How to Choose a Birdhouse: Location Matters for Bird Nesting Boxes

According to the National Wildlife Federation, early spring is a perfect time to install a birdhouse in your yard. During this time, birds are naturally beginning to search for nesting sites. If you’re new birdhouse is in their path, you’re likely to attract a new little family to your yard.

In North America, more than 25 different species of birds will make their nest in a birdhouse if one is made available to them. In rural areas, birdhouses are usually used for primarily decorative reasons or so a dedicated bird watcher can view them. However, in many suburban and urban areas, bird nesting boxes are becoming an important way to help keep certain species healthy and continuing to populate, as the natural hollow tree trunks that bluebirds and others prefer are dwindling away.

Birds are picky about their houses

Before purchasing a birdhouse for your own yard, it’s important to know what kind of bird you’re hoping to attract. Many of the small birds who use bird nesting boxes are particular about the size, shape and entrance hole of their nest. Even the cutest little wooden home doesn’t impress a bird if it isn’t the right shape or in the perfect location to hunt for food.

Location of your birdhouse matters

Think about what type of bird you are trying to attract before purchasing a birdhouse. Many of the most popular “yard birds” have very different ideas about what makes a cozy nest. Some birds prefer to be out in the open. Others prefer some tree or shrub cover to be comfortable laying their eggs. Here’s how to know what type and where your birdhouse should go:

Choose the right type of nesting box

  • Buy a birdhouse that hangs from a tree to attract Wrens, Chicakdees and Wood Ducks.
  • Buy a birdhouse that mounts on a pole to attract bluebirds, Tree Swallows, Purple Martins.
  • Buy a nesting house that mounts on a tree for Screech-owls, American Robins and Woodpeckers.

Consider open versus private space

Wrens might want their nest to hang from a tree, but it needs to be in an open yard. Whereas, American Robins, Woodpeckers and Chickadees all prefer at least some tree cover if they’re going to nest in a particular area. Be sure to consider what trees and other shrubbery are in your yard, and their placement, before choosing your new birdhouse.

Placement of your birdhouse

Once you’ve chosen a location for your new birdhouse, it is equally as important to make sure it is placed in the proper way. This ensures that birds have an easy flight-path to the entrance, are protected from predators and can easily escape the elements. Follow these guidelines for placing your birdhouse:

  • Nesting boxes that hang from trees should be hung five feet or more above the ground and far away from the trunk to protect birds from cats and other small predators.
  • Place the opening of the birdhouse with three to five feet of open space around it. This gives the birds an open area to fly food into the nest.
  • The entrance hole should be placed away from the prevailing wind. In warm climates, place the face of the birdhouse to the north or east. This helps to keep the nest cool on hot days.

Birds are territorial

In general, more than a couple nesting boxes per acre will cause a worried bird to look elsewhere for a place to lay her eggs. Birds do not want to risk other birds coming near their nest and will not build it to close to others. The exceptions to this rule are Purple Martins, who actually prefer to nest with multiple other birds.

Once you’ve chosen the right location for your new birdhouse, browse our selection of bird houses and find just the right home for the birds in your yard!

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2 thoughts on “How to Choose a Birdhouse: Location Matters for Bird Nesting Boxes”

  1. I like that you mentioned making sure you hang your birdhouse at least five feet off the ground. That way, predators won’t be able to get to the birds. My wife and I want to put some birdhouses in this summer so we can attract more wildlife. I will definitely keep these tips in mind.

  2. I am considering buying a birdhouse for my grandmother because she loves hearing birds sing outside her home. Thanks for your tip about hanging your birdhouse a little isolated and at least five feet from the ground to keep it away from bugs and animals. My grandma lives where there’s usually warm weather, and I did not know that that means the birdhouse should face the east or the north. Thanks for the help!


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