Providing the perfect birdhouse is a great way to attract colorful songbirds without the need for daily maintenance, such as you might experience with a bird feeder.
And attracting beautiful birds is why you’re reading this, right?
Great! So here are three birds that nest in birdhouses and what they are looking for when they are selecting their home.
3 Beautiful Birds to Attract with Birdhouses
In this column, you’re going to discover how to attract the beautiful songbirds you most want to see.
And before this column is complete, I’m going to show you how to effectively attract your favorite songbirds using nothing more than carefully selected and placed birdhouses.
Bluebirds. Eastern, Mountain, and Western Bluebirds are all attracted to nest boxes or birdhouses.
The size of the nest opening depends on which bluebirds you have in your area. A 1–1/2 inch diameter hole is appropriate for Eastern and Western Bluebirds. Mountain Bluebirds require a slightly larger opening: 1–9/16 inch in diameter. The entrance hole should be 6 to 10 inches above the floor of the birdhouse. The floor space, where your birds will build their nest, should be approximately 5 x 5 inches.
Bluebird houses should be placed 6 feet off the ground and spaced about 200 feet from one another. The opening of the bluebird box should be facing a grassy field or open back yard. It is interesting to note that bluebirds prefer entry holes that face East, so you should accommodate their favorite direction whenever possible.
Swallows. Tree, Barn, and Violet-Green Swallows can all be attracted to your yard by providing suitable housing.
Tree Swallows will build in both bluebird and purple martin houses, but prefer the single family setting a bluebird house provides. They require a 1–1/2 inch diameter entrance hole. Tree Swallow houses should be placed 10 to 15 feet off the ground near a source of fresh water. They prefer to nest above an open area where they are free to capture tasty insects while still in flight. Birdhouses for Tree Swallows should be placed at least 100 feet apart with the entry hole directed away from the prevailing winds.
Barn Swallows do not actually build in a birdhouse, but rather build their nests on rough, uncut timbers. Swallow nests encourage Barn Swallows to nest in specific locations. Swallow nests should be hung 8 to 12 feet off the ground, 5 to 6 inches below the eaves of your house, barn, or shed.
Violet-Green Swallows like to set up housekeeping in a nest box, especially those designed for bluebirds. They prefer their boxes to be placed under the eaves of a house, but will also build in a house attached to a pole or tree. Nest Boxes for Violet-Green Swallows should be hung 9–15 feet off the ground and spaced at least 30 feet apart. Violet-Green Swallows prefer to nest in small colonies, so multiple birdhouses will give you the best results.
Tip: Both Tree Swallows and Violet-Green Swallows benefit from a fledgling ladder to help the young birds reach the entry hole. You can make one out of a piece of hardware cloth stapled to the inside of the box.
Chickadees. The Carolina Chickadee, Boreal Chickadee, and the Black-Capped Chickadee will all nest in birdhouses.
Chickadees prefer a 1–1/8 inch diameter entry hole, but have been known to select birdhouses with openings as narrow as 1 inch. They prefer nest boxes that are at least 8 inches in overall depth, but are not overly particular and will nest in smaller spaces. Carolina Chickadees appear to have no preference regarding the direction that the hole faces, but for other chickadees, you should situate the hole away from the prevailing winds.
Place birdhouses for Carolina Chickadees between 4 and 15 feet off the ground, at least 650 feet away from other nest boxes for chickadees. Housing for Black-Capped and Boreal Chickadees should be at least 5 feet off the ground. Boreal Chickadees have a larger territory than other chickadees and their houses should be at least 730 feet from other chickadee nests.
Tip: Chickadees do not construct or line nests inside bird houses, so providing at least 1 inch of wood shavings in the bottom of the boxes will encourage nesting and help keep the eggs from becoming scrambled as the parents enter and leave the nest.
As I tell the subscribers to my newsletter, Secrets About Feathers, you can prevent predators, such as snakes, from entering your bird houses by selecting those that have built-in predator deterrents or by adding one to the nest opening.
My top suggestion here is to decide which species you most want to attract and then select the birdhouse style and location specifically for that species.
Bonus Tip: House Sparrows will build in virtually any birdhouse, so any birdhouse you install is likely to result in baby birds. Get started today by selecting your favorite birdhouse at CockatooCreations.com/birdhouses.