How to Choose the Right Bird Houses

The Backyard Naturalist’s Tips for Choosing a Wild Bird House

A good bird house, also referred to as a nest box, simulates the perfect natural home for cavity nesters, not only to provide protection, privacy and comfort but also to meet individual species biological requirements and preferences, too. (Not all birds are cavity nesters, including Cardinals, Bluejays, Goldfinches and Robins.)

Good Bird House Design

Species Specific

When staff at The Backyard Naturalist says all wild bird houses we stock are “anatomically” or ornithologically correct, we mean that some thought and research has gone into the design to ensure that biological requirements are being met for the intended occupants.

Hole Size Matters!

Top priority! Diameter of the entrance hole should be between 1 and 1.25 inches. Too small and no one fits in. Too big and guests you don’t want, like House Sparrows and Starlings (or even squirrels and raccoons) will get in. See below for more info about protection from predators.

Get a hole reducer if the entry is larger than 1.25 inches in diameter. Ask us at the store.

Easy to Install and Maintain

Access to the inside of your nest box is important. Look for a hinged side or lifting roof to make clearing nests between broods much easier.

No Perches!

Perches are totally unnecessary for the nesting birds and may actually help predators gain access.

Sloped and Extended Roof

A sloped roof extending over the front and sides, is a nice feature and may help keep out driving rain and stop predators who get on top of the house from reaching inside. This is especially important for Bluebird nesting boxes.

Good Bird House Construction

Some of the elements to look for in good bird house construction include the following:

  • Untreated wood and unpainted interior , with rough surface to help nestlings climb.
  • No rusty or exposed hardware like screws or nails protruding.
  • Thick walls, at least 3/4″ and watertight seams.
  • Ventilation with a 5/8″ hole on each side wall near the top.
  • Drainage holes in the bottom to drain any moisture away from the inside.
  • Durable enough to last several seasons.

Have More Than One Bird House?

It’s ok to have more than one bird house in your yard! In fact, it’s better. It’s better to encourage different species who can coexist in the same general area. Since nesting birds will become territorial, same species will bird houses placed in different parts of your yard and out of the line of sight of each other.

If You Have Questions, Come See Us.

We’ll be glad to recommend the right bird house for you, based on the species of wild birds you are hoping to attract. See just a few of our Wild Bird houses here. The Backyard Naturalist has other styles and types—all our wild bird houses are ornithologically correct.

Read More About Bird Houses

Part III: Protecting Bird Houses from House Sparrows ‘Deadly Foreign Invaders’
Part II:How to Place and Maintain Bird Houses
Overview: All About Wild Bird Houses