Mar 27, 2019 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, April 2019

Which Birds Use Nest Boxes?

Bluebirds number among the species that readily take to human-provided nest boxes.
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Don't expect a jay or hummingbird to use a birdhouse you provide. Only "cavity nesters"—bird species that naturally nest in hollow trees or similar secluded shelters—will select a human-provided nest box. And not all cavity nesters readily adopt boxes. Here's a list of some of the birds that commonly use "bird houses":

  • Some ducks, including wood duck
  • Some owls, including barred and screech-owls
  • Some woodpeckers, including downy and northern flicker
  • American kestrel
  • Some flycatchers, including great crested and ash-throated
  • Some swallows, including tree, violet-green, barn, and purple martin
  • Titmice
  • Chickadees
  • Nuthatches
  • Some wren species
  • Bluebirds
  • Phoebes, including eastern and Say's
  • Prothonotary and Lucy's warblers


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  • Love listeningto both songs and calls from birds in our woody neighborhood. The two types of birds I immediately recognize are the cardinals and the chickadees. Yesterday afternoon too, I heard a woodpecker. Then it’s time to check the birdfeeders and the birdbath. Then In no time at all the cardinals and chickadees arrive, as if they had been watching me. As it gets busier around the feeders, I also hear thé screeching of the blue jays. I even saw a couple of robins checking out our lawn....spring has arrived as the last pat gesofisticeerde snow and ice melt away.
    by louisabt, Sun, 08 Mar 2020
  • I am wondering about existing nests for Phoebes. I have two outdoor aisle entries to my barn and there are old Phoebe nests up. They ignore them each year and build new nests adjacent to the old, but space is running out. Should I knock down the old nests so they can rebuild?
    by [email protected], Sun, 02 Feb 2020
  • Just wondering, should we put anything in the bottom of the box...twigs, clippings, leaves....anything at all?
    by Hebb, Tue, 28 Jan 2020
  • New to birding...newbie question. We spotted what we thought was a Sapsucker at our patio feeders in December. The folks at our birding supply store told us that Sapsuckers are only here in Summer months and what we saw was a Flicker. I thought I new what a Flicker was and this did not look like a Flicker. It was thinner and more smooth looking but did have the Woodpecker Bill.
    by Edmund Steinman, Wed, 08 Jan 2020
  • We just signed up and get your magazine via email. Will we be receiving a printed copy?Ed [email protected]
    by Edmund Steinman, Wed, 08 Jan 2020