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Cardinal Bird Houses & NestboxesBluebird

Basic Bird House Plan

Each bird species has their own requirements for dimensions so whether you want to buy or build a birdhouse consider the needs of the bird the house is for.  

Below is a bird house plan or if you prefer here are some books with many designs.

Where to put a bird house, types of birds it may attract, and other information are below the nest box plan.

Design and construction of your bird house or nest box is important.  Just as important is where you put the bird house.

bird housebird house plan

The tools needed for the above nestbox are a handsaw or power saw, hammer, screwdriver, electric drill with 1/4 inch bit, and wood boring bit for making the entrance hole.

Wood that is 5/8 to 3/4 inch thick will insulate the young birds, and eggs from excessive heat and cold.  Try to avoid pressure treated lumber since it can be harmful to birds.  The roof of the bird house should slop so rain drains off.  Let it over lap the sides and front by around 1 Ĺ inches.  It helps to score a 1/8th inch groove in the underside of the roof about an inch from the front.  This is a drip line.  Attach two small shelves inside the front.  This helps the young birds learning to fly.  Drill several ľ inch ventilation holes in the sides above the level of the opening.   Have one side, or the top hinged for cleaning, and removal of old nests.  The bird house should be cleaned at least once a year.  You can use metal hinges for this or a piece of rubber or leather works for the top.  If you use the side for this attach a latch to keep it closed.

Finally drill some ľ inch holes in the bottom for drainage. Do not add a perch as this can attract predators and the adult birds may leave.

Galvanized nails or screws will last longer than ordinary nails.  Gluing all the joints before you nail them will extend the life of your bird house.  Seal the sides with sealant as you build, to make the box both windproof and waterproof.

Painting the box is not necessary.  Some colors may even discourage birds from nesting.  If you do paint the box keep in mind that lead based paints and creosote can be harmful to birds.  Dull, light colors reflect heat, and are less conspicuous to predators.  You should seal the sides with sealant as you build, to make the box both windproof and waterproof.  You can use a coat of linseed oil to keep the wood from drying out.  Again be careful because some wood preservatives can be harmful to birds.  If you do use a preservative do not treat the inside.

Before assembling the pieces drill a hole at the top of the back board so you can attach it to a pole or tree.

The dimensions for this house are for Bluebirds.  There are over two dozen birds in North America that will nest in bird houses.
Click here for a list of bird house dimensions for other birds.

While most birdhouses are made of wood, you can buy aluminum houses for Martins.  Many people make birdhouses out of gourds for wrens and martins.

Check out the selection of bird houses in The Nature Store.

Where to put your bird house

Try to place the bird house where it is shaded from the hot sun.  A little morning sun will not hurt. Most birds like a clear flight path into the nest box.  To attract birds you might try placing a small piece of dried moss inside.  If possible have the hole facing away from the prevailing wind so rain does not blow in.

Different habitats attract different birds.  Observe the bird you want to attract in its natural habitat and try to recreate it.  There are many things you can do in your yard.  One thing you can do is provide bird feeders and water.  Do not put the food to close to the bird house or they may not use it for fear of predators.  You may even want to plant trees or shrubs, birds can perch on to survey the feeder for predators from a safe distance.

If You Build it They Will Come

The light level changes caused by early late winter and early spring affect the hormones of birds and they start their breeding behavior.  The males will start singing, and trying to attract mates.  You may see them checking your bird house out.  They will land and peer into the opening.  Any other cavities such as a hole in a tree or opening in a close line post will also be investigated.  Once they decide on a house they will start to bring nesting material.  Usually this means they will nest here but the birds could still choose a different location.

Predators and Unwanted Competitors

This is a good place to mention competitors that many people consider a nuisance.  Starlings and sparrows were both imported to the U.S.  They are both very aggressive cavity nesters, and often take over houses that other birds might nest in.  Neither of them is protected by law, like most other birds.  Sometimes repeatedly removing their nesting material will persuade them to go elsewhere.  Some people resort buying traps to get rid of them.

Not all birds will use a bird house or nest box.  Those that do will want protection from predators, and easy access to food, and water. Bird houses mounted on metal poles are less vulnerable to predators than houses nailed to tree trunks or hung from tree limbs.  Birds have many predators.

Raccoons and Snakes

 are very common predators that are a danger to the birds, their young, and eggs.  Claw marks on your birdhouse or nesting material pulled from the entrance are signs that you may have a raccoon around.

Dogs may get young birds during nesting season.

Cats are always a danger.  If you have a cat try using a bell collar.  The period when young birds are learning to fly is one of the most dangerous for them and they may be unable to escape the clutches of a cat.  When the house is occupied a cat may reach in a get young birds or even catch parents trying to protect their young.  Some people have had success by wrapping a piece of tin around a tree or post creating a cat guard so the cat canít climb up.

Squirrels can damage the bird house.  If they get in they can eat the eggs.  A predator guard of sheet metal added to the entrance hole will usually take care of this.

Birdhouses mounted on metal poles are less vulnerable to predators than houses nailed to tree trunks or hung from tree limbs.  Many people smear the poles with a petroleum jelly, and hot pepper mixture.  A 2-foot section of 4 inch PVC pipe around the pole will help with raccoons and squirrels.  This will also help if you have a squirrel problem on a bird feeder.  If you have snakes, in addition to the PVC pipe spread a few shovels of sharp gravel around the base.  Another advantage to mounting your birdhouse on a steel pole is you can easily move anywhere you want.

Other wild animals such as snakes, and raccoons are a danger the birds, their young and eggs.

Houses mounted on metal poles are the most difficult for predators to reach.  Many people smear the poles with a petroleum jelly and hot pepper mixture.  A 2 foot section of 4 inch PVC pipe around the pole will help with raccoons and squirrels.  This will also help if you have a squirrel problem on a bird feeder.  If you have snakes, in addition to the PVC pipe spread a few shovels of sharp gravel around the base.

Many insects lay their eggs and pupate in bird houses.  You should inspect your bird houses for signs of gypsy moths, blow flies, ants, gnats, bees, and wasps.
Coating the inside of the roof with bar soap will help keep bees and wasps from attaching their nests.  Birdhouses should be cleaned out each spring and after nesting prevent a build up of parasites and mites.  Plugging the holes in winter is also a good idea as it will discourage mice or starlings from living in the house.

Number of Bird Houses
Itís a good idea to have several houses because there is always a shortage of available cavities, and a number of birds will compete for the same house.  Do not place the nest boxes to close together as it creates unwanted completion.  To many in one location can also be a problem.

Birds that will not use a nest box.

Many birds such as cardinals or orioles will not use bird houses.  You can still attract them to bird feeders and water.  If you do they may stay and nest in nearby trees.  For types of food visit our Food - Feeding page.

Another good choice for a free bird house is natural gourds.  Many people grow their own gourds, and they are very attractive nest boxes.

Here is a bird house selection.

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