Although there is still snow falling here in Indiana, everyone is starting to dream of spring and the start of nesting season for our feathered friends. I am regularly asked many questions about how best to attract nesting bird species through my work with Wild Birds Unlimited and various speaking engagements, so here’s my list of best tips for attracting nesting birds.
1. Choose a Nesting Box with the Proper Size Hole for the Species You Hope to Attract.
It’s really important to select the proper box for the birds that you would like to attract. Different birds prefer different hole sizes and different box sizes. Chickadees and most wrens prefer a box with a hole around 1 1/8″ in diameter, but bluebirds need the hole to be 1 1/2″ in order to get into the box. This also helps keep unwanted birds or predators away.
2. Be Sure to Point the Nesting Box in the Proper Direction.
Make sure you point the opening of your nesting box in an easterly direction. Most weather systems come from the west, so having your nest box(es) facing east will help avoid rain coming in through the entrance hole.
3. Consider Putting Predator Guards on Your Nesting Boxes.
There are a variety of predators that are interested in eating eggs and baby birds. Predators range from snakes to raccoons, but the threat can be minimized by adding a predator guard or baffle to the pole that you put your nesting box on. An 8″ diameter baffle will offer you the most protection.
4. If You Have Questions, Talk to an Expert.
There are many things to consider when choosing a nesting box, and if the options are overwhelming, just talk to an expert. Leave a message for me in the comment box or talk to someone at your local bird feeding store such as Wild Birds Unlimited. Some nesting boxes such as those for Purple Martins are complicated and have very precise specifications, so you will want to be sure to get more information before you purchase this type of box.
5. Leave Dead Trees Standing.
If it is safe to do so, leave dead trees standing in your yard. There is nothing quite like natural nesting locations for cavity nesting birds such as woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches.