Types of Birdhouses – Increase Your Backyard Birds

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I cannot get enough birdhouses or birdfeeders in my yard, and I have finally figured out that I need to make little areas with specific colors and designs so that there is some semblance of order to it all!  Even birds like a “one-stop shop” that meets their food, shelter, and bathing needs!

I also found that a birdhouse is not a one size fits all situation! I learned that lesson the hard way decades ago when I tried to attract any bird I could with a decorative shingled birdhouse with doors and tiny hanging plants! It looked amazing, but when no birds came, it wasn’t so amazing!

Just like us, birds are choosy about what type of home they live in. Most birdhouses, like people’s homes, are shaped in a square or rectangular form; however, that is where the similarities end! Birdhouse entrances are of various sizes, placement heights differ, and degrees of shelter run the spectrum.

Some birds, like purple martins, want to live in one big community house! Some bird species don’t even want walls in their home, and I don’t know about you, but I love walls!

In this article, I will point out everything you need to know about birdhouse types and how to entice your flying friends to raise their families in your yard!

I will explain what you need in a birdhouse, why, what works, and what doesn’t. Greet your feathery pals with a few different birdhouses to choose from, with the appropriate context, and you and the birds will enjoy each other’s company!

Birdhouse Bottom Line

Birdhouse types seem like an infinitely expanding topic, but essentially it boils down to the same few things.

  • All birdhouses need a floor or base.
  • Most need a roof or some shelter.
  • Most need at least three sides (or covering around most of it).

That’s it. All the rest is specific to each bird type. So, you have a basic square, rounded or rectangular structure for all birds. The dimensions of this birdhouse will differ, but it’s not like birdfeeders with different shapes and materials like caging, etc. A square form can be softened and molded into a spherical shape for birdhouses, but it still has a floor, “sides,” and “roof.”

Platform Birdhouses

Platform Birdhouses are either a platform shelf or a box missing the front side. It also may or may not have a roof. This is because it will be placed in a sheltered area anyway, so a roof may not be needed. This type is for non-cavity nesting birds like Cardinals, Mourning Doves, BlueJays, and Barn Swallows.

House Birdhouses

House Birdhouses have a bottom platform, four walls, and a large overhanging roof. There is also an entrance hole of different sizes for different birds. It is one house meant for one pair of birds to raise a family. This kind makes up the majority of all the birdhouses and is used for the majority of birds.

Purple Martin

Purple Martins need a huge mansion apartment complex for their needs, so you will see a House Birdhouse but with many levels. It could be three houses on the bottom, three on the top, and three in the middle. Because these are so big, they are generally rounded in the front.

Every birdhouse you see will be an adaptation of these. Different materials are used in decorative styles, such as moss or twigs to make the house, but it still has sides, a top and bottom, and an entrance hole.

3 Types of Birdhouses

Platform Birdhouses (Shelf/Ledge)

“House” Birdhouses

Purple Martin Birdhouses

balcony speaker as a "Platform Birdhouse"
Here’s my resident Mourning Dove using my balcony speaker as a “Platform Birdhouse” Photo by Richelle Tieman
platform "birdhouse"
Same resident Mourning Dove nesting on my balcony under a covered and very sheltered area. Note that there are no walls to its platform “birdhouse” Photo by Richelle Tieman

Important Birdhouse Features

It’s All About the Entrance

Hands down, the entrance hole is the most important feature of any birdhouse. This is where the adult birds will get into their house and where the baby birds will stick out their heads with open mouths.

You may end up catering to a different set of birds if your birdhouse has too big or too small an entrance. It’s surprising what a difference 1/8″ makes for a birdhouse hole. Too small and feathers get damaged, and too big and predators can get in.

People often complain about starlings, bluejays, and sparrows because they bully other birds and take over nesting sites. It is fairly easy to minimize birdhouse intrusion by these larger birds by focusing on several factors:

  1. Bluejays don’t like enclosed birdhouses, they prefer platform nesting sites with just a bottom, top, and back – no sides
  2. Starlings need an entrance hole at least 1 1/2″ to fit into – focus on smaller entrance hole birdhouses
  3. Sparrows need an opening of at least 1 1/4″ to crawl through

If you get a birdhouse with four walls and an entrance of less than 1 1/2″, you have solved two out of three problems! Putting up a house or two for sparrows away from the other birdhouses will also manage the housing conflict!

