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ornithologist

Birdhouses are designed to give wild birds a warm, secure place to rest their heads. These houses can also provide them with much-needed shelter from the elements, not to mention dangerous predators. They will also allow the cautious bird to monitor their local food source and avoid confrontations with other birds in the yard that are aggressive with your bird feeders. But the best birdhouses are designed to not only provide shelter, but they should also be durable enough to withstand the elements, year after year. If you don’t want to replace them each year, then you need top of the line models that make the houses more inviting to local wildlife and a durable design that ensures you get the most bang for your buck.

My in-depth buyer’s guide and the product recommendations I’ve included here will show you exactly what you need out of a birdhouse that’s comfortable, secure, and made to last. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that lists each of the models that made it onto my best-of list, their top features, and how they rated.

Bird Houses Comparison Chart

ProductMountSpeciesTypeRating
Perky-Pet 50301 Bird House
HangingWrenStandard
Nature's Way Bird Products CWH3
Pole/FlushBluebirdsBox
Nature's Way Bird Products Bird House
HangingWrenStandard
Dawhud Direct Bird House
HangingNuthatches/WrensStandard
Woodlink Wooden Bird House
Pole/FlushBluebirdsBox
Heath Outdoor Products 30004
HangingPurple MartinsGourd
CARTMAN Colored Country
HangingWrenStandard

Perky-Pet 50301 Bird House


Our Rating: (5/5)

This birdhouse is specifically designed with wrens in mind and features a height of six and a half inches, with an entryway that’s just one and a half inches. This model can be hung from a tree branch or pole and comes equipped with a thick hanging rope that’s designed to withstand a heavier load and high wind conditions. The house itself is made out of solid fir, which is thick, durable, and able to provide protection from the elements. The Dutch style room and charming design will definitely make the house stand out in any garden, yet the earth tone aesthetics is exactly what a bird in search of a low-key nesting spot is looking for.

Pros

  • Made out of solid fir
  • Hanging style
  • Durable
  • Wren-specific style
  • Material is naturally weather-resistant

Cons

  • Can be difficult to take apart for cleaning

Conclusion

This elegant birdhouse is perfect for wrens in search of a secure, safe nesting spot. The dimensions are specifically tailored to this specie’s preferences, so you’ll be sure to attract a pair of nesting wrens this upcoming season.

Nature’s Way Bird Products CWH3 Bird House


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This birdhouse is specifically designed for bluebirds and features the classic box-style design. The house is made out of cedar, which is naturally rot-resistant and insect-resistant. The house also has a water-based protective stain, which ensures that it can withstand the elements. The air vents provide maximum airflow via the floor openings and through the walls. The design makes the house easy to take apart at the end of the season. The smaller entryway is designed to protect against predators and will leave the inhabitants feeling safe and secure.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Made out of solid cedar
  • Specifically designed for bluebirds
  • Excellent ventilation

Cons

  • Price

Conclusion

This model comes with a flush mount or pole mount option, adding to its versatility. It comes with hardware that’s rust-free, which will allow you to leave the house up year-round so it can be used by wintering birds. This is a great choice for the birder in search of a house that’s designed to specifically attract cardinals or a nesting pair of bluebirds, and a house that’s durable and able to handle anything that mother nature throws its way.

Nature’s Way Bird Products Bird House


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This solid cedar birdhouse is designed specifically for wrens and comes with rust-free hardware, so the birdhouse can be kept outdoors year-round. The innovative design allows you to easily clean out the house at the end of every season. The smaller entryway will prevent predators from gaining access to the interior, so birds will feel safe and secure during their nesting period. The ventilation system promotes proper airflow through the floor and walls, to reduce the chances of disease and keep the inhabitants nice and cool.

Pros

  • Vinyl hanging cord
  • Made out of solid cedar
  • Small opening
  • Low price

Cons

  • Not designed to handle high wind conditions

Conclusion

Equipped with an excellent ventilation system, a low-maintenance design that allows you to easily clean out the interior at the end of each season, and made out of durable, solid cedar, this unique wren birdhouse is built to last and a steal for the price.

Dawhud Direct Butterfly Hand-Painted Bird House


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model is small, with a width of seven inches and a height of eight inches, making it perfect for nuthatches and wrens. The beautiful hand-painted butterfly and flower design is very eye-catching and will bring a little whimsical charm to any yard or garden. The standard house will hang from a jute cord attached securely from the top. The bottom comes equipped with a removable clean-out plug, however, there’s no way to remove the roof or another panel, which can make it difficult to clean out at the end of the season.

