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How to Attract Birds to a Bird house

Updated on February 4, 2013

So you saw this gorgeous bird house for sale, bought it, and are now wondering how to attract birds to it.

If the bird house is nice and clean and shiny new, and positioned in an area high off the ground to deter predators, with the entrance hole protected from the prevailing winds, all you need to do is wait.

Birds start colonizing gardens in the early spring, when they are on the lookout for suitable nesting places.

While you are waiting, make sure you have some bird food placed in a position nearby. Install a fountain with a basin, or a birdbath somewhere near.

Having food and drink on hand will encourage birds.

They will also require nesting material.

It is really quite simple to learn how to attract birds to a bird house. Read on to see how.

bird house
bird house | Source

Bird nesting material

While birds are expert in the wild at finding their own nesting material, why not give them a helping hand?

Collect a pile of:

  • Straw
  • human or animal hair
  • bits of string or old wool
  • dead leaves
  • old twigs or sticks
  • feathers
  • cotton wool balls
  • moss
  • pine needles
  • shredded paper

Place them all in bags of netting, perhaps the type you buy your onions in at the supermarket, with holes big enough for birds to collect the material they want for the their nests and hang them up from the nearest tree, or on different trees and tall bushes you may have dotted around your yard.

You will now assuredly attract birds not only into your garden, but into the new bird house you have erected for them.

What kind of gardens do birds like?

Birds do not especially like gardens that are neat and tidy, with lots of grass and low flowering borders.

Nor are local birds all that fussed about backyards filled with imported, exotic blooms, with berries they likely won’t eat because they are alien to them.

Treat your wild birds to lots of local vegetation, with a mixture of tall trees and bushes, and don’t be overly keen to clean up piles of old leaves and other rotting plant matter where insects thrive.

Birds prefer to eat their natural foods which are insects, berries, grains and fruit.

It is nice to fill a bird feeding table with scraps off our dinner plates, but please just try to do this in winter when natural bird food is scarce.

Size of Bird house entrance holes and height from ground

Type of bird
Diameter of Hole (inches)
Height above ground (in feet)
6 - 15
1 - 1¼
6 - 10
6 - 15
Bewick's Wren
6 - 10
Downy Woodpecker
6 - 20
5 - 10
Carolina Wren
6 - 10
10 - 15
Hairy Woodpecker
12 - 20
Crested Flycatcher
8 - 20
Red-Headed Woodpecker
12 - 20
House Finch
8 - 20
Northern Flicker
6 - 20
Purple Martin
12 - 20
Barn Swallow
open sides
8 - 12
open sides
8 - 12
open sides
8 - 16

Care of your bird house

Once a year, when the last of the birds have moved out, take the bird house down and clean it thoroughly with a mixture of one part bleach to 10 parts water. Hang it up to dry before replacing either in the same place, or in a new position.

The size of the entrance hole determines the type of bird that will use the birdhouse. If the hole in yours is being nested in by bigger birds than you would like to have in your garden, you can make the hole smaller by adding on a ring of plywood.

If the hole is too small, you can make it bigger, either with a file or by carefully cutting off a little more of the wood around the entrance, taking care not to split the grain.

There are even optimal heights for different types of birds.

Bird houses are great for adults and children alike to observe the behaviour of birds year round.

If our feathered friends like the bird house you provide, you will also observe the joy of watching baby birds grow up and leave the nest.

Having nesting birds in your garden is a big help to the gardener, as birds naturally feed on many garden pests, negating the need for insecticides.

I hope you have found something useful in this article to help you attract birds to a bird house, and that you will be rewarded with the joyous sounds of birds twittering away happily.

Have you managed to attract birds to a bird house?

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    • Isabel Melville profile image

      Isabel Melville 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      Great idea Songbird!

    • TheSavvySongbird profile image

      TheSavvySongbird 5 years ago

      For the squirrel problems, you might want to try putting a squirrel feeder somewhere in your yard away from the bird house. This might keep them busy and deter them from the birds.

    • Isabel Melville profile image

      Isabel Melville 6 years ago from Planet Earth

      Squirrels can be a huge problem for those wanting to attract birds to birdhouses. I think it is really important not to put food in or on the birdhouse. A lot of people advise putting food there to attract the birds, but it does also attract other animals like rodents, so keep the food separate. I don't think the position will make much difference as a squirrel can get in no matter where the bird house is.

    • TFScientist profile image

      Rhys Baker 6 years ago from Peterborough, UK

      Does it matter where abouts in your garden you position the bird house. We have had one up for a few months and get more squirrels than birds!

    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 6 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      What wonderful detail! This is an incredibly useful hub for bird lovers.

    • Isabel Melville profile image

      Isabel Melville 6 years ago from Planet Earth

      @esme, I am jealous! I would love to have a few!

      @Krystal, good luck with that bird house :)

    • KrystalD profile image

      KrystalD 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      You really showed how someone can be as creative as they like with bird houses as long as they understand the basic construction. I hope to make my first bird house this year!

    • Esmeowl12 profile image

      Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      Valid points. I have quite a few bird houses in my yard and got another one for Christmas! Yeah! I think you can never have too many.