Bats
Feb 28, 2020
Choosing the Right Seed
Feb 29, 2020

Placing Nesting Boxes

Bird Habitat Guide

Placing Nesting Boxes
So, you want to place a nest box? Good for you! Natural cavity nests are in short supply with invasive species such as European Starlings and House Sparrows ramping up the competition with native species. It’s not hard to place a nesting box (thought a ladder may be involved.) The four main factors you need to consider are:

Habitat

Is the surrounding area right for the bird you want to attract? (See chart below.)

Box Placement Type

Placing it where the birds want it, not the predators. (See chart below.)

Space Between Nesting Boxes

Birds don’t like crowded neighborhoods. (See chart below.)

Hole Diet

Place your nesting box with the hole facing to the southeast. This will keep it away from the prevailing westerly winds and give it optimal sunlight, especially in early spring when it usually feels a lot more like winter!

Direction of Hole

Too small and your intended bird can’t get in. Too big and unintended birds (and predators) CAN get in. (See chart below.)

At Least 10 Feet from Feeders

How would you feel if a Taco Bell opened in your backyard? Exactly. Birds feel the same way when raising their families. So, keep those crowded feeders 10-feet (or more) from your nesting boxes.

When to Get Your Boxes Out

Up here above the Mason-Dixon line, get your nesting boxes out no later than mid-March so that they’re ready for the breeding season.

