Backyard Chirper

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How to set up a nesting box in your yard

Spring is finally here. After a dreary, but unusually warm winter, spring has come to give us beautiful weather, colorful flowers and the return of our favorite backyard birds. If you’re thinking about trying to get birds to nest in your yard this spring, now is the time before it’s too late.

While birds are fully capable of finding their own natural nesting boxes, the spread of human development has made prime nesting spots increasingly difficult to locate. That’s why it’s not only fun to set up a nesting box in your yard, but it’s also helpful.

When you’re setting up a nesting box for the birds, here are some important things to keep in mind.

Select the right nesting box

The type of nesting box you buy or make depends on the type of bird you’re trying to attract. A barn owl nesting box is obviously going to be different from a bluebird nesting box, so you have to do research to make sure your nesting box is the right one for the bird you’re trying to attract. The nesting box should match the characteristics that your targeted bird enjoys, such as having an appropriate entrance hole size.

Make sure it’s well-made

Although there are different types of nesting boxes for different species, they’re not all well-made. The nesting box should be made out of untreated wood like pine or fir, keep rain out, have drainage holes just in case water gets in, provide ventilation and have grooved walls. You should also make sure that the hole, especially if the nesting box is for smaller birds, is able to keep out invasive birds like starlings.

Be strategic with where you place the nesting box

As stated earlier, different species have difference preferences on the style and location of the nesting box. Before putting up a nesting box, you should make sure its location fits the preference of your target species. You should also avoid putting the nesting box in any area that could be dangerous, including places where cats frequent or pesticide is sprayed.

Things to keep in mind

You have to put up nesting boxes before breeding season because birds like to find their nesting spot well in advance. You also shouldn’t be discouraged if birds don’t use your nesting box for a season or two because it takes time for them to find it.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.


  1. We have 5 bluebird houses on 15 acres of meadows and we are enjoying two or three families building their nests this spring. To discourage the house wrens and sparrows from taking over the houses, we just installed a “Sparrow-Free Magic Halo” and are delighted with the effects. For two weeks there have been no more sparrows or wrens harassing our bluebird family. We’re heading out to buy 4 more and look forward to bluebirds all summer long.

  2. What is a Sparrow Free Magic Halo?

  3. We put smaller diameter trunks from dead cedar trees in the ground to mount our houses / boxes on. The “tree poles” won’t rot and they’re up high enough to keep the birdies safe!

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