Mount and Maintain a Nesting Box

Nesting box

Once you have a nesting box set up in your yard, there are some ways you can encourage more birds to visit.

What You Need

  • Nesting box
  • Nesting box pole
  • Predator baffle

What You Do

  1. Set up your nesting box in a place that avoids chemicals and predators.
    Most species that prefer nesting boxes tend to eat insects, so ideally their home is near a food source that does not contain harmful chemicals. Also, you want the birds to be safe in their new home, so it’s best to mount the box in a pole with a predator baffle. Make sure the box is attached securely to withstand severe weather and winds. Birds will prefer a box that does not face west because the box gets too hot. Each species has its own preferences of height, nearby habitat and direction.

    Nesting box

  2. Set up your nesting boxes before the bird breeding season.
    In the southern part of the country, boxes should be in place no later than February. In the northern regions, boxes can be placed outside before mid to late March. This will give birds a better chance of finding and using your box, and it may even be used for winter cover if put outside earlier. Don’t be discouraged if birds don’t find the box in the first season; sometimes it can take a few years for the birds to find the box.
  3. Monitor your box for activity once breeding season begins.
    You can enjoy watching adults quickly dart in and out as they build their nests or feed hungry nestlings. If your box is first discovered and used by invasive bird species consider removing the nest. Doing this regularly will likely encourage the bird to move to another location and free the box for use by native species. Once eggs have been laid you may want to monitor the progress of the nest. Lightly tap on the box before opening the panel to allow the adult bird to leave. So as not to become a nuisance, limit your viewing time to less than a minute once a week. Keep track of the progress of the nestlings. This way once they have fledged and the box is no longer in use it can be cleaned.
  4. Clean the empty nesting box.
    Some birds will not use cavities with abandoned nests in them, and removing the debris cuts down on parasites for the next set of nestlings. If you remove the nest in a timely fashion you could enjoy two to three broods per season.

    Cleaning nesting box