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How to Get Birds to Nest in Your Birdhouse

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Getting birds to nest in your birdhouse is a challenge many of us have.

Getting birds to nest in your birdhouse is a challenge many of us have.

How to Attract Birds to a Birdhouse

Nothing can bring you more joy than small birds in your garden and watching them as they frolic in a birdbath or take care of their young in birdhouses that you've hung for them to feel safe, warm and dry, especially on those cold days and nights.

I'll give you some ideas on how to attract birds to your birdhouse and give them a place to take up residency sooner rather than later.

5 Tips for Attracting Birds to Your Birdhouse

  1. Make sure the birdhouse is large but not too large.
  2. Ensure the birds have a safe place to eat.
  3. Keep water close by.
  4. Keep them away from predators.
  5. Keep people away at first.
These birdhouses are great for smaller birds.

These birdhouses are great for smaller birds.

1. Make Sure the Birdhouse Is Large but Not Too Large

You'll want to get a birdhouse that has an opening that's big enough for them to easily get in and out of the entrance but not so big that they don't feel safe. If a bird doesn't feel safe, it will definitely take up residence elsewhere. A primary goal for a bird in a shelter is to keep its young safe from predators and the weather. The size of the bird you want to attract will determine the size of house you'll need to purchase or build.

2. Ensure the Birds Have a Safe Place to Eat

The main thing that will keep birds in your area is to keep food near or on the birdhouse. Make sure this food cannot be reached by squirrels or other animals because the birds will feel threatened that possible predators can reach them. Not to mention that the squirrels will eat all the food, making it hard for a bird to stay. Below is a video that shows a product that spins when a squirrel tries to eat the bird food and they eventually learn to stay out of your feeder.

3. Keep Water Close by

Fresh water nearby allows the birds to not only have a place to bathe but it gives them a source of drinking water which is as important as food. A small, simple birdbath with only a couple of inches of water in it works perfect for this; just make sure you change out the water on a regular basis to keep it fresh. If you have a lake, pond, or stream near your property, then this factor has taken care of itself and your chances of having a bird actually nest in your birdhouse are dramatically increased.

Keeping water near the bird house is a must.

Keeping water near the bird house is a must.

4. Keep Them Away From Predators

If you live in an area where animals come through your yard or cats wander through now and then, you will want to use some type of deterrent to keep them away from the area where you want your birds to take up residency.

There are different types of products on the market that can help you keep these unwanted animals out of the area. If you live in an area where snakes are a problem then you can find products to help keep them out of the birdhouses. Snakes are probably the hardest predator to keep away, so keep this in mind when placing your birdhouse in its final position.

Cats are natural predators for birds

Cats are natural predators for birds

5. Keep People Away at First

Until you have some permanent residents, you will want to keep people away from the area as much as possible. After they have moved in, people shouldn't be an issue as long as they don't agitate the birds.

The challenge is trying to keep children from wanting to play with the birds as they are naturally curious and want check out what's inside the birdhouse. Birds first look for a secure environment to nest in then food and water are the next priorities.

If people are walking by the bird house all the time, the birds will never feel secure enough to nest in it.

If people are walking by the bird house all the time, the birds will never feel secure enough to nest in it.

Once You Have a Permanent Resident, Enjoy the Birdsong!

If, at first, after doing these things, you still can't get them to move in, you can try some variations of the rules such as different types of food or making a larger entryway into the house. Try moving the birdhouse to different locations on your property because what you think is secure, the bird may not.

You may want to watch for animals being able to access the food; remember, where we think it's impossible for a squirrel or other animal to reach the food you put out, they may be able to get to it some other way. Once you have a permanent resident in your birdhouse, you will be able to enjoy the playful songs of your favorite birds.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Do birds nest in hanging houses?

Answer: They will as long as there are no threats around and plenty of resources such as water and food. If it's hung in a high traffic area then they may not feel safe so make sure it's a safe area away from any predators and you'll greatly increase the chances for nesting birds.

Question: Does putting food at the birdhouse encourage birds to occupy it?

Answer: It's not going to hurt to have food at the birdhouse, however this is just a piece of the puzzle in getting a bird to nest in your birdhouse. Remember having the house away from predators and in an area with water and food near by are key to making them feel safe and secure to raise their babies.

Question: Do the same birds come every year?

Answer: In some cases yes, however different birds may take up residence in the same house each year.

Question: Is a hole 1 and 3/8 inch big enough for a small bird?

Answer: It may be for some smaller species and may make them feel more secure.

Question: Do birds like it if there is a small hole in a tree which they can fit through?

Answer: As long as it gives them a place to get out of the weather and there are no predators around that can get to them they will like it. Remember, they have to have water, food and security when it comes to nesting.


Rae on July 19, 2020:

There is already a bird that is already In my garden. It doesn’t turn out to be going away. Does that mean it’s nesting. It’s right inside my bird house

Ann Finger on March 17, 2019:

We added a lot of bird feeders around our house with either thistle or good quality bird seeds! Once they realized what they had they fight over the best place lol! We added a few hummingbird feeders but this year so far they are only eating from my flowers!! Now , the birdhouses! Different kinds! Big, small, wood, hatch etc,,, no luck yet, one perched on top but not in! Finally I added what I should have all along, WATER! getting a bird water fountain, I read some birds willl only be attracted to moving water! Can’t wait to see what happens! Thanks for all the info!

Baiden Bed Chan on November 22, 2018:

This article was very interesting, could you help me with something? If my house is about 20 metres tall, should I put my birdhouse next to my room balcony in order to get a better understanding of how they nest? Also, should I put a birdbath next to the birdhouse? Thanks for your cooperation.

bill on November 26, 2017:

i love bird

Charlie on December 29, 2016:

It works

Mary Wickison from USA on July 31, 2015:

We get so many birds visiting our garden here in Brazil. 100+ different species.

However, we tried putting up a hollowed out coconut log, which at one time had owls nesting it. The tree fell over and out rolled to young owls. They were reared and released.

The coconut log we tied up to a hefty concrete post. Parakeets (wild), 2 types of woodpecker and various others have all snubbed it. I think it is like you said, the hole is just the wrong size.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 21, 2013:

This was a nice hub. I have birdhouses up but only some of them get used sometimes. It's a special treat when they choose to stay a spell with us. Then before you know it, they're grown and gone.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on February 28, 2013:

Love the birds, just wonderful to have them nesting close by where you can watch them feeding their young. By the end of Summer they look positively exhausted with lots of untidy feathers. Whoever said it was easy being a parent! Enjoyed your hub.

Chad Young (author) from Corona, CA on August 27, 2012:

Me too Litzy!! ;-)

Litzy on August 27, 2012:

I Nate when birds bite you:(

Chad Young (author) from Corona, CA on April 28, 2012:

A very funny thing happened, I set up a birdhouse and 2 birds moved into it within a couple weeks. Then 2 more built a nest very near on some pipes that come out of our house under the eve. I guess they have neighbors now and I guess I'll have to hang more than one birdhouse next year.

Shelbert on April 14, 2012:

:) That was nice! I have 2 birdfeeders, a birdbath, and a birdhouse!Tweet tweet!

prism3x on November 27, 2011:

great article on birdhouses! Thanks for sharing.