Nesting boxes invite birds to hatch babies in home gardens

It would be nice to say, “Hang a birdhouse and they will come,” but attracting wild birds to nest in your yard isn’t quite so easy.

Don’t get discouraged if your nesting box doesn’t draw birds the first year, said Dana Sanchez, wildlife specialist for Oregon State University Extension Service. Move it to a new spot and put up more than one to give birds a choice.

It’s most important to get the size of the entrance hole correct, she added.

“The entrance diameter is really crucial so that target species can get in, but also to diminish the opportunity for birds to be attacked by predators and competitors,” Sanchez said. “Non-native birds such as house sparrows and starlings are notorious for taking up residence in nest boxes intended for native birds. And some native birds will bully out other native birds.”

Home check

Don’t hang it and forget it. Check the box regularly to see if birds are being stalked by predators. If so, you can add a block of wood with the same size hole at the entrance to create a tunnel that makes it difficult for other birds, squirrels, rats and cats to reach the babies. Other discouragements include a metal collar around the tree or post where the box is affixed or any number of baffles that you can buy or build. As always, the advice for cats is to keep them inside.

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