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© 2002, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


Providing bird houses and shelves can be a fun and rewarding part of a wildlife program. It doesn't matter where you live - in an apartment, townhouse, or single family dwelling in a town, a suburb, or the country, you can attract birds by providing the proper nesting structure. Birds such as black-capped chickadees, purple martins, or bluebirds are cavity nesters and can benefit from bird houses. Other birds like the American robin and the barn swallow will use open nesting structures. A well-built house that is durable, rainproof, cool, and easy to clean can add to the attractiveness of your property. Knowing when not to disturb nesting birds is important. Avoid disturbing nest boxes at night and during rainy or windy weather, because under these conditions, frightening the adult birds away could result in chilled eggs or nestlings. Also, avoid checking boxes during the first few days of incubation, in the morning when females are laying eggs, and when young are close to fledging. Adults may abandon nests and nearly-fledged young could leave the nest prematurely. Observe the box for a moment. If you don't see or hear any birds, tap on the box. Take a quick peek inside. If everything is okay, close the box, and leave the area. If you see problems (parasites; predators; or unwanted occupants such as wasps, ants, or mice), remove them using appropriate caution, close the box, and leave the area. Keep a record of your bird house contents to better judge when the young may fledge.