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Name: Diana Bruno
Status: educator
Grade: 4-5
Location: NH
Country: USA
Date: Summer 2013

I home school my children and we have been studying birds ever since some wrens built a nest "on" our deck. I am a certified K-12 teacher, but have taken a few years off to teach my three children. We have researched the question I'm asking, but can't find an answer, so we're hoping you can help us. We have a pair of Carolina Wrens that built their nest in my clothespin bag, on top of my clothespins. The bag is hanging against the house on my deck. We do try to limit being out there, and when we are, we try to be pretty quiet. I'm wondering, if I get a different bag, put something in the bottom (like nesting material), and with gloves, put the old nest on top and last but not least, move the bag over about 10 feet, will they use that as their nesting place next year (of course, I won't hang another bag in the original spot anymore)? In past years we have had to remove their nesting material from my clothespin bag, (luckily they weren't too far along) and remove the bag completely. Although I removed the start to their nest this year, I guess I didn't think and hung the bag back up too soon. Unfortunately, we weren't paying attention to the bag anymore and when I went to hang clothes out one day is when I realized they had built again, but this time had gotten so much of their nest built that we weren't about to remove it. I knew it would be a great thing for my kids to see,as well as myself! I'd appreciate if you would let us know what we should do. The wrens live under our deck in the winter and we'd like to keep them around. It's very exciting having them close and we hope to see the fledglings when they leave the nest.

Hi Diana,

Thanks for your question. I commend you on homeschooling your children. I would recommend wearing gloves when you handle the nesting material. You can provide an alternative nesting area (i.e., bag) for the wrens so they don't interfere with your activities. Generally speaking, the less interference one provides, the higher the chance that the birds will return to the same area and nest again.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have more questions. Thanks Jeff


My experiences in the field include monitoring House Wren, Eastern Bluebirds, Black-capped Chickadees, Tree Swallows in particular, I have found that it is a somewhat risky to move a nest location. Success depends upon the individual parents (birds are different just like humans in personality), but many will accept the moving. Success also depends upon the stage of development of the young, for one example, the adults may react to the missing nest location as an indicator that the young have fledged and may abandon the nesting. The distance away from the original location may be a factor. Nestlings do not often call to avoid calling attention to the nest site to predators so parents may not find them. Wait for good weather too. If the parents can not find the nest, they will respond like it as a destroyed such as by a predator. However, after all this discouragement, if this pair is a year around resident, I think that is an encouraging sign that moving the location may be just fine.

Steve Sample

Wrens are pretty flexible and opportunistic in choice of nest locations. If you provide a similar situation for them there is a good chance, but no guarantee, they will use it. I don't know if moving the old nest material will help and might be detrimental as old nests may harbor nest parasites. Removing the existing attractive location and providing similar should be enough, its worth a try. Good luck and enjoy the birds.

J. Elliott

I am so glad to hear that you want to keep the wrens around! I think placing a similar bag just a few feet away will do the trick. Next year, give it a try. I'm not sure you would even have to put an old nest in there, it sounds like they are already determined to nest in that location! Possibly half fill the bag with hay or grass clippings, and of course, remove your other clothespin bag until the birds have settled into their new "bird house" nicely. Good luck!

Grace Fields


Here is an article about Carolina Wrens:

In the “Nesting” section it says that the Wrens raise 1 – 3 broods of 3 - 7 eggs per year. We also have a pair nesting on our front porch. We don’t pay much attention to them and come and go as is our routine and it hasn’t disturbed them at all.

They are pretty resilient and will most likely move to the new bag, but you can’t really tell for sure. I recommend you wait until the broods are fledged before trying to relocate the nesting site. They will hang around as long as there are plenty of bugs to eat.

Here is another interesting article that pretty much says the same thing.

Sincere regards, Mike Stewart

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