How do I Build a Jenny Wren House?


Wrens are some of the busiest birds you'll find, but they need to rest, too. They love tight little places where they can build a nest. Some people are surprised to find wrens nesting in such things as boots or rusty buckets. Choose out-of-the-ordinary materials to build a birdhouse, such as a small coffee can, and you can make a cute and functional birdhouse that will meet the needs of the wrens in your backyard.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • 13 oz. plastic coffee can with snap-on lid
  • Quarter
  • Marker
  • Scissors with sharp tip
  • Tape measure
  • Power drill
  • 1/4-inch drill bit
  • 24-inch length of sturdy cord
  • Remove the plastic label from the outside of the coffee can. Remove the lid. Wash in hot soapy water. Rinse. Allow to dry.

  • Place the lid face-up on your work area. Locate the center of the lid with your fingers by feeling for a small raised dot on the inside of the lid.

  • Place a quarter on the lid so one edge of the quarter just touches the dot. The quarter will be between the dot and the edge of the lid, not in the center of the lid. Trace around the quarter using a marker.

  • Pierce the center of the traced circle with the tip of sharp scissors to make a starter hole for cutting. Cut out the traced circle using the scissors to make the entry hole to the wren house.

  • Locate one of the seams along the outside of the can. Measure in and mark two spots along the seam, 1 inch from each end of the can, using a tape measure and marker.

  • Drill a hole through the can at each mark on the outside of the can, using a drill and 1/4-inch drill bit. This side of the can becomes the top of the wren house.

  • Thread one end of the cord through the hole near the opening of the can, from the outside of the can to the inside. Pull the cord along the inside of the can until you come to the other hole. Thread the end of the cord up through the hole, from the inside of the can to the outside.

  • Pull the ends of the cord through the hole so each end of the cord is poking out from the outside of the can. Bring the two ends of the cord together, pulling the cord taut, and tie the ends together to form a knot to make a hanger for the can.

  • Turn the can over so the cord hanger is on the bottom. Measure and mark four spots at 1-inch intervals along one of the seam lines on the outside of the can.

  • Drill a hole through the can at each mark on the outside of the can, using the drill and 1/4 inch drill bit to make vent and drainage holes for the wren house.

  • Snap the lid onto the can. Hang the can from a branch of a tree in a spot that is out of the way.

Tips & Warnings

  • This is a good way to recycle small, plastic coffee cans.
  • Sometimes the seam lines run around the coffee can instead of length-wise. In that case, you may have to adjust your measurements accordingly or draw a guideline that runs the length of the can.
  • Wet the ends of the cord and twist them to make them easier to thread through the holes.

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  • Photo Credit House Wren (troglodytes aedon) image by Steve Byland from
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