Basic Birdhouse
Maintenance and Safety

Time out for some basic maintenance.

Now that you have everything correct for your bird house, take a look at how to make it safe.

Does your nest box have proper ventilation, drainage, and susceptibility to predators.


Without air vents, boxes can turn into bird ovens. There are two ways to provide ventilation:

leave gaps between the roof and sides of the box, or drill 1/4" holes just below the roof.


Maintenance also deals with water. Water becomes a problem when it sits in the bottom of a bird house.

Eggs will rot if they sit in water and babies can freeze or drown.

A roof with sufficient slope and overhang offers some protection. Drilling the entrance hole on an upward slant may also help keep the water out.

Face your nest boxes away from the prevailing winds. For me I try to face my houses East to southeast.

Regardless of design, driving rain will get in through the entrance hole.

You can assure proper drainage by cutting away the corners of the box floor and by drilling 1/4 inch holes in the box floor.

Nest boxes will last longer if the floors are recessed about 1/4 inch.

Entrance Hole:

Bluebird house

Look for maintenance of the entrance hole (and exit) on the front panel near the top. A rough surface both inside and out makes it easier for the adults to get into the box and, when it's time, for the nestlings to climb out.

If your box is made of finished wood, add a couple of grooves outside below the hole. Open the front panel and add grooves, cleats, or wire mesh to the inside.

Additional work may be needed if squirrels or other birds start work on the hole. Look for special metal plates designed to go around such holes.

They are designed and made just to deter others from damaging the entrance hole.

If you have the ways and means, making your own hole plates or guards becomes simple protection for all your nest boxes.


Never put up a bird house with a perch below the entrance hole. Perches offer starlings, house sparrows, and other predators a convenient place to wait for lunch.

If you find that house you just have to get and it has a perch, perform some simple surgery by cutting the perch off.

Don't be tempted by those beautiful duplexes or houses that have more than one entrance hole. With the exception of purple martins, cavity-nesting birds prefer not to share a house.

While these condos look great in your yard, starlings and house sparrows are the only birds inclined to use them.

Simple Maintenance:

Basic maintenance is making your bird houses easily accessible so you can see how your birds are doing and, when the time comes, clean out the house.

Part of being a responsible bird house landlord is maintenance and your willingness to watch
out for your tenants.

Monitor your bird houses every week and evict unwanted creatures: house sparrows, starlings, rodents, snakes, and insects.

Be careful when you inspect your bird boxes. You may find something other than a bird inside. Don't be surprised to see squirrels, a mouse, a snake, or insects. Look for fleas, flies, mites, larvae, and lice in the bottom of the box.

If you find insects and parasites, your first reaction may be grab the nearest can of insect spray.

If you do, use only insecticides known to be safe around birds: 1% rotenone powder or pyrethrin spray.

If wasps are a problem, some simple maintenance and action on your part is all
you need.

You can coat the inside top of the box with bar soap like Ivory, however soap flakes may get eaten by baby birds.

I like to spray cider vinegar, or mint oil mixed with rubbing alcohol on inside and outside of my nest boxes. Both are non-toxic food items and wont harm birds.

When using Mint oil, purchase pure oil from a health food type store, or one that sells essential oils, not the mint from the baking section from your grocery store.

In a spray bottle, mix 25% mint oil to 75% rubbing alcohol. Shake before using. Spray liberally on and inside the nest box.

(Be careful not to breathe concentrated oil fumes.)

Birds have a poor sense of smell, but insects hunt by smell and stay away.

Plus, if mint or vinegar gets on the bugs.................... they are goners.

I use it and it works.

When your cleaning out your nest boxes, do some simple maintenance by checking for lose screws and nails.

Some simple up keep now will help to keep your bird houses going for years to come.

Bird Houses

Maintenance is Needed for all Your nest Box Materials

Where to Place Your Nest Boxes


What Birds will Use My Nest Boxes

Monitoring Nest Boxes

Native Trees Offer Food and Protection

Shrubs for Food and Protection

Offer Food so Your Birds will Stay Around

Choosing the Right Feeders

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