Each bird species has their own requirements
for dimensions so whether
you want to buy
or build a birdhouse consider the
needs of the bird the house is for.
Below is a bird house plan or if you prefer
here are some books with many designs.
Where to put a bird house, types of birds it
may attract, and other information are below the nest box
Design and construction of your bird house or nest box is
important. Just as important is where you put the bird house.
The tools needed for the above nestbox are a
handsaw or power saw, hammer, screwdriver, electric drill with
1/4 inch bit, and wood boring bit for making the entrance
Wood that is 5/8 to 3/4 inch thick will
insulate the young birds, and eggs from excessive heat and
cold. Try to avoid pressure treated lumber since it can be harmful to
birds. The roof of the bird house should slop so
rain drains off. Let it over lap the sides and front by
around 1 Ĺ inches. It helps to score a 1/8th inch groove in
the underside of the roof about an inch from the front. This
is a drip line. Attach two small shelves inside the front.
This helps the young birds learning to fly. Drill several ľ
inch ventilation holes in the sides above the level of the
opening. Have one side, or the top hinged for cleaning,
and removal of old nests. The bird house should be cleaned at
least once a year. You can use metal hinges for this or a
piece of rubber or leather works for the top. If you use the
side for this attach a latch to keep it closed.
Finally drill some ľ inch holes in the bottom for drainage.
Do not add a perch as this can attract predators and the
adult birds may leave.
Galvanized nails or screws will last longer than ordinary
nails. Gluing all the joints before you nail them will extend
the life of your bird house. Seal the sides with sealant as
you build, to make the box both windproof and waterproof.
Painting the box is not necessary. Some colors may even
discourage birds from nesting. If you do paint the box keep in
mind that lead based paints and creosote can be harmful to
birds. Dull, light colors reflect
heat, and are less conspicuous to predators. You should seal the sides with sealant as you build, to make the
box both windproof and waterproof. You can use a coat of
linseed oil to keep the wood from drying out. Again be careful
because some wood preservatives can be harmful to birds.
you do use a preservative do not treat the inside.
Before assembling the pieces drill a hole at
the top of the back board so you can attach it to a pole or
The dimensions for this house are for Bluebirds. There are
over two dozen birds in North America that will nest in bird
Click here for a list of bird
house dimensions for other birds.
While most birdhouses are made of wood, you
can buy aluminum houses for Martins. Many people make
birdhouses out of gourds for wrens and martins.
Try to place the bird house where it is
shaded from the hot sun. A little morning sun will not hurt.
Most birds like a clear flight path into the nest box. To
attract birds you might try placing a small piece of dried
moss inside. If possible have the hole facing away from
the prevailing wind so rain does not blow in.
Different habitats attract different birds. Observe the bird
you want to attract in its natural habitat and try to
recreate it. There are many things you can do in your yard.
One thing you can do is provide bird
feeders and water. Do not put the food to close to
the bird house or they may not use it for fear of predators.
You may even want to plant trees or shrubs, birds can
perch on to survey the feeder for predators from a safe
If You Build it They Will Come
light level changes caused by early late winter and early
spring affect the hormones of birds and they start their
males will start singing, and trying to attract mates.You may see them checking your bird house out.They will land and peer into the opening.Any other cavities such as a hole in a tree or opening
in a close line post will also be investigated.Once they decide on a house they will start to bring
nesting material.Usually this means they will nest here but the birds could
still choose a different location.
Predators and Unwanted Competitors
This is a good place to mention competitors
that many people consider a nuisance. Starlings and
sparrows were both imported to the U.S. They are both
very aggressive cavity nesters, and often take over houses that
other birds might nest in. Neither of them is protected
by law, like most other birds. Sometimes repeatedly
removing their nesting material will persuade them to go
elsewhere. Some people resort buying traps to get rid of
Not all birds will use a bird house or nest box.
Those that do will want protection from predators, and easy access to food, and water. Bird houses mounted on
metal poles are less vulnerable to predators than houses
nailed to tree trunks or hung from tree limbs. Birds
have many predators.
Raccoons and Snakes
are very common predators that are a
danger to the birds, their young, and eggs. Claw marks on
your birdhouse or nesting material pulled from the entrance
are signs that you may have a raccoon around.
Dogs may get young birds during
Cats are always a danger. If you
have a cat try using a bell collar. The period when
young birds are learning to fly is one of the most dangerous
for them and they may be unable to escape the clutches of a
cat. When the house is occupied a cat may reach in a get
young birds or even catch parents trying to protect their
young. Some people have had success by wrapping a piece
of tin around a tree or post creating a cat guard so the cat
canít climb up.
Squirrels can damage the bird
house. If they get in they can eat the eggs. A predator guard of sheet metal
added to the entrance hole will
usually take care of this.
Birdhouses mounted on metal poles are less
vulnerable to predators than houses nailed to tree trunks or
hung from tree limbs. Many people smear the poles with a
petroleum jelly, and hot pepper mixture. A 2-foot section
of 4 inch PVC pipe around the pole will help with raccoons and
squirrels. This will also help if you have a squirrel
problem on a bird feeder. If you have snakes, in
addition to the PVC pipe spread a few shovels of sharp gravel
around the base. Another advantage to mounting your
birdhouse on a steel pole is you can easily move anywhere you
Other wild animals such as snakes, and raccoons
are a danger the birds, their young and eggs.
Houses mounted on metal poles are the most
difficult for predators to reach. Many people smear the poles with a petroleum jelly and hot pepper
mixture. A 2 foot section of 4 inch PVC pipe around the
pole will help with raccoons and squirrels. This will
also help if you have a squirrel problem on a bird
feeder. If you have snakes, in addition to the PVC pipe
spread a few shovels of sharp gravel around the base.
Many insects lay their eggs and pupate
in bird houses. You should inspect your bird houses for signs
of gypsy moths, blow flies, ants, gnats, bees, and wasps.
Coating the inside of the roof with bar soap will help keep
bees and wasps from attaching their nests. Birdhouses
should be cleaned out each spring and after nesting prevent a
build up of parasites and mites. Plugging the holes in
winter is also a good idea as it will discourage mice or
starlings from living in the house.
Number of Bird Houses
Itís a good idea to have several houses because there is
always a shortage of available cavities, and a number of birds
will compete for the same house. Do not place the nest boxes to close together as it creates
unwanted completion. To many in one location can also
be a problem.
Birds that will not use a nest box.
Many birds such as cardinals or orioles will not use bird
houses. You can still attract them to bird
feeders and water. If you do they may stay and nest
in nearby trees. For types of food visit our Food - Feeding page.
Another good choice for a free bird house is natural
gourds. Many people grow their own gourds, and they are very
attractive nest boxes.