Birdhouse Entrance Sizes

Size Birds
1 ⅛ Chickadee, Warbler
Woodpecker, Wren, Titmouse, Nuthatch, Chickadee
1⅜ Tree Swallow
Eastern Bluebird, Wren, Swallow, Flycatcher, Nuthatch
1⅝ Flycatcher, Mtn. Bluebird
2 Finch
Purple Martin, Flicker
3 Kestrel, Screech Owl
4 Wood Duck,
6 Barn Owl

Birdhouse Material

I will go over the most frequently used woods to build birdhouses and also polywood, which is a super-human material that is oblivious to the climate.  It’s almost impossible to destroy this! Note: stay away from metal birdhouses – they hold heat in the summer and freeze in the winter.


The best material for a birdhouse is either wood (untreated) or polywood. I like cedar because it’s lightweight and has great insulating properties. In the winter, it’s important to help birds conserve their energy, and providing them with a warm abode will have them coming back again and again.

Cedar is also common, easily manipulated, and exceptionally popular for birdhouses.  Woodworkers list this as the best material for birdhouses because it doesn’t expand when it’s hot, or contract when it’s cold, is naturally durable, and has oils that repel insects and bugs (minimizing rot).

This is great for the harshest weather in the most open areas!


Redwood is another great choice if you’re looking for a material that is super resistant to weather and will last a lifetime. It is a bit softer than cedar and may get dented easily, but that shouldn’t affect the birdhouse’s effectiveness.

This material is hardy in any climate and, like cedar, has natural oils that make it decay-resistant. Redwood birdhouses are also affordable and common but tend to be smooth.  Using wire brushes or sandpaper to roughen up the texture is recommended.


Pine is also commonly used for birdhouses and is less expensive than Redwood. Make sure you get at least a one-inch thickness for all birdhouse dimensions, as thin pine can rot and decay. A bonus is that pinewood absorbs paint exceptionally well, more than other woods.  Use this if you are putting a birdhouse in a sheltered area.


Polywood is also a great choice because it’s virtually indestructible and immune to the weather. Polywood doesn’t breathe, so the ventilation and drainage holes are extra important in your birdhouse. At least one tiny ventilation hole in each wall and four drainage holes in the bottom corners are the usual standards.

Also, since polywood can be smooth and slippery, buy one with a textured surface or ready-made grooves inside and out near the opening. It’s good to have some lower-grade sandpaper on hand to give it a once-over and rough up the walls, especially near the entrance.  Hatchlings will also need the texture inside to crawl up to the hole.

*****If you are building your birdhouse, use galvanized or marine-grade screws so they won’t rust and decompose over time! Screws are also easier to take out, and they are far superior to nails for holding things together! Never use staples, as they are easily jarred from the wood and can injure the birds!

Purple Martin House with three levels
My Purple Martin House with three levels – Photo by Richelle Tieman
Finch house
This is my Finch house – Photo by Richelle Tieman

Birdhouse Roofs

Chickadee house
This is my Chickadee house – Photo by Richelle Tieman

It’s important to have a large enough roof to overhang the front and sides of the birdhouse for those birds that like a covering. This extended roof serves to keep out predators and keep the nest dry and protected from heavy wind. The birdhouse roof should slope downward for rain and snow to slide off easily.

Pay particular attention to the space where the roof meets the back wall of the birdhouse. Because the roof is angled, the flat back edge of the roof will be tilted forward, so only the very bottom edge touches the back wall.

This will let rain and snow into your birdhouse and drive out your birds. A well-made birdhouse will have an appropriately angled back roof edge, so the entire edge lays flat against the back wall (see the red circle in the picture below).

How far should your birdhouse roof stick out? Building kits vary from not at all (not recommended) to four inches. I prefer more coverage, especially if the birdhouse will be in an open space with no tree canopy. I have found that five or six inches work exceptionally well for my preferences, as it deters predators and virtually eliminates any wind, snow, or rain getting in the birdhouse!

SISTERBIRD Bird HouseBirdhouse Inside Grooves Ladder

Smaller birds will appreciate four or five “rungs” placed inside the birdhouse under the entrance. These are carved out and shallow and will help the chicks climb out of the house.  Swallows and bluebirds need a bit of extra assistance getting out as well! (See green arrow and circle in the picture above).

