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 hang 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.
Even the best house, however, 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 some designs may be hung with hooks, wires, ropes or chains. Some birds don't mind a bit of swinging in the house, though others will avoid less stable houses. To be safe, research the mounting mechanism your backyard birds prefer before putting up the house.
- 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. Some birds, such as bluebirds and purple martins, do prefer bird houses in more open areas.
- 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. It is most important that the house be mounted safely and securely, even if the height may not be ideal.
- Climate: In excessively rainy areas, it is best to mount a bird house in a sheltered area, while in a very hot region, a cooler, 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 stool or ladder will be required to reach it.
- Other Houses: Even social, gregarious birds need privacy to feel secure when raising a family. 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, even if not every house is used at once.
A Word About Window Houses
Several models of window-mount bird houses with clear or one-way mirror 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. Using curtains inside the room can help keep disturbances to a minimum, and the curtains are easy to move aside to check the house. If nesting birds are disturbed too much, 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.
- Check the house after storms or severe weather and repair any damage if needed.
- 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 hang 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.
Best Bird House Mounting Heights
|Bird Species||Ideal House Height Range|
|Barn Owls||15-20' (5-6m)|
|Purple Martins||10-15' (3-5m)|
|Screech Owls||10-30' (3-9m)|
|Wood Ducks||6-30' (2-9m)|