How to make a wren guard (with photos)

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  • #1757
    The Original Bluebird Nut
    Admi-nut-strator
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    Due to the increasing number of problems Bluebirders have experienced with House Wrens, I’m going to sticky this thread, which is actually a compilation of a couple of different threads on the subject of making a Wren Guard from common things you might be able to find around the house.

    To those unfamiliar with it, a Wren Guard is a device used to disguise the opening on a nestbox – to shield it from view of House Wrens that may be in the area. It is by no means foolproof – they tend to work best when used BEFORE a House Wren has found a nestbox. They should be installed only after the Bluebird has laid its first egg, or any time thereafter, and once installed the box should be closely watched to be sure the female has accepted the guard and found her way into the box in time to lay the next egg, or in order to incubate the eggs or brood the hatchlings.

    There must be 2 1/2″ – 3″ clearance between the front of the nestbox opening and the guard itself.

    What follows is a discussion of some simple homemade Wren Guards that can be made in an emergency. Please – if you have a House Wren situation, post about it in this forum and we can provide you with additional information. Start a new topic, as this one is currently closed.

    Cher
     


    (Originally posted by bbcathy on Bluebirdnutcafe.yuku.com)

    OK people I’m going to try this. Let’s hope it works. I made this a few years ago in about 2 minutes in an emergency and they have worked so well I
    won’t use anything else.

    Well I wish they would have been larger but I DID IT!!! I use a three pound box and I get two of them out of it and they last all season.


    Central NY
    TMB Studios

    #1758
    The Original Bluebird Nut
    Admi-nut-strator
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    Here are some more so you can see better. I have the whole series but these should give you the idea.

    That's my daughter holding the box. Cathy


    Central NY
    TMB Studios

    #1760
    The Original Bluebird Nut
    Admi-nut-strator
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    Wren Guard ideas excerpted from the Perfect Box thread:

    A while back I mentioned those wren guard prototypes that Blaine had built and sent photos of. I contacted him and he doesn't have any desire to start
    manufacturing wren guards – he's far too busy with traps. So he gave me permission to post his photos here, for what they're worth.

    The main problem I found with the flashing was that it couldn't be bent more than a few times before it suffered metal fatigue. Maybe the vinyl flashing
    would work better – I don't know if he tried that.


    Central NY
    TMB Studios

    #1761
    The Original Bluebird Nut
    Admi-nut-strator
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    (Originally posted by “River” on bluebirdnutcafe.yuku.com)

    Cher,

    Thanks for posting Blaine's pictures – we need all the help we can get. And I appreciate your hosting offer for the plans.
    My own site is taking shape, but even with all the great templates out there, I'm still having to learn HTML, so it's slow going. I'll let you
    know.

    Speaking of the HOWR guard, the sketch below shows yet another idea. I'm waiting on samples of a material called Flexwood
    (thin veneer) and I've ordered a roll of tan vinyl flashing as well.

    The flexible material is cut to a length so it forms a half-circle, and is attached with 4 screws. The screw holes would be the
    slot-type, so it could be slipped on and off easily without tools. One side only could be detached without removing the entire guard.

    The box shown is a NABS, and at first glance it seems to work. Whether the material can withstand repeated on/off operations
    without tearing is the key. Once I have this material in hand, we can try it on other guard ideas as they hatch.


    Central NY
    TMB Studios

    #1762
    The Original Bluebird Nut
    Admi-nut-strator
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    (Originally posted by Bet from CT on bluebirdnutcafe.yuku.com)

    Very clever! I think bluebirders can be so innovative!

    I would DEFINITELY not install this BEFORE an egg was laid if you can help it. I don’t think it needs to be quite as long as the picture shows. It just
    needs to hide the hole from a passing House Wren (HOWR).

    I know some folks had experimented with a more U shaped (squared off) wren guard with sides on it. I don’t know if they ever wrote up whether it worked
    as well/better, or how readily it was accepted. Would be very interested to see what happens if you test this.

