House Wren house, June 10, 2014

The last post was about the bird, this one is about its home….

The wren will nest in a very small cavity – the bird house here is actually quite generous although it seems tiny.  The basic size is approximately 6″ x 6″.  In this case the design is with gable ends (with a 12/12 roof slope) for aesthetic purposes, but you could easily make a shed roof, which is easier.  Make all the parts first so all you have to assemble them.

The post seems very long, but it is mostly photos, so do not worry, you will not have to read too much – a picture tell a thousand words!!

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You should have a bottom, two gable ends, two bevelled sides and two roofs.  You may choose to do some initial sanding at this point before assembling the project – it is easiest to do when the pieces are apart.

Lay out the bottom and the 2 bevelled sides…there should be a small hole that corresponds to a short dowel on either side of the bottom.  This is to create a hinge for cleaning purposes at the end of the nesting season so that the house is ready for next year’s occupants.

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Place the three pieces together and temporarily insert a thin shim (in this case a small piece of 30 gauge steel) before placing a 1 -1/2″ screw in either side.  The shim will prevent the bottom from being too tightly attached to the side so that the hinge will work when all is done.  This shim may fall out on its own after the screw is tightened, and that is fine.

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After the screws are inserted, place the back on the side closest to the dowels.  Make sure that the joint at the top of the walls is flush with the slope of the gable walls.

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Then you can proceed to nail it all together. Use 2″ galvanized finishing nails so that they do not rust and discolour with the weather.  There are holes for the nails on the gable sides.Keep the top edge flush and the joint down the side even.

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Then attach the front gable in the same way.

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Ta-da: the basic house!  A note on the size of the entry hole.  The wren likes a tiny entrance hole, and the best thing is that it keeps out unwanted bird like house sparrows and starlings, both introduced species that are gradually displacing our native birds.

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The photo above shows the roof being attached using the same nails.  Start with the smaller piece.  Note that the back is flush with the edge of the roof and there will be an overhang on the front – this will both allow for the house to be hung when finished and give a protection from weather over the entrance.  

Complete the nailing of the roof:

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Then put the other half of the roof on, making sure the peak is even with the other side, and the back is flush as before.

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Finish nailing the piece.

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Put a drop of glue in the hole for the perch (not too much!!):

 

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And insert the dowel:

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When it is done you can check that the hinge works by loosening the screws so that the bottom will pivot for cleaning purposes.  When satisfied, re-install the screws.

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If you want you can set the nails using the nail set or punch:

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Check the whole thing out by hanging it on a screw:

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And there you have it!!

Now all you have to do is finishing sanding and painting, and then choose a spot for locating the house for your family of House Wrens.  They are not that particular as to the height of their home, but think of cats and other predators before choosing a location.  Also, it should not be in a place where it will be in full sun for the entire day – you do not want to cook the babies!

Good luck!

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About jhcarpentry

I am a teacher in the Construction Carpentry Program at the Chateauguay Valley Career Education Centre (CVCEC) for the New Frontiers School board. This blog is a way for me to connect with my students.
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2 Responses to House Wren house, June 10, 2014

  1. marc says:

    j
    The entrance hole looks to be about 1 inch is that right !

    • jhcarpentry says:

      Actually it is 1-1/4″ which is perfect—-to small for a starling, and if you place the house low (about 4 -5 feet off the ground) the house sparrows are not interested.

      Presto, the perfect size for a wren!!

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