Birdhouse dimensions and simple plans
You'll enjoy watching the birds who visit your yard for food, but it's even more interesting when you provide them with convenient places to nest. With a well-placed birdhouse (also called a nest box), you can observe family life, from the parents' nest building to feeding the young. With some luck (or a motion-activated camera), you might even see the fledglings leave the nest.
No one birdhouse works for all birds. You can see from the chart below that birds who are willing to nest in birdhouses are particular. They want the birdhouse to duplicate the conditions they would seek in nature. Each species looks for a birdhouse that fits within a narrow range of specifications. For example, you'll never coax a Robin to nest in an enclosed box of any size or shape, but a well-placed "shelf" might be used year after year. Gregarious Purple Martins prefer to nest in an "apartment building" along with many other families. Bluebirds like a deep birdhouse and woodpeckers an even deeper one. The size of the entrance hole in birdhouses plays a role, too, as you might assume. The small opening in a wren house, for example, helps to protect the wrens from predators, as well as keeps larger birds from taking it over.
Most hardware and general merchandise stores carry birdhouses specifically designed for certain birds. You can definitely find them at birdseed stores and online. Discount stores will carry inexpensive birdhouses, which usually prove to be examples of getting what we pay for: unsuitable wood for outdoor use, staples instead of screws, plastics (which don't "breathe," as wood will), and lack of an opening for easy cleaning.
Make the roof larger than
the box on all sides, incl.
a 3-in. overhang above
openings. Hinge the lid or
make it easy to unscrew for
Purple Martin house