Bird House Designs for Different Species

Although bird house designs are rather generic, the specifications for different species can vary greatly. Elements that differ include the size of the entry hole, the interior dimensions and the shape of the design.

Bird House Requirements
Different bird species have different needs when it comes to a bird house. Here are some bird species and the type of houses they prefer:

  • House Wren, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch - These birds need a 1-1/8" entrance hole: a larger hole will allow for competing sparrows to enter and destroy their nests. The floor of the bird house should be 4" x 4" and the walls should be 5" to 6" high. The bird house for these species should be pole mounted, near trees or shrubs and should be at least 6 feet off the ground.
  • Tree Swallow and Eastern Bluebird - These birds prefer an oval entry hole. A hole 1-3/8" wide by 2-1/4" high will create an entrance that is attractive to bluebirds and tree swallows. The floor of the bird house should be 5-1/2" x 5-1/2" and the walls should be 9" to 10" high. These bird houses should be pole mounted in an open area and should be at least 6 feet off the ground. Placing this type of bird house facing northeast will keep them from overheating in the afternoon sun.
  • American Robin and Barn Swallow - These birds actually prefer an open shelf to an enclosed box. The shelf should be a minimum of 7" on a side and should have a sheltering roof 8" above the floor. The nesting shelf can be mounted on a pole or wall 6 to 10 feet high, in a sheltered location.
  • Purple Martin - Martins live in colonies, so your bird house design should have several openings 2-1/4" in diameter and rooms divided into partitions. Purple martin houses should be mounted at least 8 feet high on a pole in an open area. If possible, the entry holes should be covered until mid-April when martins start to nest, otherwise, sparrows will take over the bird house.
  • American Kestrel, Northern Screech-owl - These large birds like to nest at the edge of wooded areas near open fields. They require 3" entry holes and a floor area of 8" by 8". The walls of these bird houses should be 17" high. Mount this bird house at least 14 feet high, attached to a pole or large tree. A predator guard should be used to keep squirrels from taking over the bird house.
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