Bird Watcher's General Store

“A Cape Cod Destination Icon For 40 Years”

When to Put Up Birdhouses

Dear Bird Folks,

I received some birdhouses for Christmas and I can’t wait to put them up. When should I put them out?

– Marianne, Dennis


Hi Marianne,

What do you mean you can’t “wait to put them up?” It sounds to me like you are waiting. Put them up now. What are you waiting for, the price of rental property to go up even higher? There is no wrong time to put out birdhouses. We are not talking about tomato plants here. Birdhouses can be put out any time of year, but now is probably the best time.

Birds that use nest boxes are some of our earliest nesters, because they don’t need to wait for the new spring foliage for protection, unlike birds that build nests on branches of trees. Also, many of the cavity nesters (birds that use birdhouses, not birds with poor dental hygiene) are here year-round. Chickadees, nuthatches, titimice, etc. are not big time migrants so they are here, ready to go, and don’t need to fly up from way down south. If you have nest boxes out in your yard from last year, you should take a few minutes to open each and clean it out. You’d be surprised what will move into a nest box over the winter. I’ve found mice living in them, sometimes wasps and bees, often piles of acorns that some mammal had stashed for the winter, and once I found a family of pygmy marmosets on vacation from Ecuador.

So stop working on your taxes and get your nest boxes out. Just remember to keep the rent affordable or you’ll end up with snobby, upscale birds that will want to put on an 18-room addition and turn your simple nest box into a trophy birdhouse. Then you know it’s only a matter of time before they will post no trespassing signs to keep you out of your own yard.