Pros

  • Hand-painted
  • Designed for wrens and nuthatches
  • Low price
  • Includes jute cord

Cons

  • Made out of polyresin
  • Cannot easily access the interior for cleaning

Conclusion

This compact, hand-painted birdhouse can be difficult to clean and maintain, which may be a deal-breaker for some potential buyers. The compact design and small entryway make it perfect for nuthatches and wrens, but a poor choice for larger species.

Woodlink Wooden Bird House


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model features the classic box style that makes it perfect for bluebirds. It’s constructed out of inland red cedar that has been reforested and kiln-dried, for increased durability. The one and a half-inch entryway will ensure the birds and eggs are safe from predators, while the half an inch ventilation gap at the top of the house and the drainage hole at the base ensures proper airflow. The design allows you to easily open and take apart the house for cleaning, at the end of the season.

Pros

  • Easy to clean
  • Made out of red cedar
  • Attracts bluebirds
  • Low price

Cons

  • Bigger ventilation system needed

Conclusion

This model is made out of pure red cedar, so you know it’s durable and able to withstand the elements. The ventilation system could be better, considering it only consists of a small gap at the top of the house and a drainage hole at the base. These flaws aside, this model is a great choice for any birder hoping to attract a nesting pair of bluebirds.

Heath Outdoor Products 30004 4-Pack Bird House


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This is a four-pack of gourd style birdhouses. These houses are designed to attract purple martins, so they should be hung closely together since these birds prefer to nest in a colony. The houses are made out of durable plastic and painted white in order to deflect the heat, keeping the birds and eggs nice and cool during intense summer heat. These should be hung on the branch of a tree or a pole that allows you to hang a number of houses.

Pros

  • Low price
  • Specifically designed for purple martins
  • Pack of four
  • Designed to reflect heat
  • Starling-resistant

Cons

  • Not designed for year-round use

Conclusion

While durable, these houses don’t have what it takes to handle high wind conditions or heavy snow or rainfall, so they’re best used during the nesting season only. This pack of four is reasonably priced and the perfect choice if you’re looking for houses that are designed to attract purple martins.

CARTMAN Colored Country Cottages Bird House


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

While the more experienced birder will search for a more low-profile looking birdhouse in order to increase their chances of a nesting pair calling their birdhouse their home, there are some birding enthusiasts who are looking for a more unique and eye-catching birdhouse, one that will match the exterior of the house or a model that will complement the garden or yard. This country cottage-inspired birdhouse will be a beautiful addition to any yard or garden, but its bright colors may deter some nesting birds from calling this house their home. In fact, it has more of a focus on aesthetics than functionality. Taking the house apart is not possible, which can make maintenance at the end of the nesting season complicated.

Pros

  • Farmhouse design
  • Colorful
  • Low price
  • Durable

Cons

  • Colors may deter birds from using the house for nesting
  • Difficult to clean

Conclusion

This model is a better choice for people who are looking for a decorative birdhouse, not a functional one. While the design is very farmhouse chic, it doesn’t work well for certain species of birds who are in search of a low-profile house that allows them to hide in plain sight.

Bird Houses Buyer’s Guide

The type of birdhouse you need for your yard will depend on the species of birds that you hope to attract. So, before you start adding houses to your cart, make sure you spend a little time researching the local bird species in your area. This will help you determine what types of houses you need in terms of features and size. Some birds won’t be attracted to any type of house, others don’t nest, and some birds will look for houses that offer specific features. Once you have determined what types of birds you’d like to move into your new birdhouse, then you’ll need to look for a house that’s equipped with many of the features that these birds will find appealing.

How to Attract Nesting Birds to Your Birdhouse

Adding a birdhouse to your backyard and watching as a pair of birds move on in and use the house to raise their young is an experience like no other, especially for the avid birder. However, not all species of birds will use a birdhouse. This includes very popular birds such as goldfinches, orioles, and orange birds of North America, such as cardinals. Yet, there are more than enough common birds that do nest in these houses that will definitely make adding a house to your yard worth it. There are approximately thirty species of birds in every part of the country that are cavity nesters. This means that these birds prefer nesting in birdhouses. This includes the following species:

  • Nuthatches
  • Titmice
  • Woodpeckers
  • Screech-owls
  • Wood ducks
  • House sparrows
  • Tree swallows
  • Chickadees
  • House wrens
  • Purple martins
  • Bluebirds

But simply placing a birdhouse in your backyard isn’t enough to attract inhabitants. There are many factors that you’ll need to consider that will encourage birds to call your birdhouse their new home.

