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Old 05-28-2011, 09:25 PM   #1
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Default House Wrens as Chickadee Predator?

I had a nesting pair of chickadees that had been feeding their chicks for the past week or more. Today, when I went back to that area for another purpose, I saw a house wren fly out of the nesting box. When I looked inside, all three of the chicks had been killed. They were well developed, and well on their way to soon fledging.

I found this upsetting, as I was so pleased to have my favorite species of bird nesting here. I had been watching the parents search the trees and shrubs for insects throughout each day.

The house wrens have an active nest going closer to the house. Are they known to kill the offspring of other species??
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Old 05-28-2011, 09:57 PM   #2
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Wow! What a question! Seems you caught it red-handed~ House wrens are so tiny though.
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Old 05-28-2011, 10:06 PM   #3
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jack, I just did some research and yes, apparently HOWRs do predate other bird's eggs and hatchings, even close to fledging age. So sorry... Check into getting a guard to attach.
Problems with wrens on the bluebird trail (Part 6)
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Old 05-28-2011, 10:10 PM   #4
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jack, I just did some research and yes, apparently HOWRs do predate other bird's eggs and hatchings, even close to fledging age. So sorry... Check into getting a guard to attach.
Problems with wrens on the bluebird trail (Part 6)
Thanks, Sage. I'm not understanding how these wren guards can work. Seems to me anything that would block a tiny house wren would also block the chickadee??
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Old 05-29-2011, 05:57 AM   #5
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We set up a chickadee nest box this spring, complete with wood chips as nesting material. A couple of weeks later, I noticed a pile of the small chips on the ground beneath the box. A short time later, I saw a wren in the act of tossing out the chips, and then shortly thereafter bringing twigs in for her nest. No sign that chickadees ever occupied the box, though.
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Old 05-29-2011, 09:29 AM   #6
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jack,

I'm sorry for you and your chickadees.

Two years ago, I was excited to see a pair of wrens using one of my nestboxes. A pair of bluebirds was already nesting in one of the boxes out in the open. The box the wrens chose was placed too close to an outbuilding.

I excitedly wrote in to the bluebird forum saying that I now had bluebirds, tree swallows, and house wrens. I was told that the house wrens would wreak havoc on the nesting bluebirds and their young. I was unfamiliar with the house wrens and their behavior, but I've always loved the Carolina wren which I was told does not cause these problems.

At first I thought this was just a dummy nest, and I would remove the twigs inside--figuring I'd keep the pair busy so they wouldn't bother the bluebirds. One day I looked in and there were already eggs in the nest. The house wren is a native bird, so one cannot disturb the nest once it has eggs in it--not that I'd relish the idea.

Anyway, I had resigned myself to having house wrens out-competing my bluebirds (I'd been told on the forum that the bluebirds might get one successful brood raised before the house wrens appear later in the spring...but no second or third. I did check on the nest once or twice...and saw only the eggs in there, but no activity. I left them the whole season, but by fall they were still there unhatched. I still have no idea what happened to the parents. After that, I removed the nestbox from that location. Last year, was uneventful, and I'm hoping this year will be as well...but now, after reading your story, I'm concerned they'll come back.
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Old 05-29-2011, 09:37 AM   #7
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jack,

I'm sorry for you and your chickadees.


Two years ago, I was excited to see a pair of wrens using one of my nestboxes. A pair of bluebirds was already nesting in one of the boxes out in the open. The box the wrens chose was placed too close to an outbuilding.

I excitedly wrote in to the bluebird forum saying that I now had bluebirds, tree swallows, and house wrens. I was told that the house wrens would wreak havoc on the nesting bluebirds and their young. I was unfamiliar with the house wrens and their behavior, but I've always loved the Carolina wren which I was told does not cause these problems.

At first I thought this was just a dummy nest, and I would remove the twigs inside--figuring I'd keep the pair busy so they wouldn't bother the bluebirds. One day I looked in and there were already eggs in the nest. The house wren is a native bird, so one cannot disturb the nest once it has eggs in it--not that I'd relish the idea.

Anyway, I had resigned myself to having house wrens out-competing my bluebirds (I'd been told on the forum that the bluebirds might get one successful brood raised before the house wrens appear later in the spring...but no second or third. I did check on the nest once or twice...and saw only the eggs in there, but no activity. I left them the whole season, but by fall they were still there unhatched. I still have no idea what happened to the parents. After that, I removed the nestbox from that location. Last year, was uneventful, and I'm hoping this year will be as well...but now, after reading your story, I'm concerned they'll come back.
Thanks, Dap. I was bummed when I saw what they had done, and I caught the wren red-handed coming from the nest. Sad it was to see how well developed the chicks were that they had killed. I'm thinking that next year I'll take down all of the nest boxes for a year and then see if the wren doesn't find an alternative site to wreak their havoc and malicious destruction.

Was it a Carolina Wren that did the damage with you? These villains are house wrens.
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Old 05-29-2011, 10:18 AM   #8
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Sad as you may be about this please remember that it is not malicious behavior but the wrens own survival instincts at work.
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Old 05-29-2011, 11:11 AM   #9
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Sad as you may be about this please remember that it is not malicious behavior but the wrens own survival instincts at work.
Geeze, Gloria, I find it hard to accept that explanation when the victims were Chickadees. Now how could they do damage to a wren? Also, the wrens had a successful nesting going on 600 feet from the kill site. I've watched chickadees my whole life as they became my favorites from the first. I've never seen them act aggressively to another species - not once!

Yes, I took the killing of those chicks personally... Can't help myself...
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Old 05-29-2011, 09:27 PM   #10
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We now have HOWR for the 2nd year using downstairs neighbor's "decorative" nestboxes. I've watched the nest building without any idea these sweet little tiny birdies who sing so beautifully could be such predators against even bigger birds.

House Wrens as Chickadee Predator?-p1180579.jpg This is the dummy nest I think

House Wrens as Chickadee Predator?-p1180746.jpg HOWR on post

House Wrens as Chickadee Predator?-p1180762.jpg and doing an amazing job of getting the sticks into the little hole

One more bird for us to get mad at................
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