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How Long Does It Take for a Bird to Use a Birdhouse?

How Long Does It Take for a Bird to Use a Birdhouse?

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Installing birdhouses in your yard can be a lot of fun. If you love watching birds, it’s a good idea to do so.

It can be a bit disheartening when the birds aren’t paying attention to the birdhouse, though. Does it take a long time for birds to warm up to using a birdhouse?

Could it be that you’re doing something wrong? Read on to learn about all of the possibilities.

Not All Birds Use Birdhouses

Not all birds are going to use birdhouses. In fact, some birds that you might be trying to attract to your yard are known to avoid birdhouses.

Cardinals and goldfinches are two popular bird species that won’t use birdhouses. Even so, there are many birds that will be open to using birdhouses.

There should be types of birds in your area that will occupy the houses. Many species in each region of North America are known to occupy birdhouses.

Birds known as “cavity nesters” like birdhouses. These species include chickadees, bluebirds, tree swallows, and house wrens.

You can even attract woodpeckers and certain types of owls to birdhouses in some areas. Why aren’t the birds using your birdhouses, then?

There are a few things that could be happening. Read on to learn about this topic so you can understand the situation better.

It Could Be the Wrong Time of the Year

Could it be that you put a birdhouse in the yard during the wrong time of the year? This is an interesting topic because you’d assume that spring would be a perfect time.

While it’s true that birds are commonly seen during the spring, it’s also true that many birds are “early nesters.” You might have put the birdhouse out a bit late and the birds already found a nesting location for the season.

Birds might start nesting a bit early and you might not even realize it. Sometimes birds like to watch a location for a little while to ensure that it’s safe, too.

This allows them to use the birdhouse while feeling confident that it’s in a spot that’s relatively safe from threats. Thus, putting your birdhouse in the yard earlier than usual might be the best route to take.

Is the Birdhouse High Enough?

The height of the birdhouse will play a role in how appealing it is to the birds. It could be that you didn’t place the birdhouse in a high enough location.

Generally, a birdhouse needs to be placed at least four feet off of the ground or birds won’t want to use it. Some birds might prefer birdhouses that are much higher than that.

It could be useful to get information about the type of birds you’re trying to attract. This will allow you to put the birdhouse in the right location where it will be high enough.

As an example, bluebirds are known to prefer nesting in cavities that are five or six feet high. Owls seem to prefer nesting in cavities that are between ten and fifteen feet high.

Ideally, you should put the birdhouse in the middle of the yard by using some type of pole. This protects the birds from predators better than installing a birdhouse on a tree or a fence.

Don’t Put Birdhouses Close Together

Many people install multiple birdhouses on their properties. It’s normal to do this, but you shouldn’t put the birdhouses close together.

If the birdhouses are placed within a few feet of each other, that’s not ideal. You might have birds occupying one of the birdhouses while the others will remain empty.

To get better results, birdhouses should be spaced out. Birds won’t want to occupy birdhouses that are too close to other bird families.

They don’t want to compete with other birds that are so close. Try placing the birdhouses at least twenty-five feet apart.

This should give all of the birds enough privacy and they will feel as if they have their own space. Sometimes it might be better to space the birdhouses out more than this, too.

Problems with the Birdhouse Entrance Hole

Another thing that you should think about is the type of entrance hole that the birdhouse has. You could be trying to attract larger birds that won’t fit in the entrance hole.

If the birds in your area are too large for the hole, it makes sense that the birdhouse would remain unoccupied. The diameter of the entrance hole needs to be the right size.

When you’re attempting to attract chickadees, you’ll only need entrance holes with a diameter of 1.25 inches. Kestrels are larger and will need entrance holes to be 3 inches in diameter.

Understand the birds in your area that you’re trying to attract. If you know the needs of the local birds, it’ll be easier to get appropriately sized birdhouses.

Nearby Predators

Nearby predators can scare birds away and keep them from occupying birdhouses. Are there stray cats that like to come to your yard?

These predatory animals could be keeping the birds from feeling comfortable enough to use the birdhouses. Try to keep predators away from the locations where you place the birdhouses.

Clear Out the Previous Year’s Nest

Sometimes you might forget to clear out the nest from the previous year. Clean out the birdhouse between seasons so new birds will be able to utilize it.

Place Bird Feeders and Birdbaths Nearby

Putting bird feeders and birdbaths nearby can help to attract more birds. Birdhouses are separate from feeders, but you can keep feeders in the yard for the birds.

The birds will also appreciate having a source of water. Consider installing a birdbath somewhere in your yard.

Final Thoughts

Some birds might watch a birdhouse for a few weeks before using it to see that it’s safe. It’s best to put the birdhouse out in the yard several weeks before spring so early nesters might decide to use it.

Use the advice above to ensure that birds will be attracted to the birdhouse. If you avoid making common mistakes, it’ll be far easier to get good results.

Having birdhouses in your yard should be a fantastic experience. This is something that you can enjoy each year.


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