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Mounting a Bird House

How to Put Up a Bird House Properly

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Bird Houses

How you put up bird houses can make a difference for nesting birds.

Tom Brandt

When it is time to put up a bird house, whether you are putting up a new house for the first time or repositioning a house in a new season, understanding how to best mount the house will make it more attractive to nesting birds. Properly mounted bird houses are also easier to monitor and care for, ensuring plenty of backyard birding excitement for many nesting seasons to come.

Factors to Consider When Mounting a Bird House

Many birders may take great care to select a bird house that has suitable dimensions, features and colors for their favorite cavity-nesting species, but even the best house will not attract birds if it is not mounted properly. To put up a bird house, consider...

  • Mounting Mechanism: How the bird house is mounted affects its safety and security. Many bird houses are designed to be attached to a tree, building or pole where they will be stable and comfortable to birds, but other designs may be hung. Some birds don't mind a bit of swinging in the house, others will avoid less stable houses.

  • Location: Ideally, the house should be in a private area somewhat remote from nearby feeders or bird baths where a lot of other bird activity could make brooding parents anxious. Placing a bird house in a more concealed area helps camouflage the house, and nearby branches for perching will give adult birds a good place to watch over their family.

  • Height: Different bird species have different preferences for the heights at which they will build their nests (see table below). Higher houses are generally safer from feral cats and similar predators, but they can be more difficult to mount, clean and monitor. Backyard birders should be aware, as well, that birds are quite flexible with their height requirements and may easily choose a home outside their ideal range.

  • Climate: In rainy areas, it is best to mount a bird house in a sheltered area, while in a hot region, a shaded location is essential. The entrance hole should always be facing away from prevailing winds to help protect delicate hatchlings.

  • Safety: Regardless of where the house is mounted, it should be sturdy and resistant to wobbling or slipping. Baffles placed above and below the house can help deter predators such as raccoons, rats and snakes, and the bird house itself should be designed to be safe.

  • Monitoring and Cleaning: No matter which birds will be using the house, it is essential for birders to be able to access the house regularly for proper cleaning and to monitor any hatchlings. Mount the house in an area where there is sturdy, level ground beneath it if a ladder will be required.

  • Other Houses: Even social, gregarious birds need privacy to feel secure when raising a family, and usually only 1-2 bird houses may be in use in one yard at the same time, with the exception of homes for colonial species such as purple martins. Mounting several houses, however, will give birds a greater selection for choosing the home they prefer and will increase the chances of birds nesting in the yard.

A Word About Window Houses

Several models of window-mount bird houses with clear back panels are available, with the enticing promise of allowing birders to watch birds raising their families with comfortable indoor viewing. While birds will use these houses, it is still important that they be sturdily mounted, preferably on a window of a quiet room so nesting parents are stressed as little as possible. If birds do use the house, birders and other observers should avoid tapping on the glass or otherwise disturbing the birds while the nest is being brooded or when the chicks are young. If they are disturbed, the parents may abandon their nest, or the chicks could try to leave the nest prematurely.

More Tips for Mounting Bird Houses

To make the most of every location you choose for mounting a bird house and to make it as attractive as possible to breeding birds...

  • Use the best hardware and proper mounting equipment to ensure security and stability.
  • Offer nesting material nearby to entice birds to use the bird house more readily.
  • Put up the house early so it is available as soon as birds begin looking for real estate.
  • Leave the bird house up through the fall and winter to serve as a bird roost box for extra shelter.

Birds may not seem to be picky about where they nest each year, but taking care to mount bird houses in the best possible way will make them even more attractive to all the cavity-nesting birds that need a place to call home.

Photo – Bird Houses © Tom Brandt

Best Bird House Mounting Heights

Bird SpeciesIdeal House Height Range
Barn Owls15-20' (5-6m)
Bluebirds3-6' (1-2m)
Chickadees5-15' (2-5m)
Finches4-10' (1-3m)
Nuthatches5-18' (2-6m)
Purple Martins10-15' (3-5m)
Screech Owls10-30' (3-9m)
Titmice5-10' (2-3m)
Wood Ducks6-30' (2-9m)
Woodpeckers10-20' (3-6m)
Wrens6-10' (2-3m)
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