Bird houses are a great way to attract more birds to your yard. And to any birding enthusiast, one of life’s great pleasures is watching a pair of birds move into a bird house they’ve put up and produce a family. Equally though, it can be frustrating to see your bird house remain empty year after year. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some possible reasons why and some bird house mistakes you may be making…
Bird House Mistakes
One of the biggest bird house mistakes people make is not keeping their houses safe from cats and other predators. Cats can easily jump 2 metres or more, so if you position your bird house closer to the ground than this, or within this distance of a surface a cat can access, then any birds using your bird house won’t be safe. In fact, they’re unlikely to last long at all.
A similar issue is that most birds have particular preferences when it comes to where they like to nest. For example, some birds prefer to nest in trees while others prefer the eaves of a roof. So you need to make sure that you position your bird houses in places that are suitable for the bird species that are common in your area and that you wish to attract to your yard.
Likewise, many bird species are particular about the size and shape of their nesting cavity. For example, some birds like a certain size of entrance hole while others will insist on a sloping roof. The materials that the bird house is made from will also be a factor, as will the smell. Most birds will stay well clear of a bird house that smells of paint, for example.
Another mistake people make, especially when they make their own bird houses but it’s also true of many commercial bird houses, is to have a perch too close to the entrance hole. Perches close to the hole will attract predators as they can easily sit on the perch and reach into the hole to steal eggs and babies. And the birds know this only too well so they won’t often use a bird house such as this. So avoid bird houses with perches near the entrance hole.
Many people think they’re doing a good thing and helping the birds by leaving old, leftover nests in their bird houses. But many birds would rather create a new nest from scratch and so they’ll avoid houses that are full of old nesting material as this just makes it harder for them. So always clean out your bird houses.
If you’re having trouble attracting birds to your bird houses, make sure you’re not making any of the bird house mistakes described in this article. Take the time to learn which species are common in your location, and choose the type and location of your bird houses accordingly. And remember, the better you know and understand the birds in your area, the better you can provide a nice, safe haven for them.
17 thoughts on “Bird House Mistakes – Why Are My Bird Houses Empty?”
I would have to admit the biggest mistake my family has made in the past is not keeping the bird house out of reach of the cats. These are some really good tips. Also, make sure you make the whole big enough for the bird to go into. I have made that mistake before.
Absolutely. I love cats, but you do have to watch them when it comes to birds.
Our bird house is attached to our back side of the ahead. Painted white with a blue roof and three(3 )
Entrances of 1 1/2″ diameter.
It’s been their two(2) years and not one bird has gone into the bird house.
1. Approximately 8′ off the ground.
2. ? Possible because close to roof line other’s can attack the house.
? Holes to large and has 3 entrances rather then 1
Bird houses are a fantastic way to add shelter to a bird-friendly backyard, but if no birds are nesting in the houses, why not? There can be a wide range of problems and difficulties with bird houses, but there are also easy ways to fix each problem to make the houses more attractive to nesting birds. If birds aren’t using your bird houses, check these common problems and solutions to be a better bird landlord.
It is a mistake to assume that wild birds aren t picky about clean feeders. A dirty feeder can become clogged, and wet or spoiled seed can transmit diseases to backyard birds , which can then spread to an entire neighborhood flock. Dirty feeders are also more susceptible to damage and wear, making them less useful over time.
I build some bird house this past spring but have no birds living in them. Thanks for the advice about making sure your bird house is safe from predators. I’ll also have to see about maybe buying some better birdhouses that are larger than mine.
It is good to know the importance of positioning birdhouses correctly. It would be nice to attract birds because they feel comfortable with where you placed the birdhouse. I have also heard that it is important to make sure the entrance hole is big enough for desired birds to enter.
We are so excited for spring to be coming up. This year, we want to buy a birdhouse that will attract all the birds to our yard. These are some great things to keep in mind to make sure the birds are actually able to use the birdhouses. I can definitely see why keeping them away from cats or other predators would be important. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for this info. My child loves birds. I am now looking up some bird houses to add to our garden.
I like how you mentioned that it’s necessary to have our birdhouse to be placed in a safe area away from the predators while keeping their capture conditions in check based on what bird we are trying to lure in. That sounds like a game of Pokemon or some sort of collecting game which makes it seem to be quite a fun thing to try out. I’ll try looking into the internet as to what birds are locally available in our area and try to have a rare one nest in our yard. Once I’m sure of its capture conditions, I would be sure to buy the perfect decorative wooden birdhouse for them. Thanks!
I don’t know what kind of birds I have in my yard other than Cardinals Galore and bluebirds. My body seems to be interested in my Nest I don’t know how high to put them or how low to put them
Well I learned a lot too.. We have at least 10 birdhouses scattered around house and yard. We hae a lot of trees and decks. I started making perches out of drift wood thinking it would help birds and look more natural but according to this, that was big mistake. 🙁
the first year we put up our bird house we had a few living in then (its a 6 hole house ) but this year we notice that one of th holes was cloged with nesting material . and no one moved in to the rest . when we took down to see what was going on we found one full of nesting material and the other empty. also a ants nest was in the top. we took down cleaned and put back up. but what can we do to stop that from happening again.
Thanks for explaining that we should position birdhouses in a way that’s suitable for the particular bird species in our area. My husband and I recently moved to a home with a nice backyard, and I think it would be really nice to add some decorative birdhouses to the yard. I’m glad I read your article because now I can do some research about local birds and make sure to place the birdhouses in a suitable area!
It’s good to know that I should pay attention to where I put my birdhouse at so they’ll feel comfortable and safe nesting there. My wife loves watching birds so I want to surprise her with a birdhouse this spring. We’d be sad if it sat empty, so I’ll make sure it finds a place where predators can’t get to it and that suits the species preferences.
Should the birdhouse have any kind of perch or just not have one at all. I have seen the mother bird feeding her babies from a perch?
Worried about ants getting in house so I used Vaseline on chain. Now I’m reading that it can harm birds if they get it in their feathers. Don’t think they’re around chain bc it’s hanging from tree. Should I wipe it off ?