“I was given a new wren house. I know that it has to face in a certain direction; what is it?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff enjoys these interesting questions about birds. Many of us didn’t realize that birdhouses had to hang facing in certain directions.
The Birder’s Miscellany: a fascinating collection of facts, figures, and folklore from the world of birds by Scott Weidensaul states that the overall dimensions of the nest box of a house wren should be 8”H X 5.5”W X 4”D with an entrance hole of 1.25”. It should be placed head-high in the yard or garden [p. 125]. Edward A. Baldwin’s Birdfeeders, Shelters & Baths has some very creative bird houses and feeders including ones which would be excellent projects to make with children. He also has ideas for keeping predators at bay.
The Audubon North American Birdfeeder Guide by Robert Burton and Stephen W. Kress has a chapter on nest boxes: selecting ones to attract certain birds, box design, positioning, cleaning, maintenance, building, and garden threats. Burton and Kress state that house wrens are hole-nesters who like enclosed boxes attached to garden fence posts or in or near shrubbery or the edge of a forest, rather than open nesters like robins. They also have good suggestions for making your garden bird friendly, including protecting them from threats. For bluebirds and tree swallows they suggest that box entrances face east in order to be warmed by the morning sun, but say nothing about the placement of house wren boxes. The Audubon North American Birdfeeder Guide has an excellent chapter on house wrens. This bird with the cheerful song is friendly to gardeners, eating many insects including grasshoppers, gypsy moths, cabbage butterflies, ticks and flies. The wren usually bears two clutches of eggs each year, so it is still not too late to get a house up in time for the laying of the second clutch.
While we’ve learned a lot about wrens, the patron’s question still has not been answered. It is time to search the Internet. The website, ChestOfBooks.com has books which can be read online for free. Carpentry and Mechanics For Boys by A. Neely Hall has a chapter on Wren Houses [http://chestofbooks.com/home-improvement/woodworking/Carpentry-and-Mechanics-For-Boys/Chapter-XXXVI-Wren-Houses.html]. This has very detailed information about wrens and their choice of house. It also states that they prefer that the opening of the house to face east. The patron had the information she needed and was heading outside to put up her new house.