: CARW

Donna & Christine --

Monitoring the nest will not hurt them. CARW are somewhat secretive, but they are also one of the birds that is most vocal in terms of calling (I'm not referring to singing) throughout the year. Many birders I know, often "pish"... this is a human version of one of the CARW alarm calls... and effective b/c all the other birds come running to see what the fush is about.

I monitor CARW nests every year, and if the nest is where I can access it, I even band the nestlings before they fledge. Here, they often have 2-3 broods, but in general they "relocate" their nesting attempts despite any efforts on my part to clean the old nest out once they are finished -- though b/c I clean the nest out, they often use the same location or box (they don't often use regular boxes unless cavities and "crevasses" are
limited) the following year. I've had them nest in propane tank tops, under the eaves of buildings, in flower pots, in the mounting bracket for a satellite dish, in a cardboard box that was inside an old barn (female figured out how to get into & out of the building through a vent)... it's a hide-and-go-seek game every year & I've gotten the students here good at watching and following them now.

They have yet to use one of my bluebird-style boxes -- as I have some located in open to semi-open forest/woodland habitats for availability to EABL, CACH, TUTI, CARW, and WBNU -- I refer to these as "all-puropse"
c-nester boxes based on habitat. But, I have had one nest in a nuthatch box (last year) which was a first. Most often they use the 3-sided "platform"
boxes (also sometimes called "robin boxes" at some retailers). I put about
6 of these 3-s platforms up two years ago just to see what would happen, given what I'd seen with their preference for "tight" locations but not necessarily traditional nestboxes. All but one of these 3-s plat's have been used by CARW in the last two years... they one the didn't was actually used by an EABL pair (yea, I know, odd) -- this platform is not near any structures but out in open forestland (3 are around stuctures in forest, 3 are in forest with no structures nearby).

Clutch sizes tend to average 5-8. I've had nests with eggs here as early as the first week of March before, but generally it's the last week of March to first week of April. Incub runs about 10-16 days depending on the time of the season, and I've had nestlings fledge in 10-18 days with 12-14 being average (the 10 day fledglings were a July brood).

When you monitor the nest, carry a flashlight. The "tunnel" is often too long to see inside very well. I've flushed the female off the nests plenty of times, and they will fly nearby and probably start fussing but very calmly come back once I leave the area after a few minutes. Your monitoring is a very unlikely cause (though I guess possible on occassion) the female to abandon -- it's more likely that something else causes it like a snake, cat, EUST, bluejay, crow, mice. They are secretive, but their nests also get found quite a bit naturally b/c they'll nest in so many different places from on the ground, to a natural cavity, to on or inside buildings, etc. A friend went on vacation a couple of years ago and called me when he got back saying there was this bird going back and forth under his push lawn-mower which had been left out under his carport. I swung by a few days later, had a flashlight and found that the female had built her nest with 8 eggs AROUND the lawnmower blade... I told him to watch his grass grow for another 3 weeks, or he could borrow my mower... she fledged all 8.

Hope this helps. --J

Jimmy Dodson
Asst Forest Manager -- NCSU Dept of Forestry & Environmental Resources
Campus: 3024B Biltmore Hall, Raleigh, NC


From: Ellen Lafouge [mailto:elafouge"at"wi.rr.com]
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 2:44 PM
Subject: Re: CARW

I had a wren use one of my Peterson boxes last year, and also two different NABs boxes last year and the year before. She raised two broods last summer, though not in the same box. I didn't monitor them, but she fledged 5 to 6 each time. The mama was pretty cheeky about helping herself to the mealworms I put out for my nesting BB couple, and her babies profited from the arrangement as well. She would fly near me and make a loud fuss when I was working in the garden if she thought it was time for more mealworms. There's no ignoring a wren when she wants attention!

I haven't seen any wrens yet this season, and hope they don't come back until this cold spring moderates. Today seems almost normal, sunny with the temps almost reaching 50 today. The 7 inches of snow melted fast, and very few remnants are visible. I've seen flying insects this morning. And my bluebird couple, who stayed close to the mealworm feeder throughout the last few weeks of nasty weather, have not been around at all today. I think they've found another place to nest, and am disappointed, as I was so diligent about having everything safe and sound for them this year and added some new boxes. I can't know for sure of course, but I have a feeling the male is the same as the two previous years, because he came so readily to the mealworms when I whistled, and seemed to want to coax her to the same box where 2 broods were raised last year. But I think the female is not the same. She obviously has her own ideas about where she wants to raise her young, and that's that. But I'm happy I could help them through our cold weather (I never thought they could go through 5000 mealworms so fast) and hope they fledge strong healthy young ones. At least they know where the mealworm cafe is if they ever get a hankering. Maybe they've headed for Shari K's trail, west of me.

Ellen Lafouge
Bayside, Wisconsin


From: Maynard Sumner [mailto:m-r-sumner"at"juno.com]
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 8:49 PM
Subject: Re: CAWR nesting

I only get one nesting of CAWR a year and they do not go to the same box each year here. I like them. They are better them the HOWR.

Maynard Sumner
Flint, MI


Subject: Re: CARW
From: "Paula Ziebarth" <paulaz"at"columbus.rr.com>
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2007 10:56:18 -0400

Ellen,

I had a very entertaining pair of CARW spend the spring with me last year.
I named them the Hell's Angels because they initially tried to build their
nest in my husband's motorcycle helmet which had been left on top shelf of
garage with visor open.

I keep my mealworms in large open plastic tub on top of the refrigerator in
the garage and the CARW happily availed themselves of many of these whenever
the garage door was open. They thought it was the biggest and best mealworm
feeder ever.

Paula Z
Powell (Central) Ohio


Subject: Re: Carolina Wren Monitoring Advice
From: Torrey <torrey_canyon"at"yahoo.com>
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2007 16:21:17 -0700 (PDT)

Hi Donna,

Carolina Wrens are pretty OK with fuss & bother. Last
year there were 2 CARW nests in outdoor storage
cubbies at the summer camp. The young even got
banded.

Granted, it's just a day camp, so evenings & weekends
are kid-free. Still, that's over a hundred kids
arriving every morning, eating lunch, & being picked
up in the general vicinity of the nest. & i know the
kids were told to not lift up the protective canvas,
but i'm sure a few peeked anyways.

If they can nest (twice) at the heart of camp, they
should be OK with anything. :-) As Jimmy suggested, a
flashlight is a good idea. So is one of those
dental/mechanics mirrors, so you can see around
corners.

O, & they've got a slightly tricky code:
Carolina Wren = CARW
Cactus Wren = CACW
Canyon Wren = CANW

Good luck to you & your friend with your nests.

Torrey Wenger
Kalamazoo Nature Center
Kalamazoo, MI


Subject: Re: Carolina Wren Monitoring Advice
From: Al & Yvonne <tchehabitat"at"bellsouth.net>
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2007 19:43:40 -0500

Yes, Carolina Wrens definitely choose to nest near people. We've had a
pair or their off-spring nesting in various places, near the doors of
our house, about 2 feet off the ground, for several years. Lately
they've been nesting by the front door in a large potted plant. They
just fledged 4 young and the Backyard Bird Cam from Novabird.com took
some good pictures of the parents feeding their young and the little
ones leaving the nest. They had no problem with us walking back and
forth each day or with our weeding the flower bed where the pot was
sitting. Once they lay their eggs it takes a lot to get them off the
nest. Monitoring should not be a problem.
Yvonne and Al Bordelon
Covington, LA


From: WoolwineHouse"at"aol.com [mailto:WoolwineHouse"at"aol.com]
Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2007 11:08 AM
Subject: Re: Carolina Wren Monitoring Advice

In a message dated 4/14/2007 8:47:47 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, tchehabitat"at"bellsouth.net writes:
Once they lay their eggs it takes a lot to get them off the
nest.  Monitoring should not be a problem.
Thanks all for your posts on the wrens.   These CARW are very cute.  Well, I'm slightly concerned now since Donna's first inquiry post.  This past week, when I carefully walk by the nests on my propane tanks to fill my finch feeders (one nest is a dummy and the other nest has 5 eggs), I have not seen any CARW fly away nor have I seen her sitting on the nest.   I will keep track of how many days these eggs go and hope the nest has not been abandoned.   After I startled her the first time sitting on the eggs (she flew from the nest when I arrived there), since I haven't been going to it too often, just to see if there has been progress, just once, really.  I have a mechanics mirror and I will get a dental mirror....both great ideas for observing nests and eggs!  Thanks all.....and thanks to Donna for placing the post about our CARWs on our propane tanks!
 
Christine in

Southwest VA's Blue Ridge Highlands


From: Dean Sheldon [mailto:seedbed"at"accnorwalk.com]
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2007 9:33 AM
Subject: Fw: Carolina Wren nest safely relocated

Here's a cavity nester story tht we can all appreciate. Sheryl Young is one of the mainstays of the Firelands Aududon Society in Erie and Huron counties in north central Ohio bordering on Lake Erie.
Dean Sheldon, Greenwich
 
 
----- Original Message -----
...
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2007 8:40 AM
Subject: Carolina Wren nest safely relocated

(I just posted the following on Ohio Birds listserve and thought you might enjoy reading it.)
 
Yesterday, while doing yard work I saw a Carolina Wren shot out from a hole in the cover of my propane tank.  I carefully lifted the cover (that rounded knob on the top of the tank that covers the valves) and sure enough, she had a nest with five eggs. The nest was a bulky tangle of dry vegetation with a nicely formed deep cup holding the eggs.  Although it was secure for the time being, we never know when the propane delivery truck might come by to top off the tank, which would destroy the nest.
 
I felt the best thing to do was to relocate the nest, and thought of just the thing to use.  Two years ago, Carolina Wrens started to build a nest in an old watering can that was on its side.  Unfortunately, a heavy rain caused water to puddle around the can.  The partially built nest was flooded and the wrens abandoned it.  This watering can offered a good solution.
 
I carefully removed the nest from the propane tank and gently set the eggs on a warm spot on the ground.  I was able to squeeze the nest into to the watering can and replace the eggs.  I then set the can atop the propane tank and used a wad of newspaper to block the hole in the cover that she had been using as an entrance to the nest.
 
I left the area for about ten minutes.  When I returned, mom flushed from the relocated nest!  Later in the day, I moved the can away from the valve and used string to tie it securely to the tank.  As an added bonus, now I can look out a window and see mom on the nest.
 
I share this story because it demonstrates the fallacy that touching a bird's nest or eggs will cause the mother to abandon it.  When necessary, people can intervene to move a nest, or return an egg or nestling to a nest.  The mother's instinct is too strong to abandon her young.
 
Sheryl Young
Sandusky

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