Cavity nesting birds are very particular about where they live. No matter how perfect your nest box, if you don't have the right habitat, the birds aren't likely to find it.  Consequently, where you put your bird house is as important as its design and construction. 

Not everyone has the habitat for a wood duck, or a purple martin, or a screech owl for that matter. On the other hand, just about anyone can attract a robin, a titmouse, a wren, or a chickadee.

Let's assume you've built or bought the "perfect" house. You put it out in your backyard in February. Months pass, and not one bird has landed on it. What's wrong?

It may be that you don't have the right habitat, or it may be where you put the house inside that habitat.

There are lots of things you can do to modify your land to attract the birds you want to see. It can be as simple as putting out a bird bath -- or as complicated as planting fruit-bearing shrubs or installing a pond with a waterfall.

But it's much easier just to identify the birds most likely to take to your backyard as it is and establish the appropriate nest box in the right place.

Should you hang it from a tree limb, 
nail it to a fence, 
or mount it on a pole 
or a tree trunk?

There's a wide range between how high and low you can place a nest box. Pick a height that's convenient for you. After all, you'll want to watch what goes on and it is your duty to keep the box clean. If you want to watch chickadees from your second floor window or deck, fifteen feet is not unreasonable but it's a lot easier to clean out a box at eye level.

Here are seven tips on where to put bird houses:

  1. houses mounted on metal poles are less vulnerable to predators than houses nailed to tree trunks or hung from tree limbs.  
  2. use no more than four small nest boxes for any one species or one large box per acre.  
  3. put about 100 yards between bluebird boxes and 75 yards between swallow boxes (if you have both species, 
  4. "pair" the houses with one bluebird box 25 feet from a swallow box. 
  5. Put the "pair" 100 yards away.)  
  6. don't put bird houses near bird feeders.  
  7. don't put more than one box in a tree, unless the tree is extremely large or the boxes are for different species.  

if you have very hot summers, face the entrance holes of your boxes north or east to avoid overheating the box.


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