Ventilation and Drainage Holes for your Birdhouse

ventilation anddrainage holes for your birdhouse SISTERBIRD Bird House

Just as important as keeping your flying friends warm and toasty in the winter is keeping them cool and well-aired out in the summer. I hate stuffy, hot (or cold!) rooms that need a window opened, and birds are used to having plenty of fresh air moving around at all times.

Having at least two ventilation holes high up on the sides of your birdhouse will create circulation for the air inside the closed space. This provides fresh oxygen for the birds as well as maintains the temperature. (See the pink arrow in the picture above).

Drainage holes should be on the bottom of your platform or birdhouse and at least one inch from the edges. Many people who make their birdhouses cut the triangular corners of the bottom platform to create drainage. The openings should be half an inch to allow proper water drainage, but not more than 3/4″ (don’t want eggs slipping out!)

Birdhouse Bottom

Another aspect to consider is the bottom of the birdhouse. The platform that the nest will sit on. It’s helpful to have the four sides (or at least two) extend down past the bottom a few inches to keep rain as far as possible from the drainage holes. This will keep the birdhouse dry and make it more resistant to mildew and rot. (Note the birdhouse bottom in the above picture).

Fun Fact: Purple Martins enjoy community living with the same species of birds in a large apartment complex-like birdhouse! Because of this close living, the body heat given off is multiplied, and the buildup of hot air requires extra ventilation holes and a very light color (white is the best color) on the outside to reflect the heat

How Big Should My Birdhouse Be?

Birds are inherently aware of what size entrance and how large overall their home should be, so they will recognize your birdhouse’s unique dimensions and assess whether it feeds their needs for comfort, safety, and space. They are so tuned in to specific distances that even one inch can make or break the success of your birdhouse.

The size of their brood, or how many eggs are laid, is also a factor in determining how large a space they need to raise their family. More eggs mean a larger birdhouse width.

The size of the bird matters as well, and four 6-inch birds will need more headroom than three four-inch birds!  Smaller birds also need the entrance hole to be closer to the floor so they can crawl out, larger birds need more room before an entrance appears.

Bird Species

Floor (LxW)


Entrance Hole Height (from the floor)

American Kestrel 8×8 inches 12-15 inches 9-12 inches above the floor
Bluebirds 5×5 8-12 6-10
Chickadees and Titmice, Nuthatches 4×4 8-10 6-8
Flycatchers 6×6 8-12 6-10
House Finch, Warbler 6×6 6 4
Northern Flicker 7×7 16-18 14-16
Woodpecker 8×8 16-24 12-20
Purple Martin 6×6 6 1-2
Wood Duck 10×18 10-24 12-16

How to Choose the Right Birdhouse to Attract the Right Birds

You wouldn’t think finding a birdhouse built to do the job right would be complex. If you go on Amazon or Wayfair, hundreds of birdhouses are available in every color and style, and it’s tempting to impulsively go with the one that best suits your tastes – I have done that too many times! However, there are a few things to think about before you add that birdhouse to your cart and click “buy now.”

It’s not difficult to get an appropriate birdhouse for the specific birds you want to attract, even though all the literature out there may present it as such. I like to boil every buying decision down to a few questions that will guide you in the right direction for the results you want, and birdhouses are no exception to that rule.

The most important question is what bird you want to attract. If you don’t already know, ask yourself what purpose your birdhouse will serve. If you want a birdhouse so you can have a bird that clears the yard from pesky insects, owls are fantastic pest vacuums! Right away, you know you will need a larger hole and birdhouse, and that begins your quest!

For example, I know that sparrows like to call everything their own and take over birdhouses if they can. Therefore, I will focus on birdhouses with entrance holes no larger than 1 and 1/5″ (one and a quarter inches being the smallest hole sparrows can get into), and I am attracting my friend the Chickadee with this smaller hole.

Here are the questions I always ask before adding a birdhouse to a friend’s yard or my own:

  1. What specific bird do you want to attract?
  2. Do you want to install a birdhouse post?
  3. Is your yard/habitat cleared of shrubs and trees, or is it wooded?
  4. Do you frequently have raccoons, snakes, cats, and squirrels in your yard?

