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> Birding Center > Wild Bird Information > Provide Shelter for Birds

Providing Shelter for Birds

The Problem:


There is a shortage of nesting sites for cavity-nesting birds due to vast land development, the introduction of European Starlings and House Sparrows along with the use of pesticides. This has resulted in a drastic reduction of cavity-nesting birds over the last 50 years. 

The use of birdhouses has helped many species of birds make a comeback, such as the Bluebird. The Eastern Bluebird population had declined by an estimated 90% between the early 1900's and 1970's but the use of nesting boxes has resulted in a remarkable increase in their populations. You can attract many birds to your yard by providing houses.  More than 50 species of birds will use a birdhouse including Chickadees, Bluebirds, Titmice, Woodpeckers, Wrens, Swallows and Nuthatches.


What can you do? 

  1. Never use pesticides on your lawn!  Attracting cavity-nesting birds to your yard will help to reduce the insect 
  2. Provide birdhouses or nest boxes.  In addition to providing nesting for birds, houses provide safety and a sheltered place to roost in inclement weather. 
  3. Feed the birds in order to help keep their populations healthy.  Click here for more information on feeding wild birds.


What to look for in a birdhouse:
  • be able to be opened for cleaning.

  • have ventilation holes at the top.

  • have a slanted roof to allow water to run off.

  • not have perches as cavity-nesting birds do not need them and they allow predators access to the nestlings.

Many believe there are only two types of birdhouses; functional or decorative.  However, there are many decorative birdhouses now being offered that are also functional.  In order to function properly a birdhouse should:

Habitat, placement and care:

  • Place the house on a pole to discourage predators, however Chickadees and Woodpeckers prefer the house to be mounted directly to a tree.
  • Storms normally come out of the east, place the house facing west, south or southwest.
  • Provide a clear flight pattern to the entrance hole with the entrance approximately 10 feet away from other trees or fences.
  • The house should receive plenty of sunshine throughout the day.
  • When the nesting season comes to an end, always clean out the old nesting material and ensure the house is free of debris. Then leave your house up so birds can use it to roost in the cooler months.
Each species of bird has different preferences for habitat and height of the birdhouse.  Use our Nesting Chart to help you determine the best site placement of the birdhouse to attract your favorite birds.  

Keep in mind that these are only general guidelines and you can still attract birds to your house even if you do not live near a wooded area.