Nesting boxes, or birdhouses as they are often called, provide shelter for mated birds to raise their offspring. But, it’s not one size fits all: each bird species has different housing needs. Check out the plans provided here and build to suit your favorite backyard birds.
This shares a detailed look at what makes a nesting box safe and why decorative birdhouses can be dangerous for birds.
About Nesting Boxes
When done right, nesting boxes provide wild birds with a safer place to raise their young than they may find in the wild.
Use these tips and plans to house favorite birds in your garden. But remember, birds are territorial, so one box may be all the works in your space.
- Nesting Box Building Tips
- Free Nesting Box Plans
Nesting Box Building Tips
If you want to be certain you are helping and not harming wild birds, consider using proper nesting boxes instead of decorative or artsy (but not safe) birdhouses.
Birds in need of a place to lay their eggs are on a deadline. Your super cute, brightly-painted birdhouse might look like a good option for urgently-needed housing, but, later on when the eggs have hatched and the chicks are growing, it might cause a whole bunch of problems.
This is the book I use for building nesting boxes: Easy Birdhouses & Feeders: Simple Projects to Attract & Retain the Birds You Want by Bird Watcher’s Digest
There are also free plans and recommended resources below.
Free Nesting Box Plans
Unlike many other birds that use nesting boxes, the American robin will nest on a ledge. When placed high up on a house wall under an overhang, they can provide a good, secure location for raising their young.
Attracting Wild Birds to Your Garden
- Avoid the use of any products toxic to birds and their food sources including caterpillars.
- Grow plants, trees and shrubs for habitat and be messy: dead and decaying things nourish life.
- Keep pets out of your garden.
- Choose plants that provide food, nectar, or habitat for other living things.
- Birdhouses: Use as decoration only.
- Nesting Box Tips and Nesting Box Plans: Choose species-specific designs.
- Bird Feed: Provide nutritious food and fresh, clean water.
- Bird Feeders: Clean frequently. Remove feeders immediately if you notice any sign of disease or problems like salmonella, trichomoniasis, aspergillosis, or avian pox are reported in your area.
Remove feeders and stop hand-feeding birds if there are known outbreaks of pathogenic diseases spreading throughout wild bird populations.
TIP: Use a motion-sensitive wildlife camera in your garden to see what goes on when you’re not there.
How to Block Predators from Nesting Boxes
See the block of wood around the nesting box opening (below)? This helps keeps out predators including bigger birds and raccoons. After adding it, a few nights later I happened to see a raccoon trying to reach in the box to snatch eggs. That little block of wood made it impossible for him to bend his arm down inside and grab dinner. Phew!
More Nesting Box Plans
These are the two books I use for making nesting boxes. Both have plans for a variety of bird species in the United States and Canada. They each contain helpful information about each species and recommendations for where to place the nesting boxes so they are both safe and attractive for the birds.
- Easy Birdhouses & Feeders: Simple Projects to Attract & Retain the Birds You Want (Birdwatcher’s Digest)
- Audubon Birdhouse Book, Revised and Updated: Building, Placing, and Maintaining Great Homes for Great Birds
Backyard Bird Wildlife Camera
Here is some favorite footage from my backyard birdcam:
I hope you’ll try making a nesting box. It is a lot of fun to watch as birds select one as their home, fill it with nesting material, and raise their young. I have boxes for wrens and chickadees, and they are busy from spring to fall.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