Specific Birdhouses for Specific Birds

Specific birdhouses are what I call birdhouses made especially to accommodate certain types of birds. Some birdhouses have large, sheltering roofs, others are just a platform, while some are large, multi-bird apartment complexes! Some face east, some face west, some birdhouses are in the sun, and others are in the shade. Knowing what makes your special bird species feel safe and relaxed is important.

I’m partial to Bluebirds, and they need at least a 1 1/2″ hole in the birdhouse, but that means that wrens and sparrows can also get in. The solution? I must put up several birdhouses spaced far apart (20 or more feet), in the sun, and in the open, cleared land. This minimizes the chance that wrens or sparrows will want to nest in them and gives bluebirds, nuthatches, and titmouses plenty of space.

Wren birdhouse
This is my Wren birdhouse! – Photo by Richelle Tieman

The most fun I have is when I already have my specific birds visiting each day, and I want to add another birdhouse to see what I get! Several months ago, I put up a simple, beautifully constructed polywood birdhouse, and I”m not sure it will work in its current location.  It’s in a tree, about 8 feet high and about two feet from the trunk. You can see it in the picture below.

What Birds Use Birdhouses?

Every region in the United States can boast more than two dozen species of birds that will use birdhouses. These birds are referred to as “cavity nesters,” A few of the most common are wrens, swallows, sparrows, chickadees, bluebirds, doves, and purple martins. Other cavity nesters that can be attracted include owls, robins, titmice, woodpeckers, and nuthatches.

The best way to know what birds will come to your birdhouse is to know your area’s common backyard birds. I will break it down into a general U.S. listing so you can get an idea of what type of birdhouses to look at based on how common your backyard birds are.

Mourning Doves, Cardinals, Robins, Crows, Bluejays, Sparrows, Blackbirds, Starlings, Goldfinches, Woodpeckers, and Chickadees are the most prevalent year-round birds in the United States. Other birds, such as Flickers, Titmouses, Nuthatches, Mockingbirds, Wrens, Catbirds, Cowbirds, and Warblers, are frequent fliers in some states.

I am partial to Chickadees and Bluebirds and am lucky to have lived in states that see all of them! A large part of attracting birds to your birdhouses is providing them with the type of food they like.  Some birds eat mostly insects, and some eat mostly seeds. Having plants and flowers that attract a large variety of insects is important for attracting insect-eating birds to your yard!

Breakdown of Birds That Use Birdhouses

According to the Cornell Lab bird sightings data, if you saw a bird in the summer and live in the United States, these are the probability statistics of each bird:

U.S. Summer Back Yard Birds  (probability that you saw that bird)

American Robin (44%) Northern Cardinal (31%) European Starling (22%) Black-capped Chickadee (15%)
Mourning Dove (40%) American Goldfinch (27%) House Finch (21%) Northern Mockingbird (15%)
Red-winged Blackbird (32%) Swallow (24%) Downy Woodpecker (17%) House Wren (15%)
      Northern Flicker (15%)

These are the statistics from Cornell for the winter:

U.S. Winter Back Yard Birds  (probability that you saw that bird)

Northern Cardinal (32%) House Finch (23%) Red-bellied Woodpecker (20%) Black-capped Chickadee (18%)
Mourning Dove (29%) European Starling (23%) Song Sparrow (19%) White-breasted Nuthatch (18%)
Blue Jay (24%) American Robin (21%) Tufted Titmouse (19%) Yellow-rumped Warbler (17%)
Downy Woodpecker (24%) American Goldfinch (20%) House Sparrow (19%) Northern Mockingbird (16%)
      Carolina Wren (15%)

Mounting your Birdhouse on a Post

Birdhouse Posts, Poles, Augers, and Ground Sleeves

When I talk about birdhouses, I can’t forget that a birdhouse is only as good as its mounting material. The best birdhouse isn’t much good if it’s tilting or falling off the tree, pole, or fence post. Super important to pay attention to how you will get your birdhouse off the ground.

Putting a post in the ground may seem like a lot of work, but once you get the post, it’s just a matter of digging a deep enough hole.  Depending on your soil type, you may need to mix a small bit of concrete at the bottom, but hardware stores sell these neat, inexpensive ready-to-make packages.

Your mounting post can be any red cedar or severe weather pressure-treated wood, or it could even be a metal mounting pole for your birdhouse  I like wooden posts myself because I can paint the post any color I want, and it’s easy for me to drill into when attaching the bottom or the back of the birdhouse – and, of course, I love the way a white wooden post looks!

