Aug 09, 2023
The 8 Best Birdhouses of 2023
Provide a safe sanctuary in your yard for nesting birds. Jump to a Section We
Provide a safe sanctuary in your yard for nesting birds.
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Better Homes & Gardens / David Hattan
There's nothing quite like enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or sipping an evening glass of wine and listening to birds fill your yard with a symphony of songs. While you may have a few bird feeders or bird baths to attract the singers to your yard, another way to draw birds is by having a birdhouse.
"A birdhouse is really a replacement for a habitat element that birds would find in nature—a hole in a dead tree," says Robyn Bailey, NestWatch project leader for Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "Since dead trees are commonly removed from landscapes where people live and recreate, they can be lacking, and a birdhouse is often a good way to attract some species that might not otherwise find a place to nest."
Chad Witko, senior coordinator of avian biology at the National Audubon Society, also shares the bird population has been declining for years. "Recent studies have shown that North America has lost nearly 3 billion birds since 1970," Witko shares. "Birdhouses are one way to help protect them and the places they need."
It may seem that all birdhouses are more or less the same, but there are a few important factors to consider when purchasing a birdhouse. Birds have many natural predators, including snakes, raccoons, chipmunks, and cats. When purchasing a birdhouse, you’ll want to make sure the birdhouse will offer birds a safe space from these predators.
"Ideally, nest boxes should be mounted to poles equipped with a predator guard for the best chance of evading predators," Bailey says. "Nest boxes mounted on trees are more likely to become occupied by mice, which means that birds aren't able to use them."
You’ll also want to ensure your birdhouse doesn't have a perch—even though many birdhouses come equipped with perches, they can actually be detrimental to birds. "It's important to note that perches are never necessary on birdhouses," Witko says. "[They] can actually cause more harm than good by allowing predators access to the box."
Additionally, the best birdhouses are designed in a way to keep the nesting bird safe and dry. In particular, you’ll want to look for birdhouses that have a sloped roof. "This helps keep out heavy rain and discourages predators from accessing the box," Witko explains.
It's also important to have proper ventilation for air flow in the birdhouses so moisture doesn't get trapped and create an unsafe environment for the nesting birds.
This cedar birdhouse has a sloped roof and an elevated mesh floor.
It's only available in one color/finish.
Not only is this birdhouse made with cedar, which is beneficial since it is durable and resembles a tree cavity, it also has a few other details that are important to look for in a birdhouse. We love that this birdhouse can be mounted to a pole to help keep the nesting birds safe from predators, and it also doesn't have a perch.
Additionally, it has a sloped roof and an elevated mesh floor to help keep birds dry. To help increase airflow, this birdhouse is also equipped with essential air vents. There are also kerfs, which are indents in the wood, for fledglings to grip onto as they learn to emerge from the birdhouse.
Cleaning this birdhouse is easy—simply lift the front wooden panel to access the inside of the birdhouse. While this birdhouse will mainly attract bluebirds with its 1.5-inch entry hole, other birds, such as wrens, tree swallows, and chickadees, will be interested in nesting in this house, too.
Because it's made with cedar, it's only available in one finish. If you want to add more color to your landscape, consider planting some colorful native plants around your birdhouse.
Price at time of publish: $28
Product Details: Material: Cedar | Entry Hole Size: 1.5 inches
It's a simple cedar birdhouse that has proper ventilation and is easy to clean.
With a 1.125-inch entry hole, it's intended for smaller birds only.
While this pick isn't as aesthetically pleasing as our best overall birdhouse, it still provides a safe nesting option for birds at an affordable price.
This cedar birdhouse is both insect and rot resistant, and it has a sloped roof to drain water away from the house. There are also vents in both the front and back of this birdhouse to provide proper ventilation for the nesting birds.
With a 1.125-inch opening, you’ll attract birds like wrens and chickadees and prevent larger birds, like sparrows, from nesting. Similarly to our best overall birdhouse, this house has a front panel that lifts away for easy cleaning. It also doesn't have a perch, making it a safe choice for nesting birds.
This birdhouse isn't quite as pretty as some of our other picks, but it has everything a nesting bird needs at a wallet-friendly price.
Price at time of publish: $11
Product Details: Material: Cedar | Entry Hole Size: 1.125 inches
This cedar birdhouse comes with a 4.0-megapixel camera that is equipped with a microphone and night vision.
There is a solar-powered option, but it's more expensive.
If you’re passionate about birds, then the Nestera Smart Birdhouse with Camera is the best birdhouse for you. This cedar birdhouse has everything a nesting bird needs—plus, it has a camera so you can watch the birds from your phone.
This durable and weatherproof birdhouse has a sloped roof, is perch free, and has a 1.25-inch entry hole—but the star of this birdhouse is the camera. Using the accompanying app, you can connect the camera to WiFi and have access to watch your birdhouse at all times.