    Supposedly it is best to have the wren guard made of the same or a similar material to have it blend in with the box.

    Blaine’s design is useful in that it can be used on a FRONT opening box (the guard bends up when you open the door for monitoring.)

    Also, remember to take it off when babies are too big to be carried off by HOWR (for bluebirds, this is about day 5.) It does make it harder for the parents
    to feed. But it’s better than having the eggs/babies thrown onto the ground!

    The following was posted by Bet on the Cornell List on 6-12-09

    I’ve updated my webpage on deterring House Wrens ([url]http://www.sialis.org/wrens.htm%29[/url]
    with the following warning about wren guards (a view blocker that
    extends from the front edge of the roof to just below the entrance hole
    – see drawings and photos – [url]http://www.sialis.org/wrens.htm#drawing%29.[/url] I’m NOT saying they shouldn’t be used – just that
    they should be used CAREFULLY.

    ****

    TIMING: Watch the box after installation to verify that the nester is
    able to enter. DO NOT PUT A WREN GUARD UP AFTER EGG LAYING IS OVER
    unless you VERIFY that the parents will enter the box, especially with
    other species like Tree Swallows! If the parents refuse to go inside to
    incubate, brood or feed, the eggs or babies WILL ALL DIE! Putting up a
    wren guard before egg laying begins may result in nest abandonment with
    some species (e.g., chickadees, titmice.)

    ****

    Here’s some background.

    Wren guards were “invented” by Orthwein, and I’ve used them
    successfully on a number of Eastern Bluebird nests to deter House Wren
    attacks. (House Wren populations are increasing in my area, and so are
    attacks, in some cases farther and farther from “typical” House Wren
    habitat.)

    This year, I tried putting one up in a park on a
    chickadee nest BEFORE egg laying began, and the nest was abandoned.
    (I’ve put them on chickadee boxes during egg laying and all were
    accepted.)

    I tried one on a titmouse nest during nest building
    (in a box with a nestcam on it) and the titmouse would not go inside. I
    removed it a day later and she went in and finished the nest and laid
    eggs, which a House Wren then destroyed when they were close to
    hatching. I put one on another titmouse box during egg laying and it
    was accepted.

    I just got a very sad report from someone who put up a
    guard on a Tree Swallow box as the eggs were hatching. It was properly
    installed, even farther than 2.5″ away from the hole, but the parents
    refused to enter. The landlord went back the next day to check on the
    box, and all the babies were dead.

    Also, I’m NOT convinced that repeated removal of House
    Wren nests (especially if they are not dummy nests – removal of nests
    with nest cups or eggs is not legal under the Migratory Bird Treaty
    Act) doesn’t increase aggression (similar to experiences some trail
    monitors have had with repeated removal of House Sparrow nests and eggs
    – a discussion I am NOT suggesting we engage in again right now.) Some
    people have had good luck with moving boxes 300 feet or more away from
    brush/forest edge. I’m guessing increasing forest fragmentation (from
    development) is creating more opportunities for House Wrens.

    Anyway, I would be interested in any reports from
    others regarding success OR failure with wren guards, especially with
    regard to other species of cavity nesters. I will update
    recommendations on my website accordingly.

    Bet from CT

     


    Central NY
    TMB Studios

    #1763
    The Original Bluebird Nut
    Admi-nut-strator
    • Topics started 23
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    A post from our moderator Tamsea on bluebirdnutcafe.yuku.com – quoting a post from River, about a Wren Guard made by our other moderator, dogsandbirds, and another one by Renee.

    This first one was posted by River in the UPDATE & QUESTION thread.

    Fred says:
    “Here’s Gin’s shoe box wren guard. Just cut out one long side. Since the shoe box I had was a dark color, I brushed on a little beige latex paint (so let it rain), then popped it on with four thumbtacks. Thanks, Gin. This is simply brilliant and is so easy to make – took about five minutes including the painting.”

    This one was posted by Renee in the Heat Concerns thread. An easy way to make a guard for a peaked roof box.


    Central NY
    TMB Studios

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