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How To Attract Birds To a Bird House (7 Proven Methods)

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Flame-colored Tanager in Costa Rica

Adding a bird house to your yard is one way to attract cavity-nesting birds to the area, but you have to know what types of houses to select and place them in the right location in order for birds to be attracted. Plus, you also have to remember that not all birds will be attracted to a bird house.

Below, we’ll go over seven proven methods for attracting cavity-nesting birds to your bird house. Most of these methods involve selecting the right bird house in order to cater to the birds you are most interested in.

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What Birds Use Bird Houses?

Before we move on, it’s critical to understand that not all birds use bird houses. The only birds that like bird houses are cavity-nesting birds. Chickadees, tits, finches, sparrows, flycatchers, warblers, swallows, nuthatches, creepers, swifts, thrushes, rings, woodpeckers, and some ducks and birds of prey are cavity-nesters. Any bird that is not cavity-nesting will see no use in the house.

In addition to knowing what types of birds prefer bird houses, you also have to know what birds are in your area. You will want to have bird houses designed specifically for your bird. If the bird house is too big or too small for the bird in your area, it will not be used.

So, always do research about what sort of bird is in your yard before investing in a bird house. This will help to ensure that the bird house you select is right for the species in your area.

birds house
Image Credit: Piqsels

How To Attract Birds To a New Bird House

1. Get The Right Bird house

The number one way to attract birds to a bird house is to get the right bird house, based on the species in question. You will want to select a bird house that is the right size for the species. This includes the overall size and the entrance hole size.

The overall size can be one of the most difficult things to get right. The bird house needs to be big enough that the bird can move around, but it shouldn’t be too large. Bird houses that are too large don’t feel safe for the bird whenever they are inside. Thoroughly research the ideal dimensions based on the bird species you want to attract.

You will also want to think about the materials and colors used on the bird house. Select bird houses made from bird-safe materials and avoid bird houses with extensive paint and provocative colors. Not only is the paint potentially dangerous, but birds prefer a more inconspicuous house.

2. Select The Right Location

Once you know what sort of bird house you want, it’s important that you put it in the right location. Location is everything for a bird. If you put it in a noisy area, birds will not come. In contrast, birds love the bird houses placed in a quiet and inconspicuous area where it is protected by natural foliage.

birdhouse holes_Franz W._Pixabay
Image Credit: Franz W., Pixabay

3. Add Food Around The House

Make sure to add a food supply around the house. Birds are more likely to nest in a house if they have access to food. You can think about hanging a bird feeder right around the house so that the birds have easy access to food to and from their home.

4. Supply Water

In addition to food, birds need water. Add a birdbath or a bird water feeder around the area. Having a fresh supply of water will further encourage birds to nest in your bird house since they have access to all of the most vital resources for survival.

bird bath
Image Credit: Gaz_D, Pixabay

5. Stay Away From The House

Whenever you first install the bird house, make sure to stay away from it. Birds will at first watch the area before deciding to move in. If you are frequently walking around the bird house, they will likely be scared and not nest in it accordingly.

So, stay away from the bird house to convince the birds that it is a safe location. Even after birds move in, do your best to stay away from the bird house so that you don’t accidentally scare or stress them out with your presence.

6. Install Protector Guards

Many predators love bird houses because it provides easy access to the birds. To ensure the birds are as protected as possible, install protector guards around the bird house. You specifically want to protect the birds from raccoons, snakes, mice, and other predators.


7. Clean The Bird House

You always want to keep the bird house habitable for your birds. At the same time, you don’t want to clean the bird house so frequently that the birds are afraid to nest there.

It’s best to shoot for cleaning your bird house at least once a year before the nesting season. This will help to remove any spiders and creatures that are calling the bird house home. At the same time, cleaning the bird house before nesting season won’t disrupt any birds.

eagle divider Do You Put Bird Seed In a Bird House?

Although it may seem like a good idea to put bird seed inside a bird house, you should avoid doing so. Putting bird seed in a bird house will do more than just attract birds. It will also attract potential predators and make the bird house dirty.

Instead, it’s best to have a bird feeder outside the house. The seed will still attract the birds to the area of the house, but the birds have an easy escape route if a predator is attracted to the seed as well.

bluebird house_ Mike Dobe_Pixabay
Image Credit: Mike Dobe, Pixabay

Should You Put Anything In a Bird Box?

It’s best to not put anything inside a bird box. Most birds prefer to make their own nesting materials. Even if you strategically select nesting materials, most birds will actually take the material out and replace it with their own materials.

Another reason it’s a good idea to keep the bird box clean is that some materials are dangerous to put inside. Leaving the bird box completely empty ensures that no harmful materials are added accidentally.

Although putting bird-safe materials inside a bird box will not harm the bird, it is a waste of money. Just leave the bird box open so that birds can build their nest as they see fit.

eagle divider Conclusion

If you want to attract birds to your bird house, make sure to do thorough research based on the birds in your yard. You want to make the bird house specifically for individual species so that you create the best home for their needs.

From there, make sure to select the right bird house and location for the species. Add food and water around the area and install protector guards. Once a year, clean the bird house to make sure it is habitable. There’s no need to add anything to the inside of the bird box, though.

By doing these seven things, you are doing everything in your power to encourage birds to nest in the box. After you do these things, be patient and use your binoculars to see if any birds call the bird box home.

Featured Image Credit: punkbirdr, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.