(Never paint the inside of a birdhouse as it is toxic for birds. It’s okay to paint the post, but I wouldn’t even paint the outside of a birdhouse – get one already colored).

If you go with a metal pole in the ground to mount your birdhouse, get one with an auger on the bottom. The auger (ground screw) will anchor the pole and provide a sturdy base for your birdhouse.

Stakes don’t do the job nearly as well, and if you opt for a pole with stakes at the bottom to stabilize it, your birdhouse should be no more than one or two pounds at most.  Over several months, it could easily start to tilt to one side and then come out of the ground altogether.

You can buy stand-alone augers with a base to insert your post, or you can get a pole with an attached auger. I like the latter method because I don’t have to measure anything or worry about the auger or ground sleeve not being sturdy enough.

The other option available for steadying your birdhouse pole is a “ground sleeve.” This is usually a hollow square or circular metal tube that you pound into the ground 18 – 24″ and then insert your pole (your pole only goes a few inches into the ground, if at all).  Make sure to measure the diameter of your pole to verify you can snugly fit it into the ground sleeve.

bluebird birdhouse
This is for my bluebird friends – Photo by Richelle Tieman
Another birdhouse!!!! – Photo by Richelle Tieman

What Kind of Birdhouse Habitat Do You Live In?

Survey your yard and note how many trees, tall shrubs, low scrubby vegetation, grasses, and water sources you have. Do you have any wood piles or building structures like a detached garage, woodshed, carriage house, utility shed, or animal cage? This is essential for maximizing your chances of attracting the right birds.

Birdhouses, Raccoons, Snakes, and other Predators

Which word does not fit in with the rest? Birdhouses definitely do not fit in with raccoons and snakes. Along with the theme that your birdhouse is only as good as the post or pole it’s on, your birdhouse is only as good as your predator deterrent.

Use a baffle about six inches or a foot under your birdhouse but make sure it’s at least four feet off the ground! This will keep out squirrels and other intruders that will eat the birds and eggs.

The best baffle is a large stovepipe-shaped deterrent at least 8 inches wide and 24 inches long. It must be this large to stop raccoons, squirrels, snakes, and other climbing bandits. If raccoons are not a problem, but squirrels and cats are, you can get away with a 15-inch long baffle if you place it four or five feet off the ground. I have an acrobatic cat, so I have mine as high as I can get them!

How High to Hang Your Birdhouse

Accommodating birds is almost as tiresome as catering to children’s preferences, but once you get the hang of how a few bird species like to live, it’s easy to maintain their birdhouses year after year. (My children’s preferences change year after year!)

How far off the ground your birdhouse is will depend upon the type of bird you are trying to attract. All nesting birds like their homes at different levels for safety, access to food and water, perching locations, and flight preferences.

Some birdhouse heights are no-brainers, like for owls or ducks, and need to be 15-40 feet off the ground. Purple Martins seem to think they will reincarnate into owls, as their preferred nesting height is 15-20 feet off the ground!

My friends, the Chickadees, love to have a birdhouse right over scrub bushes and dense thicket, about 5 to 10 feet off the ground, and house wrens are likely to pick a birdhouse in a tree and 6-10 feet off the ground.

Bluebird Birdhouses

Bluebirds are on almost everyone’s list of favorite birds to watch, and I am no exception! Their populations declined dramatically due to land development, but they have begun to increase again thanks to policies protecting and encouraging their growth. Nest boxes and birdhouses are a large part of the Bluebird’s continued sustenance.

Protecting my birdhouses from sparrows and catering to bluebirds has become my second nature. Whenever I replace or add a birdhouse for Bluebirds, I always start with two birdhouses. Call me over the top, but I adhere to my family’s generational adage, “If you want to do something, do it right, and if you want it done right, do it yourself!”  (That also causes a lot of work for me!)

I use my wide open area of the yard for the location of the birdhouses; no shrubs or trees or other obstacles to block the Bluebird’s clear line of sight and flight path to their birdhouse.

Bluebirds love the sun and large, empty places, so pick the sunniest place in your yard, far away from your house and other structures. Bluebirds need plenty of room around their birdhouse to watch for predators and feel safe. Keep the birdhouse at least 30 feet away from trees or bushes.

