If you enjoy watching birds in your own backyard, you can encourage them to nest and feed nearby by creating a permanent home. Although birds do not actually live inside of manmade bird structures, they will often take advantage of them as a place to build nests to raise their young. There are many types of native U.S. birds that will build nests in man-made structures made of wood or other sturdy materials that provide shelter from weather and predators. Some types of birds prefer a nesting cavity in a “snag” or dead tree containing holes, but when this type of home is not available, many times these birds will use a handmade wooden nest that you provide. Bird homes, also commonly known as birdhouses, can be built from a variety of different materials, from scrap lumber to hollow gourds. You can decorate your birdhouse to make it colorful and personal.
The best birdhouses are ones that suit the needs of the birds that will be using them. Some birds like enclosed houses that mimic the environment of a hollow tree, while other birds prefer a simple shelf. For detailed information on how to select the best materials, color, and placement for your birdhouse, consult a resource with specific advice about birds in your area. The links below provide a great starting place for your research on birdhouses.
Get an overview of birdhouse types and decide which kind of home is best for the birds in your backyard.
Make a Birdhouse: USGS Kids
This page by the U.S. Geological Survey gives easy instructions and diagrams to show how you can build a nesting box for bluebirds and similar birds.
Build Nest Boxes for Wild Birds
This guide by the Oregon State University Extension Service explains many important aspects of how to build and mount a nesting box for specific types of wild birds, including what tools and materials you might need.
From Gourd to Birdhouse
These simple instructions explain how to make a birdhouse from a gourd that you have grown or purchased, including how to select and dry the gourd ahead of time.
Keep Snakes Out of Bird Houses
Many types of snakes are likely to prey on birds that nest in hanging or mounted birdhouses. This short guide explains how to prevent snakes from accessing your birds.
How to Build Your Own Birdhouse
This page offers many useful tips to keep in mind when constructing a birdhouse yourself, as well as advice about the best location to place the birdhouse when it is complete.
Backyard Wildlife: Birdhouses and Shelves
This guide by the University of Nebraska discusses how to decide important elements of building a birdhouse, including what materials are best, whether to paint it when you’re finished, and when to avoid disturbing a bird family that is nesting in your birdhouse.
Attract Purple Martins with Gourd Birdhouses
The National Wildlife Federation explains why a birdhouse made from a gourd is best for the purple martin but not ideal for other bird species.
Clean Bird Houses and Bird Feeders Keep Birds Healthy
The University of Wisconsin gives advice about how to clean birdhouses and bird feeders for the health of your backyard birds.
Is Your Birdhouse Overtaken by Sparrows and Starlings?
Sometimes a birdhouse that you have made for native backyard bird species will be taken over by pesky invasive species like starlings or sparrows. Here is what you can do to prevent this from happening.