Once a pair of nesting birds locate your birdhouse, they will be more likely to call it home every season. So, to get started, the first thing you need to do to ensure your birdhouse gets used this season is to choose the proper location.

Appropriate Location

Each species will have a different type of habitat requirement, and this includes the location of the nesting site. As an example, bluebirds prefer a house that’s in an area that is surrounded or faces an open field. This is because this type of location will make it easier for them to quickly hunt for insects that will be used to feed their young. The chickadee prefers a house on a stand of small trees or in a thicket. The house wren prefers its home to hang off the branch of a small tree, in an open area. The purple martin prefers that their houses be on top of a secure pole, in an open field or lawn. The tree swallow will find a spot that’s located close to water, which will make it easier for them to hunt for aquatic insects that they can use to feed their young.

Design

Beautiful

Aside from placing the house in the perfect location, each species will also require a specific type of design. The purple martin usually prefers to live in a community of many birds. Because of this, choosing an apartment-style birdhouse will be more likely to attract this species of bird. The house wren will live in a small, single house and doesn’t want to nest close by any other birds, even other house wrens. The bluebird is attracted to single-room houses that are usually fifty yards apart. Regardless of the type of house you choose, make sure it’s made out of wood. It should also be well-ventilated at the top, complete with drainage holes in the floor. It should be stained or painted an earth tone. However, if you’re trying to attract purple martins, then you’ll need to use homes that are made out of dried gourds or aluminum and painted a bright white, which will help to keep the house cooler by reflecting the heat.

Typically, these houses must be small for smaller species, and large for large species. The house wren will be content with a house that’s four by six inches at the base and eight inches tall. A chickadee will choose a house that’s eight inches tall with a base that measures in at five by five inches. The bluebird is very large and will require the most room, so its house should be six by six inches with a height of ten inches. Screech-owls and wood ducks also require plenty of space and will need a house that’s at least two feet high and ten inches by ten inches.

Entrance Size

The size of the entryway will also be important, especially if you’re trying to entice a certain species. The house wren is very small so it can make do with an entrance that’s a little over one and a half inches. This helps to keep out predators and competing nesters. The screech-owl needs a type of elliptical doorway that measures in at four by three inches and is placed approximately eighteen inches above the floor of the house. This type of oval-shaped entryway will prevent predators from accessing the nest. Chickadees and nuthatches prefer an entryway that’s around one inch.

Keep in mind, even if you meet these requirements, not every house will attract birds. The best way to improve your odds is to purchase a variety of different styles of houses.

Other Birdhouse Features

As you can see, each species have their own requirements that will factor into whether or not they will call your birdhouse their home for the season. Below, you’ll find other important features to look for that can help to increase your odds of attracting inhabitants.

Safety

While the goal is to attract nesting birds, keep in mind that you’ll also want to prevent certain predators from getting inside or accessing the birdhouses. Some aggressive species of birds, raccoons, and squirrels can drive birds away. Fortunately, you’ll come across several accessories and features that you can use to keep these animals away from the nest and provide much-needed protection for your tenants.

Materials

As I mentioned earlier, in most cases, you’ll want to buy a house that’s made out of wood, unless you’re purchasing a house for purple martins, in which case look for aluminum. If you want your birdhouse to last more than a single season, then look for one that’s made out of solid wood, not cheap particle board. The house needs to be tough enough to withstand intense heat, however, if you plan on leaving it out year-round to provide shelter for winter birds, then you’ll need to ensure that it’s able to handle snow, sleet, and rain.

To learn more about winter survival, click here to read my guide on where do birds sleep in the winter.

Low-Maintenance

If you want to be able to thoroughly clean the house out once the birds have left the nest, then look for a model that’s easy to take apart or one that comes with a large removable panel that allows you to access the inside. Maintenance at the end of every season is a must, in order to prevent the spread of disease and to also avoid attracting rodents.

If you’re not sure how to clean a birdhouse or when click here to read my in-depth guide on when do you clean out birdhouses.

Aesthetics

If you’re placing the house in your garden or in front of your home, then the house’s design will be important to use. Of course, the design must both work to attract birds for nesting and to beautify your landscape.

