Nest Boxes: How to Select the Perfect Box

by Jul 6, 2017News0 comments

Nest Boxes: How to Select the Perfect Box

By Krista Botting, Summer Field Biologist

The breeding season is well under way, and many breeding pairs are beginning a second brood while some later nesters are just beginning to build. One way to help many birds is to put up a nest box. There are several species that will readily nest in a box, like Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, and House Wrens, but follow these guidelines for success!

Location, Location, Location

A bird is looking for prime real estate, and the area around your house could be the perfect match for certain species. Some birds prefer a nearby water source, some like open fields, and others love the edges of wood lots. If your location isn’t right for a species a nest box won’t attract them, so make sure you find the right species first.

Cozy Cottage or Palatial Spread

Once you pick a species or two, you need to build or buy a box that is the right size. A bluebird won’t nest in a box that’s the size for a screech owl, and a flycatcher is too big to fit in a box the size for a wren. Be sure that you build the box with proper dimensions to attract the species you want, and make the entrance hole a good size and shape to match.

Extra Amenities

Like people, birds look for some specific features that enhance their safety and ease of use. Make sure the inside wall under the entrance hole rough or to put some kind of grip there to help fledglings leave the nest.

Install predator deterrents such as a baffle around the mounting pole to keep snakes, raccoons, and other raiders out.

Weather is another issue, so make sure the roof overhangs the walls, and that there is adequate ventilation and drainage to keep the nest is cool and dry.


It may seem like there’s a lot to consider when picking out or building your first nest box. But never fear, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birdhouses page has you covered!

And while you’re there, check out Project NestWatch to learn how your observations can help scientists.


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