Bluebirds like grass that is short and kept clipped so they can use it for their nesting cups. The tightly woven, tidy grass cup shape tells you if a bluebird has made its nest in your birdhouse. If it’s messy and loose with random materials, it’s probably not a bluebird’s nest. The most likely culprit is a wren, and the best way to deter wrens from your Bluebird birdhouses is to stay away from scrubby vegetation and bushes.

Mount your bluebird birdhouse on a pole or post, and secure both the post/pole and the birdhouse tightly, so there’s no chance of tipping or wobbling. That birdhouse movement is enough to unsettle birds, and they will leave, thinking that the birdhouse is not a stable home.

If you are lucky enough to live near a field, the ideal position for your birdhouse would be for the entrance hole to face the field while in an open area. The field will host a diverse and plentiful supply of insects that will sustain adult and baby Bluebirds.

Not everyone has this luxury, and most of my homes have not offered this extra benefit, so don’t worry if this is impossible. Entrance holes facing east for Bluebird Birdhouses are preferable.

The birdhouse height is also important for the birds’ safety, and Bluebirds will choose birdhouses that are 5 to 10 feet off the ground. To increase your chances of having a Bluebird raise its family in your birdhouse, put out mealworms. They come either dried or live, and Bluebirds will eat either but prefer live. Bluebirds have a diet of mostly insects, so the more handy foods you can provide, the better.

Place your birdhouses 50 to 75 feet apart for Bluebirds, as they like to maintain an independent, single-room birdhouse. Their birdhouse should have a 1 1/2″ entrance hole and be 6″ x 6″ x10″.

Chickadee Birdhouses

Chickadees are another favorite of mine, and this small creature was sighted daily in the winter, with the black coloring contrasting beautifully with the white snow. I love to put up birdhouses for this little friend in a thicket or next to small trees and bushes.  I still hear the “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” ringing in my ears to this day! (It’s a good ringing!)

Birdhouses that cater to chickadees offer close vegetation and ground cover that reaches 3 or 4 feet high. They will use birdhouses that are 6 to 14 feet in the air (4-8 feet above vegetation), above tall scrub, or in a grouping of short trees.

Chickadees like to be sheltered, and your birdhouse should have an extended roof that sticks out on each side 3″-4″; try putting a few wood shavings on the bottom to be used as nesting material.

The birdhouse entrance should face away from the dominant wind direction to minimize heavy winds affecting flight.

Birdhouses catering to Chickadees, Titmice, and Nuthatches should be 5″x5″x8″ and have a 1 1/4 to 1 1/2″ inch entrance.


Question: Should I Put Out Nesting Material?

Answer: Well, the short answer would be not really. Just don’t clean up after pruning or weeding. I know that would drive some people crazy, like me, for one, but gather your debris in a pile or a few piles. Birds are specialists in nest building and making a birdhouse a home! They know what their particular species needs in a nest, and they are hardwired to go out and find it!
If you have trees, you already have tiny branches, leaves, and other fibrous material on the ground. Leave it as is, or break down larger sticks into tiny twigs. Moss is a great material because it is soft to use inside the nest, and birds like it to camouflage the outside of their homes to protect them from predators.
Other materials are dried leaves, downy fluff from cottonwood and cattails, and straw and pine needles. Pine needles are a favorite of nesting birds to weave into a cup.
Don’t put out anything man-made like plastics. Yarn, string, and human hair can get wrapped around a bird’s feet and neck, so steer clear of those. Dryer lint will be frequently picked up by birds to make a nest, but it disintegrates in moisture! Also, avoid using grass clippings (unless you don’t use fertilizer or pesticides).

Question: What kind of birdhouse do Robins like?

Answer: Short answer is Robins like flat platforms to nest on, not birdhouses. Birds like Phoebes, Barn Swallows, Robins, Mourning Doves, BlueJays and Cardinals use shelves and ledges (sometimes attached to your house) to roost in and won’t usually enter a birdhouse.
A flat bottom or a platform with a short border around it will draw these birds in and encourage them to nest.  Robins like a very sheltered space, and you will usually find mourning doves up on balcony beams and under roof eaves, or on top of porch wall art!  Robins like nesting shelves about 5 – 25 feet off the ground. Try getting a nesting shelf or a covered nesting shelf for Robins non-cavity nesting birds.

Question: When Should I Put My Birdhouse Out?