Mounting Options

There are many different styles and types of houses to choose from, each of which can also be mounted in a variety of ways. Some houses must be wall-mounted. This type of house is usually attached to a fence, wall, or tree. The back of the house is either hooked to whatever you attach it to or screwed in. Pole-mounted options are very popular because they provide birds with protection from predators. These simple houses have a base that clamps directly onto the top of the pole. Hanging houses are very versatile and can be hung on a bird pole feeder or a branch. This type of house will sway in the wind easily, so you’ll need to ensure that it’s suspended by a very tough cord that will not break under the load of nesting birds.

Types of Birdhouses

Mountain

When you’re shopping, you’ll find no shortage of birdhouses to choose from. This type of selection will allow you to choose a house, based on the species of birds you want to attract.

Next Box

While this setup may look very basic, many species of birds love them. This style of birdhouse features a design that’s box-like, complete with a huge roof that can provide protection from the elements such as rain and wind, while also giving the inhabitants some much-needed shade. These boxes are much deeper compared to other styles of birdhouses, so they’re a great option for larger birds. The nest box should be hung at least six feet off the ground.

Apartment Style

Purple martins prefer to nest in groups, unlike other types of birds. This species prefers nesting with a colony, so you’ll need to find apartment style houses that offer several rooms. This type of birdhouse should be mounted around twelve to fifteen feet off the ground and placed in an open area that’s away from foliage and trees.

Gourd

In the past, gourds were hollowed out and used as birdhouses. These days, you can still find this type of house on the market. These houses are usually made out of man-made materials, yet they still feature the classic gourd shape. Many times, you’ll find that these houses are sold in group arrangements, which is perfect for birds that prefer to nest in a colony, such as the purple martins. Yet, these houses will also appeal to a variety of cavity-nesting birds.

Best Protection from Predators

If you’re worried that a predator will get their hands on the eggs in your birdhouse, or scare away your tenants, then take some extra precautions to ensure your nesting birds remain safe. Use a pole mount and mount the house on top of it. This can provide protection against raccoons and squirrels. You can also purchase squirrel baffles, which will make it difficult for them to climb the pole. Make sure you choose a house that doesn’t come equipped with any perches, which will give a determined predator a foothold, making it easier for them to climb and enter the house.

Maintenance Needs

At the end of every season, you’ll need to plan on cleaning out the birdhouse in order to ensure your next visitors remain healthy. This way, the birdhouse remains clean and neat and sanitary for the next visitors. Once you’re sure that the last inhabitants have moved out, follow the steps below to clean out the birdhouse properly.

  • Depending on the type of birdhouse you have, take it apart or open a panel before you get started. This will make it much easier to access the inside of the house.
  • Get rid of any old nesting material, scraping out any remaining shells, feces, and food that may have stuck to the floors or walls of the house.
  • Mix together a weak solution of nine parts water and one part of bleach and use this to scrub out the ventilation holes, drainage holes, entrance holes, floors, and walls.
  • The next step is to rinse the house using warm clean water and allow it to sit out in the sun for eight to twelve hours.
  • After the house has had time to dry, make sure that the drainage holes and the ventilation holes are working properly and clean and not clogged. You will also need to inspect the house and look for any splinters or protruding nails and fix both in order to keep your birdhouse safe for the next inhabitants.
  • Once you’ve given the house the all-clear, you can reassemble it and store it away until the next season.
  • These houses should be cleaned in the winter, once the birds have migrated. But if you want to provide winter birds with a warm place to sleep, then you can rehang the house after it’s been cleaned properly.
  • Of course, you also need to be very careful of when you clean out a birdhouse, whether you’ve decided to learn one out year-round, or to only hang one up for the nesting season. Disturbing an occupied birdhouse can scare your tenants and cause them to not return. This can be very dangerous if it’s during nesting season because the parents may become alarmed and abandon their young. To learn more about nesting schedules and the right time to clean out a birdhouse to prepare for the upcoming season, read my article on when do birds nest in birdhouses.

Final Thoughts

The best birdhouses will have a proper ventilation and drainage system, should have a height and entryway size that’s perfect for the type of species you want to attract, and should be placed in a location that makes the inhabitants feel comfortable and secure. Do your research on your local bird population, find out which type of species you want staying with you this nesting season, and choose a house that will best suit their needs. This buyer’s guide and the product recommendations are designed to help you find the right model for the upcoming nesting season, so you’ll have everything prepared and ready to go for your new backyard neighbors.