How to Pick the Perfect Home for Your Bird Friends

It’s a logistical nightmare to build a house from scratch. It’s much nicer to move into an already-existing home.

It’s the same with many birds. Of course, left to their own devices, birds will build nests, sometimes in tree branches, sometimes in the cavities of trees, sometimes on rock faces, sometimes on the ground. But with all the urban development going on, natural nesting places for birds are quickly diminishing. You can help by putting up bird houses that create safe places for birds to nest and fledge their young.

The question is, what bird house should you pick? It depends completely on which bird you want to help shelter. All birds aren’t created equal, neither in size, nor in feeding and nesting habits, nor in how many eggs they lay or chicks they hatch. Here are the kinds of birdhouses perfect for the birds they attract:

Wrens – House wrens are very small birds that prefer a house that hangs from a small tree in the middle of a yard or along the border of an open yard, says the National Wildlife Federation. Their cousins, Carolina wrens, favor birdhouses that are well hidden in natural habitat. For both creatures, a smaller, earth-toned house, positioned five-to-ten feet above the ground with an entry hole centered 6 inches or so above the floor is ideal. The Missouri Department of Conservation offers good suggestions for building a birdhouse here.

Chickadees and Titmice – My birdhouse does double-duty—it attracts wrens in early spring and chickadees later in the summer. Like wrens, chickadees like a smallish house with the entry hole about 6 inches above the floor, hanging 4-8 feet high and in a thicket of small trees (though my birdhouse is not in a “thicket,” per se, it is near other trees). tells you exactly how to build a chickadee house here.

Woodpeckers – These birds with their bright red heads and colorful plumage mostly nest in tree cavities, but some varieties, including northern flickers, red-headed woodpeckers and downy woodpeckers, might use a birdhouse if it’s more available. The size requirements will vary depending on the bird, but what the houses have in common is that they’re generally taller rather than square and the birds like wood shavings on the floor they can use as nesting material. All Free offers plans for building a woodpecker house here.

Screech Owls – These little owls are nocturnal, so if you build the house or nesting box, keep a watch on it around dusk, when it will sit in the entrance hole. Mount it on the trunk of a tree or on the side of a garage or other area where it is pretty well protected. These YouTube directions show you exactly how to build your own.

Purple Martins – It’s great fun to put up an “apartment complex” for purple martins, then enjoy their aeronautical antics as they swoop around the sky. You can try building one of these yourself, but they’re also commonly available at garden centers. Or, you can hang hallowed-out gourds for them to nest in. Keep in mind that these birds like very high open lodging, preferably near water, as well as expanses of lawn or meadow so they can hunt insects. You’ll also see them perching on utility poles and wires if these are near their boxes.

You can find plans for more varieties of bird species here. Many garden shops and nature centers will sell pre-made birdhouses, as well.

Once you do install a bird house, make sure there is plenty of water nearby. Install a baffle on the bottom to keep out raccoons, snakes, foxes and cats, and make sure the box is ventilated with small holes to provide air circulation and drainage. The wood inside the house should be untreated so the birds don’t ingest any toxic chemicals. Though homeowners like to paint houses with bright colors, most birds prefer neutral tones that blend in with Nature, not contrast with it.


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Leanne K
Leanne Kabout a year ago

I just love that thought of wild birds or animals sharing the same little patch of earth with me. I really must develop some rudimentary carpentry skills. Thankyou Care2

George L
George L2 years ago


George L
George L2 years ago


Jennifer F
Jennifer F2 years ago

Love these ideas! Time to tell hubby to get the wood and tools out so we can get to work! Birds & Blooms magazine also has some great ideas to share.

Philippa Powers
Philippa Powers2 years ago

I live in a condo and I'm not allowed to put out a bird house or a bird feeder. **pout**

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago


Rebecca Gouge
Rebecca Gouge2 years ago

Interesting. Thanks!

Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ

Interesting and useful post, thanks for sharing

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

.2 years ago

Your blogs are easily accessible and quite enlightening so keep doing the amazing work,