Riverview Park and Zoo
Building a Nest Box
Building a bird house or nest box is a great way to provide habitat for bird populations and also get some free pest control services, but there are a few things to take into consideration before you start. Use the following recommendations to ensure that you are using a recipe for success:
What bird do you want to attract? This will determine the house type.
Use untreated wood only! Preservatives are toxic to birds - especially babies!
Use galvanized hardware to prevent rust
Build to prevent predators from accessing the box
Build with features to allow for air flow, drainage, and help fledglings exit the box.
Entry hole size is actually very important. Starlings (which out-compete native species) can’t fit through holes smaller than 1 ½” while other species like Chickadees can.
Don’t forget that one side should allow access to clean out the nest at the end of the season. Use one part bleach to nine parts water. Rinse well and leave it open to dry completely.
Biting Flies a concern?
Try building habitat for Purple Martin, swallows, swifts, flycatchers, and pheobes.
Garden Pests a concern? Try building habitat for Eastern Bluebirds, sparrows, wrens, robins.
Rodents becoming an issue?
Try building habitat for American Kestrels (hunt during the day) and small owls (hunt at night).
Consider notifying your neighbors and community about your plans to keep the area as safe as possible.
NestWatch has great resources and building plans for all types of species:
Placement of the nest box is really determined based on the bird that you decide to attract to your backyard.
For every nest box you put up, you are going to have to consider the preferred location of the species you are wanting to attract. In every case though the following is important to consider:
Securely place the house so it doesn’t sway in windstorms
Face entry hole away from prevailing winds, usually north east
Shade during the hottest part of the day is ideal
Keep away from food sources like bird feeders that can attract predators
Keep boxes at least 2 meters off of the ground
Clean out nest boxes between breeding seasons. This will remove any old nesting material and ensure that harmful bacteria and contaminants are kept away from the birds. Use gloves, a dust mask, and mild soapy water when cleaning.