The Basics of Birdhouses

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

A large variety of North American birds will nest in birdhouses. Bluebirds, chickadees, purple martins, sparrows, swallows, and wrens are the most common bird types that act as cavity-dwellers. You may also be able to attract nuthatches, titmice, and woodpeckers. If you create the right environment for your feathered friends, you may be lucky enough to have a family of birds take up residence in your yard. Here are 5 factors to consider when choosing the right birdhouse for you and your winged guests.

Birdhouse Dimensions 

The birdhouse you select must have the proper dimensions for the type of bird you are looking to attract. It must also have an entrance hole that is the proper size and a location that matches the type of environment that the bird you are looking to attract prefers.

For example, bluebirds prefer wooden homes and are said to prefer a house mounted 5 to 8 feet above the ground. The preferred entrance hole for bluebirds is a half inch in diameter. Your bluebird house should also be located in an area facing or surrounded by open fields to allow for easy feeding to support themselves and their young.

Ventilation and Drainage

Ensure that the birdhouse is well ventilated and has proper drainage. If your birdhouse does not have ventilation the best place to drill small holes is just below the roof through each side of the birdhouse. The holes should be 1/8 to 1/4-inch in diameter. This will increase air circulation so your guests stay cool and healthy.

You may also choose to install a roof overhang in order to further protect the house from the elements.

Easy Access for Maintenance

The birdhouse you select should have easy access such as a hinged roof. Some birdhouses have hinged sides that allow for access to the interior. After a nesting period has ended, be sure to clean out any debris from inside the house to make it ready for future guests.


Many birds prefer a natural wooden birdhouse free of paint and man-made embellishments. In short, they are looking for materials that are found in their environment.

Woodpeckers, for example, prefer to carve out their own nesting site but birders have shared that adding wood chips to a nesting box helps to entice a woodpecker pair into choosing your location. Woodpeckers will follow their instincts and “excavate” the wood chips to prepare their home for nesting.


Although many decorative birdhouses are adorned with a perch or perches, in reality it is not necessary. Perches may provide ease of access for predators or other unwanted guests.

Keeping these five points in mind will help you create the prefect environment to attract a bird pair into choosing your birdhouse or nesting box to start their next family.

Enjoy and Happy Birding!