Bird House Selection
Birds you can attract
Nesting Box Chart
Protection from Predators
Landscaping for Birds
Wren & Chickadee House
Bird House, Nest View
Lady Bug House
Wren & Chickadee House
How elaborate you make your bird house depends on your own tastes. In addition to where you place the box, the most important considerations are: box height, depth, floor dimensions, diameter of entrance hole and height of the hole above the box floor.
Refer to the following chart before building your nest box, keeping in mind that birds make their own choices, without regard for charts. So don't be surprised if you find tenants you never expected in a house you intended for someone else.
You should provide air vents in bird boxes. There are two ways to
provide ventilation: leave gaps between the roof and sides of the
box, or drill 1/4 inch holes just below the roof.
Water becomes a problem when it sits in the bottom of a bird
house. A roof with sufficient slope and overhang offers some
protection. Drilling the entrance hole on an upward slant may also
help keep the water out. Regardless of design, driving rain will
get in through the entrance hole. You can assure proper drainage
by cutting away the corners of the box floor and drilling 1/4 inch
holes. Nest boxes will last longer if the floors are recessed about
Bird houses should be easily accessible so you can see how your birds are doing and clean out the house. Monitor your bird houses every week and evict unwanted creatures such as house sparrows or starlings.
Be careful when you inspect your bird boxes-you may find something other than a bird inside. Don't be surprised to see squirrels, mice, snakes or insects. Look for fleas, flies, mites, larvae and lice in the bottom of the box. If you find insects and parasites, your first reaction may be to grab the nearest can of insect spray. If you do, use only insecticides known to be safe around birds: 1 percent rotenone powder or pyrethrin spray. If wasps are a problem, coat the inside top of the box with bar soap.
Here's how to check your nest boxes for unwanted visitors:
Watch the nest for 20-30 minutes. If you don't see or hear any birds near the box, go over and tap on the box. If you hear bird sounds, open the top and take a quick peek inside. If everything is all right, close the box. If you see problems (parasites or
predators), remove them and close the box.
Look for the entrance hole on the front panel near the top. A
rough surface both inside and out makes it easier for the adults
to get into the box and, when it's time, for the nestlings to climb
If your box is made of finished wood, add a couple of grooves
outside below the hole. Open the front panel and add grooves,
cleats or wire mesh to the inside. Never put up a bird house with
a perch below the entrance hole. Perches offer starlings, house
sparrows and other predators a convenient place to wait for
lunch. Don't be tempted by duplexes or houses that have more
than one entrance hole. Except for purple martins, cavity-nesting
birds prefer not to share a house. While these condos look great
in your yard, starlings and house sparrows are inclined to use
A bird house with easy access makes the job simple. Most bird
houses can be opened from the top, the side, the front or the
bottom. Boxes that open from the top and the front provide the
easiest access. Opening the box from the top is less likely to
disturb nesting birds. It's impossible to open a box from the
bottom without the nest falling out. While side- and front-opening
boxes are convenient for cleaning and monitoring, they have one
drawback: the nestlings may jump out. If this happens, don't
panic. Pick them up and put them back in the nest. Don't worry
that the adults will reject the nestlings if you handle them. That's a
myth; most birds have a terrible sense of smell.
If you clean out your nest boxes after each brood
has fledged, several pairs may use the nest
throughout the summer. Some cavity-nesting
birds will not nest again in a box full of old
In the fall, after you've cleaned out your nest box
for the last time, you can put it in storage or
leave it out. Gourds and pottery last longer if you
take them in for the winter. You can leave your purple martin
houses up, but plug the entrance holes to discourage starlings
and house sparrows.
Leaving your wood and concrete houses out provides shelter for
birds, flying squirrels and other animals during winter. Each
spring, thoroughly clean all houses left out for the winter.
Limiting Predator Access
Proper box depth, and roof and entrance hole design will help reduce access by predators, such as raccoons, cats, opossums,
and squirrels. Sometimes all it takes is an angled roof with a three-inch overhang to discourage small mammals.
The entrance hole is the only thing between a predator and a bird house full of nestlings. By itself, the 3/4-inch wall is not wide enough to keep out the arm of a raccoon or house cat. Add a predator guard (a 3/4-inch thick rectangular wood block with an
entrance hole cut in it) to thicken the wall and you'll discourage sparrows, starlings, and cats.