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How to Choose & Prepare a Birdhouse

With a little time and some simple tools, you can create a welcoming home for your feathered friends and their families.


  • Step 1: Find store Birdhouses are sold at lots of different places—hardware stores, pet stores, and gardening stores are the likeliest bets. Find a store that you know will have a good-sized stock and a wide selection.
  • Step 2: Choose wood Make a beeline for the wood houses. The best choice will be a house made of durable cedar or cypress, and will have a rough surface, which gives birds a foothold as they enter and exit the house.
  • TIP: Make sure the interior of the house is untreated and unpainted. Chemical fumes can harm birds—and anyway, birds don’t give a hoot about interior decoration.
  • Step 3: Choose the right roof Choose a house with an angled roof, so that predators can’t sit on it—they could spook Mom and Dad into leaving home. And avoid metal, which attracts too much heat.
  • TIP: Never use a birdhouse with a perch below the entrance hole. Predators may perch themselves on it and wait for the birds inside to come out.
  • Step 4: Carve grooves After bringing your new birdhouse home, use a whittling knife or sharp penknife to carve grooves below the entrance hole on the inside and outside of the house. This will provide added traction for little bird toes.
  • Step 5: Ventilate It doesn’t need air conditioning, but be sure your birdhouse is well ventilated. If they aren’t there already, drill small holes along the edges of the top walls.
  • Step 6: Allow for drainage If the birdhouse needs them, you should also drill small holes in the corners and middle of the bottom, to allow drainage and keep the nest aired out.
  • TIP: Lightly rubbing the inside of the birdhouse with a bar of soap will help repel insects.
  • Step 7: Check entrance hole Make sure the entrance hole in the house is large enough for the birds in your neighborhood to come and go comfortably. If not, get out your trusty knife and perform some more repair work.
  • Step 8: Hang Hang your birdhouse in a safe, cat-free spot and start watching to see when your new tenants move in! When the season is over, clean out the birdhouse and save it for next spring.
  • FACT: Ostriches, which can weigh up to 300 pounds, lay their eggs in a communal nest scraped into the ground.

You Will Need

  • A hardware store
  • pet store
  • or gardening store that sells birdhouses
  • A whittling knife or sharp penknife
  • A drill
  • A cat-free spot to hang the birdhouse
  • A bar of soap

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