When Should You Put Up Your Bird House And Bird House Placement

Mounted bird house

Click here to see how to build this bird house.

Bird house placement is important when trying to attract a mated pair of wild birds.

When Should You Put Up Your Bird House? Courtship for birds usually starts in early spring. That is also when many species will begin scouting out their nesting sites. To increase your chances of attracting a mating pair of birds, you should put your bird houses up in the winter or early spring.

Some birds will decide to move from their original nest site for many reasons and some species will raise more than one nest of baby birds per year. So don't give up if you don't get your bird house up by early spring. You still may be able to attract a nesting pair of wild birds to your bird house.


Bird House Placement

Your bird house should be placed in a way that it is accessible to you. At the end of the nesting season, in the fall, you will need to clean out the nest box to prepare for the next nesting season. Some birds may build a nest on top of another, but it is better to keep it clean.

Birds can adapt to many situations. But since you have control over your bird house placement, you should make the locations as inviting as possible. Proper placement of your bird houses will make them more inviting to the wild birds that you are trying to attract.

Depending on where you live, you should consider the direction that the hole faces. If you live somewhere that stays hot through the summer you will want to place your bird house in a place that will provide afternoon shade. Another option would be to face the opening to the north or east, to reduce the afternoon heat.


Birds that are cavity-nesters are attracted to bird houses. There are two types of cavity-nesters, primary and secondary.

The primary cavity nesters are woodpeckers, which can chisel cavities into dead or living trees that they then use for nesting sites. Once they are finished nesting, the holes are used by the secondary cavity-nesters, who are unable to excavate their own cavity. Secondary cavity-nesters will also use naturally formed cavities in dead or dying trees.

Some examples of secondary cavity-nesters are:

Baby Screech Owl

This link gives specific information for bird house placement and dimensions by species.


There are a few bird house placement options that should be avoided:

The nest box should not be placed near or facing a busy street. This will reduce the risk of being hit by a car.

The nest box should not be placed in an area with constant human activity. If a box was chosen, in a location like this, the parent birds may have to spend too much time defending their nest and not enough time eating or gathering food for their young.

The nest box should not be placed too close to your bird feeders. With the added traffic of birds feeding nearby, the parent birds will be forced to use a large amount of energy protecting their nest. I have found that placing my bird houses at least 50 feet away from the feeders works best.


How Many Bird Houses Can I Put in My Yard?

You should try to allow 1/4 –acre between most bird houses. Since most birds are territorial, an average sized yard will probably only hold one nesting pair of a specific species. Similar to nest-box height, territory size varies from species to species. While nuthatches and chickadees need one to several acres for a territory, tree swallows only need a few feet of space.


Dealing with predators:

There will always be some nests lost to predators, but there are some simple things that can be done to minimize the risk.

Make sure that the entrance hole is the right size for the wild bird that you trying to attract. A chickadee only requires an opening of 11/8 inches. Any larger and your nest box will probably be inhabited by house sparrows. For information on bird house dimensions, click here.

Never use a perch on your bird houses. Perches only invite predators.

Dealing with bird house predators must be considered when deciding on bird house placement, click here for more information.


Successfully attracting a mating pair of birds may take weeks or years. But with the right choices for bird house placement, entrance hole size, protection from predators, available food and water sources and some luck, your chances of seeing birds nesting in your bird houses is increased.



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