Last Updated on April 3, 2021


Knowing when do birds nest in birdhouses will be crucial for the birder who wants to attract new nesting birds to their backyard. Houses can provide cavity-nesting birds with the perfect place to build a nest, and a safe spot to nurture fledglings. Additionally, other species can use a birdhouse as protection from the elements during the winter months. However, if you don’t have the house up at the right time, then you can easily miss out on this year’s nesting season, so your birdhouse will be left vacant until the following spring. So, when do birds nest? What month should you dust off or clean out your birdhouses to prepare for the upcoming season? Read on to find out.

Nesting Season

If you’re new to birding, then you’ll need to do your research since different species of birds will nest at different times. Birds are very smart, so they will begin investigating and scouting the area for any potential nesting places in order to claim their territory or plan their courtship as early as January. In some cases, birds will also begin this process in February. Other species will not begin nesting until much later in the season, however, they may still seek out these shelters in order to get away from poor weather, freezing temperatures, or to escape from predators. Species that raise several broods a year will begin nesting earlier, however, if you don’t have a house ready when a bird is ready to lay eggs, they may come back later in the season to lay an additional brood.

Attracting Wildlife

If you want to attract cardinals, wrens, bluebirds, and other species, do your research and find out which type of houses suit each species and use only the best birdhouses. Check out birdhouse reviews to find out which houses earned a high rating from seasoned birders, and learned how to properly hang a birdhouse in order to make it more appealing to scouting birds, early in the season. The Nature’s Way Bird Products Cedar Wren House, is specifically designed with wrens in mind, so it will feature a smaller entryway and a durable design that will keep these birds safe and protected during the nesting season.

Prime Time

In reality, there really is not a bad time to set up a birdhouse. The best time to set one up is as soon as you have them in your possession. Even if it’s not quite nesting season you can still put up your birdhouse in order to give scouting birds the opportunity to check out the house and determine whether or not it will suit their needs for the upcoming nesting season. These houses can also be used during the colder season to provide much-needed shelter and protection for wintering birds during the snow and rainy season. However, it’s important that you clean the house out at the end of winter to ensure it’s clean and ready for the upcoming nesting season. To learn more, click here to read my article on when do you clean out birdhouses.

Species-Specific Nesting Times

If you’re a birder who only wants to provide a birdhouse to a specific species of bird, such as cardinals or purple martins, then you can do a little research and talk to other birders in your area to find out what the average time of year these birds tend to show up. If this is your first year putting out a house, make sure you take note of when nesting birds show up. Since birds tend to nest at the same time every year, this will help you to be better prepared for the next season. In most cases, your best bet will be to have a house out and ready no later than the first week of February, especially if you live in a warmer part of the country.

Attracting Birds to Birdhouses

Regardless of the time of year you put out your birdhouse, there are some things you can do to make them more appealing to new birds looking for a place to nest.

  • Choose a design that’s durable and safe. A birdhouse should protect birds from rain and intense heat, in addition to protection from predators.
  • Make sure that the house’s entryway is the correct size, so it’s large enough for the bird to get in and out, but not so big that a baby bird can fall out or a predator can reach inside.
  • Make sure you choose the correct position for the house so that it’s sheltered from rain and windy conditions, but not located too far from food and water sources.
  • Mount the house correctly so that it doesn’t move or sway when a bird comes and goes. This can discourage some birds from sticking around.

Final Thoughts

So, when do birds nest in birdhouses? This will vary from species to species. In some cases, a bird will begin using the house as early as January or February. An earlier nesting period is more common in warmer parts of the country. Even in cold areas, putting up a birdhouse up as early as January can be beneficial since birds will usually begin scouting potential nesting spots as early as possible.