How to Get Birds to Nest in a Birdhouse

Written by edriaan koening
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How to Get Birds to Nest in a Birdhouse
Birds prefer plain birdhouses with no bright colours. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Birds that nest in a birdhouse belong to species that usually create holes in dead trees or use existing hollow spaces in nature. These birds include woodpeckers, owls, chickadees, bluebirds, kestrels and nuthatches. Birds have different preferences regarding the size and the location of the birdhouse, so tailor your birdhouse to the type of bird you want to attract. Placing the birdhouse outside just before the nesting season in your area also increases chances of your birdhouse being occupied.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Build or purchase a birdhouse without a perch and is not brightly coloured. Natural cavities have no perches and they only encourage exotic species such as English sparrows and European starlings to dominate the birdhouse. Birds don't find newly painted birdhouses attractive and prefer weathered paint or plain wooden surface. The birdhouse should have ventilation holes just beneath the roof. Match the birdhouse measurements to the preferences of the bird species you want to attract. For example, the barn owl likes its birdhouse to measure 22 inches wide and 18 inches tall, while the Carolina chickadee only needs a space that measures 4-inches wide and 8-inches tall.

  2. 2

    Place the birdhouse on a building, a tree or a wooden or metal post. Attach it to a surface located away from tree limbs to reduce access by snakes and other nest predators. Also add a baffle, which is a sheet of metal or plastic that fits around the pole of the birdhouse, preventing animals from climbing up. The height of the birdhouse should match the bird's preferences.

  3. 3

    Place the birdhouse at least 100 feet away from any other birdhouse or bird feeder because birds tend to be territorial during the breeding season. They will not nest in crowded places.

  4. 4

    Clean the birdhouse right before the nesting season begins in your area. If other birds have stayed in the birdhouse before, remove all their nesting materials because birds generally don't like living where other birds have lived. Many birds return to the same local area and sometimes to the same birdhouse after migration, but they also like a clean cavity.

Tips and warnings

  • Provide a bird feeder or a bird bath to make the area more attractive to birds.
  • Use untreated wood with no paint or stain in the interior surfaces because birdhouses made of artificial materials can kill young birds during hot summers, according to Bluebonnet Master Gardener Association.

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