Building a birdhouse can be a great way to spend your woodworking day! It can be both fun and rewarding. They make for the perfect first project, one to do with children, to beautify your garden and to attract birds to your home. In addition to the great feeling of a job completed and/or the quality time with the young ones it also offers long-time entertainment once a bird has adopted your birdhouse. Obviously, it is also good for the birds.
When building a birdhouse you should consider certain design specifications. To attract particular species it is important to build your birdhouse with their specific housing requirements. The design considerations are the floor size, the depth, how high the entrance hole is above the floor, the diameter of the hole and how high the birdhouse is above the ground. Each of these are specific to a bird type or a group of bird types.
The reason that these are important is that they attempt to match the natural habitat of the bird that you are hoping to attract. The hole size and the height of the entrance hole above the floor are extremely important as these ensure the safety of nesting birds so that unwanted species can enter and/or reach the housed bird’s eggs.
Birds can be choosy when searching for the right home so it may be better to give them several options. This way they can pick the home that makes them feel the most comfortable.
The Red-Tailed Hawk, Osprey and the Great Horned Owl prefer a platform and Robins, Barn Swallows and Phoebes prefer a nesting shelf.
The birdhouse size specification chart shown here is only a general guideline. Individual birds may use houses slightly larger or smaller than the size listed below.
(Click name to view)
|Bluebird – Eastern||5″ x 5″||8-12″||6-10″||1 1/2″||4-6′|
|Bluebird – Mountain||6″ x 6″||8-12″||6-10″||1 1/2″||4-6′|
|Brown Creeper||4 x 4″||8″||6″||1 3/8″||4-10′|
|Bluebird – Western||5.5 x 5.5″||8-12″||6-10″||1 1/2″||4-6′|
|Chickadee – Black-capped||4″ x 4″||8-10″||6-8″||1 1/8″||4-15′|
|Chickadee – Chestnut-backed||4″ x 4″||8-10″||6-8″||1 1/8″||4-15′|
|Chickadee – Mountain||4″ x 4″||8-10″||6-8″||1 1/8″||4-15′|
|Chickadee – Siberian||4″ x 4″||8-10″||6-8″||1 1/8″||4-15′|
|Duck – Barrow’s Goldeneye||8″ x 8″||12-15″||9-12″||3″||10-30′|
|Duck – Wood||10″ x 18″||10-24″||12-16″||4″||10-20′|
|Duck – Bufflehead||10″ x 18″||18-20″||16-18″||4″||10-20′|
|Finch – House||6″ x 6″||6″||4″||2″||8-12′|
|Flicker – Common||7″ x 7″||16-18″||14-16″||2 1/2″||6-20′|
|Flicker – Northern||7″ x 7″||16-18″||14-16″||2 1/2″||6-20′|
|Flycatcher – Crested||6″ x 6″||8-12″||6-10″||1 1/2″||5-15′|
|Grackle||7″ x 7″||16″||14″||2 1/2″||12+’|
|Hawk – Red-Tailed||24″ x 24″ Platform||14+’|
|Kestrel – American||8″ x 8″||12-15″||9-12″||3″||10-30′|
|Nuthatch – Brown-headed||4″ x 4″||8-10″||6-8″||1 1/8″||5-15′|
|Nuthatch – Red-Breasted||4″ x 4″||8-10″||6-8″||1 1/4″||5-15′|
|Nuthatch – Pygmy||4″ x 4″||8-10″||6-8″||1 1/8″||5-15′|
|Nuthatch – White-Breasted||4″ x 4″||9-11″||7-9″||1 1/4″||5-15′|
|Osprey||48″ x 48″ Platform||14+’|
|Owl – Barn||10″ x 18″||15-18″||4″||6″||12-18′|
|Owl – Great Horned||24″ x 24″ Platform||14+’|
|Owl – Pygmy||7″ x 7″||16″||14″||2 1/2″||12+’|
|Owl – Saw-whet||7″ x 7″||16″||14″||2 1/2″||12+’|
|Owl – Screech||8″ x 8″||12-15″||9-12″||3″||10-30′|
|Phoebes||6″ x 6″||6″||1+ Side Open||8-12′|
|Purple Martins||7″ x 11″||6″||1-2″||2″||10-15′|
|Robin – American||7″ x 8″||8″||1+ Side Open||6-15′|
|Snow Bunting||5″ x 5″||8″||6″||1 3/4||6-15′|
|Sparrow – House||5.5″ x 5.5″||9-12″||6-7″||1 1/2″||—|
|Swallow – Barn||6″ x 6″||6″||1+ Side Open||8-12′|
|Swallow – Violet-Green||5″ x 5″||6-8″||4-6″||1 1/2″||5-15′|
|Swallow – Tree||5″ x 5″||6-8″||4-6″||1 1/2″||5-15′|
|Woodpecker – Downy||4″ x 4″||8-10″||6-8″||1 1/4″||5-15′|
|Woodpecker – Hairy||6″ x 6″||12-15″||9-12″||1 1/2″||8-20′|
|Woodpecker – Lewis||7″ x 7″||16″||14″||2 1/2″||12+’|
|Woodpecker – Pileated||8″ x 8″||16-24″||12-20″||3×4″||15-25′|
|Woodpecker – Red-Bellied||6″ x 6″||12-15″||9-12″||2 1/2″||10-20′|
|Woodpecker – Red-Headed||6″ x 6″||12-15″||9-12″||2″||10-20′|
|Woodpecker – Sapsucker||5″ x 5″||12-15″||9-12″||1 1/2″||10-20′|
|Titmice||4″ x 4″||10-12″||6-10″||1 1/4″||5-15′|
|Warbler – Prothonotary||5″ x 5″||6″||4-5″||1 1/8″||4-8′|
|Wren – Bewicks||4″ x 4″||6-8″||4-6″||1 1/4″||5-10′|
|Wren – Carolina||4″ x 4″||6-8″||4-6″||1 1/4″||5-10′|
|Wren – House||4″ x 4″||6-8″||4-6″||1 1/4″||5-10′|
|Wren – Winter||4″ x 4″||6-8″||4-6″||1 1/4″||5-10′|
Some birdhouse building tips include:
- Many birds prefer the opening to be away from the prevailing winds.
- Never use paint or stain inside the birdhouse.
- Birds are territorial so you should not place different houses near each other.
- Do not put perches or platforms on your birdhouses. Birds don’t need them and they give predators the advantage of a place from which to ply their destruction.
- The wood you use to build your birdhouse should be at least 3/4″ thick. Anything less may allow heat to build up which would be detrimental to young birds. Use a naturally decay-resistant wood like cedar, redwood or a good grade of exterior plywood is best for building bird houses.
- To keep the nest and its contents dry you should provide proper drainage by having an ample overhang on the roof and small drain holes bored in each corner of the floor.
- Ventilation can be provided by drilling vent holes at the top of each side or with a gap between the roof and sides.
- Don’t put bird houses near bird feeders.
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