The Backyard Naturalist's Guide to Choosing, Placing and Maintaining a bird house: Mama needs security and privacy!

How to Place & Maintain Bird Houses

Guidelines for Backyard Bird House Placement

Place Bird Houses Away From Activity

When you place bird houses, think like a Mama Bird! She wants her nest to be discreet and private, so keep bird houses separate from high traffic areas, such as bird feeders and bird baths. And being placed away from human activity doesn’t hurt either! Bluebirds, however, like to nest in quiet, open areas. See our resource page for information specific to Bluebirds.

Trees, poles and spaces under eaves can work well. Free-standing poles with baffles can offer protection from many predators, like snakes (excellent climbers!), raccoons and cats.

Avoid areas where pesticides or herbicides are used. Not only bad for wild birds health in general, but the chemicals have likely already eliminated the birds’ prime food source—insects.

Place Bird Houses Where Species Prefer to Nest

Check The Cornell Lab ‘Nest Watch’Requirements for Your Favorite Cavity-nesting Birds‘ with nesting information specific to individual bird species.

Attract a variety of birds to your yard! Differing species will coexist even when same species will not. If you place another bird house, like on the other side of your house and out of the line of sight of other boxes, you may also encourage birds of the same species to choose your property. This can stop bird house wars that may erupt.

Monitor Bird Houses During Nesting Season

If you have House Sparrows harassing other nesting birds, we can’t say it enough. Entry hole size matters and the correct size will reduce this problem. (See ‘How to Choose a Bird House‘ for specific info.) If House Sparrows persist, see House Sparrows: Deadly Foreign Invaders‘ for help.

Be sure your bird house is secure and will endure through strong winds and severe storms.

Guidelines for Backyard Bird House Maintenance

Start with a clean box! Remove any debris and wash with soap and warm water, if needed.

Clean out after each brood. Birds have 1-3 broods a season. Clean out boxes after each brood and they will use the same box again. No worries, once baby birds leave the nest, they don’t come back!

Once you place bird houses, be patient! It may take a season or two for the birds to adopt it, especially if you have installed them later in spring.

Read More About Bird Houses

Part III: Protecting Bird Houses from House Sparrows ‘Deadly Foreign Invaders’
Part I: How to Choose the Right Bird House for Your Backyard
Overview: All About Wild Bird Houses