You should clean out a Wren house every spring and again in the fall, just as you would any other bird box in your garden.
If you plan to reuse your Wren house again, you should clean it out; otherwise, you can throw it away, though you shouldn’t. In order to clean out the bird home, you should first remove any unhatched eggs and bury them, then remove any remaining nesting material and wash the inside with hot, soapy water.
If you want Wrens to return to your backyard in the spring, you need to clear up their bird house before they arrive.
If you want Wrens to continue using your bird home as a nesting spot, you must keep it spotless at all times.
You can’t be sure the box is empty until spring, when the wrens have all but vanished, but you can check for yourself in September.
Once you’ve determined it’s safe to do so, you can check any unhatched eggs in the wren nest and bury them if you find any.
Keep in mind that this recommendation is good for both House Wrens and Berwick’s and Carolina Wrens.
To clean out the Wren house, open the hinged lid or side panel and pull the accumulated nesting material through the entrance hole.
Shake the box upside down to remove all of the contents, but do so into a trash bag, since any leftover nesting material may have parasites that could spread to other parts of the Wren house.
Even better, fill a bowl with soapy hot water and set it outside to dry to destroy any remaining bacteria.
Wait until September to January
It’s crucial that you wait until fall to clean out a Wren house, so September should find you in good shape.
However, since by then both parents and young would have likely left the nest, it is preferable to hold off until the end of September or the beginning of October.
Wren nesting activity has been documented to last through late August.
Therefore, the window of opportunity to clean the Wren box is limited to the months of September through January.
In September, after they’ve flown the coop, and in January, after the last legitimately unhatched egg has been removed, they’re free to go. Starling and house sparrow nests are not protected and can be destroyed at any moment.
It’s safe to clean the bird house in September, but if the birds haven’t left yet, it’s best not to. If you do, the wrens may abandon their nest.
Establish Wren house is vacant
Wrens prefer a bird house with a narrower entrance hole, making it trickier to re-establish the nest after the parents and young have flown the coop.
The Wren home is not utilized like a standard birdhouse, so the Wrens will build their own nest within using a variety of natural materials.
A Wren nesting in the box might go unnoticed under those circumstances.
Tap the Wren home gently and listen closely for the sound of birds nesting within the box.
When there is no sound coming from within, notably birds chirping, it’s safe to assume there are no people there.
However, you should proceed with caution and remove only a few strands of old nesting material at a time so as not to wake up a snoozing Wren or a Wren that simply refuses to show herself.
Dealing with unhatched eggs
When clearing out a Wren’s nesting material from its home, you might stumble find an unhatched egg or two.
It’s important to be gentle with the eggs in case they’re still alive, but if they appear damaged, it’s probably too late; now is the time to dispose of them in a way that’s clean and, if not respectable, at least respectful.
It would be ideal if the unhatched eggs could be buried in the least visited area of the backyard, if that’s possible. I realize it’s inconvenient, but I can’t bring myself to throw eggs out in the garbage.
But if you absolutely have to throw eggs away, I suggest wrapping them in several layers of paper towel.
Wear gloves since eggs might harbor disease; instead, you can use a rolled up paper towel to prevent touching the eggs with your bare hands.
Clear out nesting material
Similar to when you removed the unhatched eggs from the Wren’s nest, however this time the eggs would have been resting on a bed of natural nesting material.
Naturally, the original nesting material would have to be removed from a Wren bird house before a thorough cleaning would make it suitable for reuse.
To remove a well-constructed nest requires careful maneuvering, as it is not always possible to just yank it out of the ground. If you want to remove it, you’ll need to untangle it one strand at a time until it’s short enough to pass through the opening in the roof or front panel.
You can use a metal wallpaper scraper to remove nesting material that has become glued to the interior wall of the wooden bird home.
Having the kitchen trash can or a garbage bag handy will make it much easier to dispose of the nest’s debris once you’ve removed it.
Wash Wren house to reuse
The Wren house can finally be cleaned after being cleared of any remaining nesting materials or unhatched eggs.
Even after removing all of the nesting material, any remaining parasites must be killed, so soapy, boiling hot water will do the task.
A brush of any kind is unnecessary and not recommended for cleaning the bird house.
Rather, you should put the Wren nest box on the ground and pour the soapy water over it from a bucket.
Careful not to splatter yourself with the boiling water, do it from a height to generate a sort of power wash to remove any tenacious filth.
Cleaning the birdhouse doesn’t call for any special insecticides or detergents; rather, just any brand-name or generic dishwashing soap diluted in water will do the trick.
To summarize Wren house clear out
Wren houses should be emptied and cleaned every September if they are to be used again the following year.
Do not clean out the Wren hose until late September or October, when most common backyard bird house birds in the United States have left the nest.
You can check if the nest box is empty by tapping on the side of it softly and listening for any chirping sounds.
Once you know for sure that no one is staying there, you can start clearing it out.
While searching for unhatched eggs, you might start by discarding the natural nesting material the female Wren gathered. Don’t be disheartened if you stumble upon an egg or two; it happens; the honorable thing to do in this situation is to bury them.
Now, carefully separate the nesting material and insert it into the Wren house hole. Alternatively, if the Wren house has a hinged door or roof, lift it up.
You’ll need to take one more step beyond simply leaving the Wren home as is and reassembling it in the original spot.
The Wren house needs to be washed thoroughly with hot, soapy water, with special attention paid to the removal of any parasites from the interior of the bird house.
After cleaning, the birdhouse needs time to dry out before it can be used again, either in May for the start of the Wren breeding season or in January for roosting.