Answer: Short answer is – as soon as you get it. Birdhouses may be used year-round for non-migratory birds, and you will be providing them with a permanent home, so it doesn’t matter if you put it out in November, February, or July.  Birdhouses will begin to see nesting behavior by your backyard birds as early as February in milder climates of the south and mid to late March if you live in the north.
Some birds will continue to brood well into July with multiple sets of eggs, and others will brood just once during a shorter window of May to June. Your best bet for attracting nesting birds with a birdhouse is to get several different birdhouses and place them according to the likes of your favorite birds!

Question: Is it True that You Shouldn’t Disturb a Nest?

Answer: Short answer is that it depends on what you mean by disturb. If you mean move it or destroy it, then yes, generally, you shouldn’t do that because it probably is against the law. That said, if it is a Starling or a House Sparrow, you may remove the nest, as there are no laws protecting these invasive birds.
If you mean to disturb, as in monitoring, or checking on the nest, then yes, you should disturb it! Birdhouses have one side that opens or flips up or down, so you can check regularly (once or twice each week) to ensure the eggs and babies are healthy. You should try to be as calm and quiet as possible and keep your visits to less than a minute. Many sites allow you to record your findings and pictures, such as NestWatch.

Question: Isn’t it Harmful to Clean Out a Birdhouse?

Answer: Short answer is no. Twice a year, during the late winter/early spring and late summer/early fall, it’s helpful to scrape out everything from the birdhouse so the birds can start over fresh the next year. You can use an ice or paint scraper or sponge with mild soap and water. Only clean the birdhouse after the chicks have flown off, and no adults live there.

Question: How do I Know What Type of Birdhouse to Use?

Answer: The type of birdhouse you will use depends on what bird you are trying to attract. First, find out what the common backyard birds are for your state in the chart below. Then determine if that bird likes birdhouses with walls or not, and how big an entrance hole you should have.
Check out the chart of birdhouse dimensions according to bird species in the article above.  Most birds will use the common “house” birdhouse if they are cavity nesters. The rest will use platform birdhouses attached to a tree or building structures. It’s only the Purple Martins that need an entire resort to raise their family!

Find Your States Most Common Backyard Birds:

If you are looking for a breakdown of backyard birds by state, there’s a handy list on the site “what birds are in my backyard.”

Common backyard birds of Alabama Common backyard birds of Delaware Common backyard birds of Iowa Common backyard birds of Massachusetts Common backyard birds of Nebraska Common backyard birds of North Carolina Common backyard birds of Rhode Island Common backyard birds of Vermont
Common backyard birds of Arizona Common backyard birds of Florida Common backyard birds of Kansas Common backyard birds of Michigan Common backyard birds of Nevada Common backyard birds of North Dakota Common backyard birds of South Carolina Common backyard birds of Virginia
Common backyard birds of Arkansas Common backyard birds of Georgia Common backyard birds of Kentucky Common backyard birds of Minnesota Common backyard birds of New Hampshire Common backyard birds of Ohio Common backyard birds of South Dakota Common backyard birds of Washington
Common backyard birds of California Common backyard birds of Idaho Common backyard birds of Louisiana Common backyard birds of Mississippi Common backyard birds of New Jersey Common backyard birds of Oklahoma Common backyard birds of Tennessee Common backyard birds of West Virginia
Common backyard birds of Colorado Common backyard birds of Illinois Common backyard birds of Maine Common backyard birds of Missouri Common backyard birds of New Mexico Common backyard birds of Oregon Common backyard birds of Texas Common backyard birds of Wisconsin
Common backyard birds of Connecticut Common backyard birds of Indiana Common backyard birds of Maryland Common backyard birds of Montana Common backyard birds of New York Common backyard birds of Pennsylvania Common backyard birds of Utah Common backyard birds of Wyoming

Last Thoughts on Birdhouse Types

Just like every bird isn’t going to be your favorite, every birdhouse won’t be what you want.  There are so many measurements for each birdhouse available that first it is important to narrow down the bird you hope to see.

Once you do that, jot down the entrance hole size, the “box” dimensions, and how high your favorite species likes to roost, and then look at all the beautiful birdhouses to find one with those specifications!

You know you have truly “arrived” when birds start to call your birdhouse their home and choose to raise their family with you year after year. I can’t think of a better reflection of my efforts than looking into a nest and seeing eggs! I hope you agree!

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