Will Hummingbirds Use a Birdhouse?

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Find out whether a hummingbird birdhouse will get used, as well as tips for drawing nesting hummingbirds to live in your backyard.

It’s always a delightful sight when a hummingbird zips around. If their bright colors and spunky personalities bring a smile to your face, you’ve probably wondered how to entice them to take up residence — or if a hummingbird birdhouse would convince these tiny birds to raise their babies in your yard.

Will a Hummingbird Use a Birdhouse?

hummingbird birdhouseCourtesy Greg Griffin
Hummingbirds do not nest in birdhouses

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Unlike many other common backyard birds, hummingbirds avoid using birdhouses. The size of the box, the shape, or the color doesn’t make a difference. Thus, “hummingbird birdhouse” products sold in stores or online are unlikely to work.

Why, you ask, are your hummingbirds turning their beaks up at your nice, pretty birdhouses? It’s not an intentional slight! Instead, it’s all about the type of nest they construct. John Shewey, author of The Hummingbird Handbook, explains: “Hummingbirds are biologically and evolutionarily programmed to build their cup-style nest, so the short answer as to why they don’t use birdhouses is that they are not what we call ‘cavity nesters.’”

Hummingbird nests are fascinating — here’s everything you need to know. Plus, do hummingbirds mate for life, and can hummingbirds walk?

He continues to say that “cavity nesters” like bluebirds and wood ducks cannot excavate their own holes in trees to nest, but they do build homes in cavities woodpeckers leave behind. Thus, birdhouses work for these birds because they replicate their preferred nesting environment. Hummingbirds tend to build their nests in the forks of branches and, as John says, “in fairly dense cover, well above the ground.”

Discover more jaw-dropping facts about hummingbirds, and find out how to add a hummingbird bird bath to your yard.

How to Attract Nesting Hummingbirds

Hummingbird nestCourtesy Marion Ball
Hummingbirds build nests in forks of branches, not in tree cavities

There isn’t a 100% guaranteed way to get a female hummingbird to build a nest in your yard. There are, however, a few things you can try to show your flying jewels your yard is an ideal habitat. Hummingbirds have excellent memories, so if you make your yard a bountiful food source, with feeders and flowers, they might stick around and raise young. You can try planting nectar-producing blooms, or plants that offer hummingbirds their favorite nesting materials. Here are some of the best colorful flowers to grow for hummingbirds.

Most importantly, don’t take your birdhouses down just because you can’t attract hummingbirds to use them! Bluebirds, wrens, chickadees and other backyard birds will be happy to take up residence there. Learn how to build a one-board DIY birdhouse. Plus, will robins use a bird house?

To learn more, read The Hummingbird Handbook: Everything You Need to Know About These Fascinating Birds, published by Timber Press.

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Emily Hannemann
Emily Hannemann is an associate digital editor for Birds & Blooms. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in magazine writing from the University of Missouri - Columbia. When she’s not writing and editing, you’ll find her swimming, running, or hiking. She knows blue jays are controversial, but she loves them anyway.