when do birds look for nest boxes

First things first: what species do you want to attract?

The shapes and sizes of nest boxes vary based on the species that uses them. As a result, when building or purchasing your box, make sure you know what diameter your entry hole should be and how much space is inside, to make it perfect for your target species. After all, anything from a bluebird to an osprey can use a nest box and nest platform!

NestWatch has a great resource for determining the right house for the right bird. All you have to do is input your location and your primary habitat.

when do birds look for nest boxes

when do birds look for nest boxes

“Features of a Good Birdhouse” is a great resource from NestWatch to make sure your box is species appropriate. These students at Manatee Bay Elementary have been building nest boxes for American Kestrels. These species-specific boxes will be placed in state parks in Florida to help American Kestrel populations.

There are certain places that birds will not build their nests. Make sure it’s easy for them to find your nest box by researching the habitat requirements of your target species and selecting your location appropriately. Your target species is more likely to find and utilize a box if it is placed close to places they frequent or resources they use.

when do birds look for nest boxes

In order to help the desert birds at Sunrise Elementary in Bullhead City, Arizona feel more at ease using the birdhouses, the students hung nest boxes in their yard with food and water sources. Additionally, you can support ongoing projects like Pam Evans’ students They built and installed nest boxes on an existing bluebird trail in collaboration with the East Central Illinois Bluebird Society. The Islip High School in New York City’s Keep Islip Clean (KIC) club has renovated its courtyard to provide a good home for a variety of nesting birds. Numerous birds, including mallards, sparrows, wrens, and chickadees, visit and make their nests in their courtyard.

To help you nail the right criteria for your nest box, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) has data for some of the more common birds including suggested size of the floor, depth of the box, entrance height above the floor, entrance diameter, and recommended height above ground. Get the details for Eastern Bluebird, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Tufted Titmouse, Red-headed Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Barn Owl, Screech Owl, and Wood Duck on the TPWD website here.

If you’ve succeeded in attracting birds to your nest boxes, your wildlife management efforts are working. Cheers! Now what? Attracting nesting birds means there will be nests and eggs and chirping baby birds in that box. And, eventually, more birds leaving it than had originally arrived. Which is the goal. When an Eastern Bluebird, for example, takes up residence in your nest box, here’s a nutshell – eggshell? – version of what happens inside from Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch:

Even though your well-laid out custom nest boxes may not attract the birds you had hoped for, you can almost always count on a few party crashers moving into a different, possibly more inconvenient, location. Last week, a Landmark friend—who has so far been unsuccessful in getting Purple Martins to move into the new house he built this year—walked into his shed and discovered a nest—likely constructed by a mischievous little wren—built in his post hole digger.

Not unlike humans, certain birds like their homes a certain way. Do your nest boxes fit their preferred criteria? For example, robins prefer open fronted nest boxes whereas tits prefer small boxes with a small entry hole. Check out these additional tips from British Bird Lovers’ “Why Birds Won’t Visit Your Nest Box”:

We all like immediate gratification but when it comes to attracting birds to your nest boxes, patience is definitely a virtue. If you waited too late this year to put up your nest boxes, on the bright side, they’re already in place. Just make sure they’re clean and ready and, using the tips above, consider if they’re really in the right place or if they should be moved or otherwise improved. As the National Wildlife Federation advises: “The main thing about attracting birds…is to let it happen over time and enjoy it. As birds begin to find your place you will be amazed at how many you see.”


How long does it take for birds to find a bird box?

How long will it take until a bird takes up residence in a nest box? Sometimes a nest box will be taken in its first season, but often you have to wait until the following year. If the box isn’t taken then, then there’s a good chance it won’t be, so try moving it to an alternative position.

What months do birds build nests?

Bird nesting season usually occurs in spring (around March 20 – June 20).

When should a nest box be placed?

Traditionally, nest boxes for small birds are put up in the spring — pairs begin to prospect in the latter half of February, so a box put up at the end of the winter stands a good chance of attracting nesting birds.

When should you put out a birdhouse?

Make sure to get your birdhouses up as soon as possible in the spring, well before the start of the breeding season. Mid to late March is ideal. If you don’t get your birdhouses up early enough, they may still be used to raise a second brood later in the summer, or the following year.