Read All About It

Check out the handy-dandy chart below from the big brains at Cornell Lab of Ornithology for everything you need to know about making your new nesting box a well-loved home.
SpeciesNesting HabitatBox HeightHole SizeMinimum Spacing
American KestrelPastures, fields, meadows, or orchards with mowed or grazed vegetation; place boxes on lone trees in fields, on trees along edges of woodlots, and on farm buildings. Facing south or east.10-30 feet3″ diameter1/2 mile
Barn OwlPrefers open areas like fields, deserts and marshes which are in close proximity to hollow trees, cliffs, riverbanks, or man-made structures, including barns, bridges and other accessible sites, and which support healthy rodent populations.8-25 feet3 3/4″ x 4 1/2″ elliptical100 feet
Black-capped ChickadeeForests, woodlots, and yards with mature hardwood trees, forest edges, meadows; area should receive 40-60% sunlight, hole should face away from prevailing wind; 1″ wood shavings can be placed in box.5-15 feet1 1/8″ round650 feet
Brown-headed NuthatchOpen stands of pine-hardwood forests, clearings scattered with dead trees, forest edges, burned areas, cypress swamps.5-10 feet1″ round1 box per 6 acres
Carolina ChickadeeForests, woodlots, and yards with mature hardwood trees, forest edges, meadows; area should receive 40-60% sunlight, hole should face away from prevailing wind. Unlike other chickadees, Carolina Chickadee does not do much excavating, so wood chips are not necessary.4-15 feet1 1/8″ round30 feet
Carolina WrenForests with thick underbrush, forest edges, woodland clearings, open forests, shrub lands, suburban gardens, parks, backyards; near trees or tall shrubs.3-6 feet1 1/2″ round, or 2 1/2″ x 5″ slot330 feet
Chestnut-backed ChickadeeConiferous forests, mixed deciduous-coniferous forests, forest edges, woodlands, thickets, burned areas, often near streams; hole should face away from prevailing wind; 1″ wood shavings can be placed in box.5-15 feet1 1/8″ round160 feet
Common GoldeneyeBreeding habitat is limited to aquatic areas with dead trees, in boreal, deciduous, aspen and montane woods; favor calm, large, clear lakes without much vegetation or fish. Please several inches of wood shavings in the box in early spring.6-30 feet3 1/4″ high x 4 1/4″ wide2/3 mile
Eastern BluebirdOpen field or lawn; orchards; open, rural country with scattered trees and low or sparse ground cover; entrance hole should face open field, preferring east, north, south, and then west-facing directions.3-6 feet1 1/2″ diameter (round), or 2 1/4″ high x 1 3/8″ wide (oval)300 feet
Eastern Screech-OwlForests, parks, woodland clearings, forest edges, wooded stream edges, under a tree limb. Add 2″-3″ of wood shavings.10-30 feet3″ round100 feet
Great Crested FlycatcherDeciduous or mixed deciduous-coniferous forests, forest edges, woodlots, orchards, parks, on post or tree at forest edge.3-20 feet1 3/4″ round1 box per 6 acres
Hooded MerganserQuiet, shallow, clear water pools surrounded by or near the edge of deciduous woods: small forest pools, ponds, swamps; add 3″ of wood shavings; add ladder under inside of entrance hole for young to climb out.6-25 feet3″ high by 4″ wide horizontal oval100 feet
House SparrowAgricultural, suburban, and urban areas; tend to avoid woodlands, forests, grasslands, and deserts.Providing nest boxes is discouraged for this species in the U.S.can fit through holes with 1 1/4″ diametervariable
House WrenVariety of habitats, farmland, openings, open forests, forest edges, shrub lands, suburban gardens, parks, backyards; near trees or tall shrubs.5-10 feet1″ round100 feet
Mountain BluebirdOpen field or lawn; orchards; open, rural country with scattered trees and low or sparse ground cover; will also use deciduous and coniferous forest edges; entrance hole should face open field, preferring east, north, south, and then west-facing directions.4-6 feet1 9/16″ diameter300 feet
Mountain ChickadeeConiferous forests, forest edges, woodland clearings; hole should face away from prevailing wind; 1″ wood shavings can be placed in box.5-15 feet1 1/8″ round1 box per 10 acres
Northern FlickerPastures, groves, woodlots, orchards, fields, meadows, woodland clearings, forest edges, urban parks, on pole or tree at forest edge or along fence rows bordering crop fields; south or east facing; box should be completely filled with wood chips or shavings.6-12 feet2 1/2″ round330 feet
Prothonotary WarblerLowland hardwood forests subject to flooding, stagnant water, swamps, ponds, marshes, streams, flooded river valleys, wet bottomlands; box should be over or near water.4-12 feet1 1/4″ round235 feet
Purple MartinBroad open areas (meadows, fields, farmland, swamps, ponds, lakes, rivers) with unobstructed space for foraging on flying insects; there should be no trees or buildings within 40 feet of the martin pole in any direction; houses should be painted white.10-15 feet2 1/8″ round or 3″ wide x 1 3/16″ high crescent10 feet
Red-breasted NuthatchMixed coniferous-deciduous forests, shrub lands, swamps, farmlands, suburban parks; hole should face away from prevailing wind; 1″ wood shavings can be placed in box.5-15 feet1 1/4″ round150 feet
Tree SwallowOpen fields near water, expansive open areas, marshes, meadows, wooded swamps; on a post in open areas near tree or fence, east facing.5-6 feet1 3/8″ round35 feet
Tufted TitmouseDeciduous forest, thick timber stands, woodland clearings, forest edges, woodlots, riparian and mesquite habitats; hole should face away from prevailing wind.5-15 feet1 1/4″ round580 feet
Violet-green SwallowOpen or broken deciduous or mixed deciduous-coniferous forests, wooded canyons, edges of dense forest.9-15 feet1 3/8″ round30 feet
Western Bluebirdopen field or lawn; orchards; open, rural country with scattered trees and low or sparse ground cover; will also use deciduous and coniferous forest edges; entrance hole should face open field, preferring east, north, south, and then west-facing directions.4-6 feet1 1/2″ diameter215 feet
Western Screech-OwlLower elevations, forests, parks, woodland clearings, forest edges, deserts, wooded stream edges, under a tree limb, south or east facing. Add 2″-3″ of wood shavings.10-30 feet3″ round1,000 feet
White-breasted NuthatchDeciduous woodlands, mature forests, woodlots, near open areas, forest edges, orchards, often near water; hole should face away from prevailing wind; 1″ wood shavings can be placed in box.5-20 feet1 1/4″ round1,040 feet
Wood DuckForested wetlands or near marshes, swamps, and beaver ponds; boxes can be installed on posts or poles in water, at least 3 feet above the high water mark, facing south or west. If installing on land, choose a site within 100 feet of water with no branches near the entrance hole and with a predator guard. Place 4 inches of wood shaving in box floor. Box should have fledgling ladder inside entrance hole to enable young to climb out.6-30 feet/td>4″ wide, 3″ high600 feet