Bad neighbors

Bluebirds, like the one pictured above, are popular birds for people to try to attract with bird houses, but it does not always work out as the human house builders might hope.

The wildlife in a backyard that encompasses brushy areas might include house wrens, mortal enemies of bluebirds.

Wrens can often be seen hunting insects in and about brush piles. They may even nest there.

House wrens do not like to share their territories with other birds, and often chase away potential neighbors. Being cavity nesters like the bluebirds, they also might grab a nesting box for themselves. At the very least, they chase bluebirds away.

Sometimes, as they are wont to do, house wrens will fill up the inside of a nesting box with sticks, making it unusable. One homeowner hung empty coconuts around his home, wondering if any birds would find them habitable. Inevitably, they were always stuffed full of twigs.

If you have a messy area around your property, you will do yourself and any bluebirds a favor. You will be clearing away habitat for ticks — and if there is standing water involved, mosquito larvae — and house wrens. It will instead be more attractive to bluebirds, which like open fields for bug hunting — and, probably, for keeping an eye out for predators.

If you are successful, you will be rewarded with having as a neighbor a bird with beautiful plumage, a lovely singing voice, and a hearty appetite for insects of all sorts.