The app also allows you to record moments and share them with your fellow bird-loving friends and family. The 4.0-megapixel camera has a motion sensor, night vision, and a built-in microphone to help you view and listen to your winged neighbors. You can even set the app to alert you when there is motion in the birdhouse.
This type of birdhouse will attract birds such as wrens, bluebirds, chickadees, tree swallows, warblers, nuthatches, and more. In addition to the camera, the birdhouse has translucent windows on the sides so you can peek in and see your nesting birds.
The camera comes with a 32-foot power cord, so you don't have to mount the birdhouse exactly in front of an outlet. There is also a solar-powered option if you want to put this birdhouse even further away from a power source, but it is more expensive. This would also make a perfect Mother's or Father's Day gift for a bird-loving parent.
Price at time of publish: $199
Product Details: Material: Western red cedar | Entry Hole Size: 1.25 inches
It's available in green, blue, or cardinal red, and has a 3-inch hole for screech owls.
Screech owl houses should be placed close to a wooded area, like a woodland clearing or the edge of a forest.
For those wanting to provide a nesting option for screech owls, the JCs Wildlife Screech Owl Cedar Nesting Box is the best birdhouse for you. Made with 0.875-inch thick cedar wood, this birdhouse is durable to create a safe environment for screech owls. There is a 3-inch hole for the owls to enter their home, making this the birdhouse with the largest entry hole on our list.
The sloped roof provides a slight overhang that helps keep owls dry from the rain, and there are air holes for proper air flow. The birdhouse is perch free, but it does have three slats on the front for screech owls to grip onto. There is also an internal slat to help the owl leave the house or sit upon it for viewing.
For easy cleaning, the front panel swings open so you can access the inside of the birdhouse. This birdhouse comes with a bag of pine shavings to add to the bottom of the house to help make a comfortable nest for your owl. We also love that there are three different color options: green, blue, and cardinal red.
Screech owl boxes are a bit different from other birdhouses—these can be mounted on trees. "Screech-owl nest boxes should be placed 10 to 30 feet off the ground, on a tree wider than the box, preferably under a tree limb with nearby branches to allow perching for both adult and fledgling owls," Witko explains. "Some experts suggest facing the box east or south to allow roosting owls to sun during cold days."
Price at time of publish: $75
Product Details: Material: Cedar | Entry Hole Size: 3 inches
There are 12 rooms to comfortably house purple martins.
Because of its size, it will require more time and energy to clean seasonally.
Purple martins have different nesting habits than most other birds, so they require a different style of birdhouse. While many other birds prefer to nest alone, purple martins are the exception. "The vast majority will not share [birdhouses] because most birds are territorial, but some species, like purple martins, do nest in colonies," Bailey says.
Because these birds will nest together, they will be attracted to birdhouses with multiple rooms, like the BestNest Heath Cedar Round Entry Purple Martin House. Made with cedar, this birdhouse has 12 different rooms with 2.125-inch entry holes. Each room measures 5 x 5.25 x 4 inches, so it offers a comfortable space for nesting.
There are also dividers in between the holes, which helps prevent issues with male dominance among your winged residents. As with most of the birdhouses on our list, this one has proper ventilation and a sloped roof. Keep in mind that because of its larger size, this birdhouse will be more time consuming to clean than other birdhouses on our list.
This is intended to be mounted on top of a wooden post or pole, so be sure you have the proper materials before purchasing. For purple martins, Bailey recommends placing these birdhouses in an open field, at least 40 feet from trees or buildings so the birds have plenty of space for forating insects. If you have the space, consider adding some seedy plants to your landscape.
Price at time of publish: $318
Product Details: Material: Cedar | Entry Hole Size: 2.125 inches
A plastic-coated cable is included with the wooden birdhouse.
It's made with natural wood, so each birdhouse may vary slightly in its appearance.
The BestNest Classic Hanging Wren House is the best birdhouse if you prefer to hang your birdhouse from a hook or a pole. This wooden birdhouse comes with a plastic-coated cable, so you can easily hang it in your yard.
This is a perfect birdhouse for wrens and chickadees, since the hole size is 1.25 inches. The size of the opening also prevents larger birds from entering, so your wrens will be safe. The best birdhouses have sloped roofs and gaps for ventilation, and this birdhouse has both. Predators won't have anything to grab onto with this birdhouse since it's perch free.
We appreciate that the bottom section of the birdhouse can be removed for easy seasonal cleaning. We also love that this option is a lighter color than others on our list, which helps to keep birds cooler when the sun is shining. Keep in mind that because this birdhouse is made with natural wood, each house may vary slightly from another.
Price at time of publish: $22
Product Details: Material: Wood | Entry Hole Size: 1.25 inches
It has a 1.5-inch entry hole, which is perfect for Carolina wrens.
The size and shape of the gourd will vary.
Bailey explains that certain birds, like wrens, tree swallows, and great crested flycatchers, will nest in gourds. "If hung securely, these can be a safe option for nesting birds," Bailey says.
The Gourdaments Gourd Birdhouse is a natural, handmade birdhouse that features a leather strap for hanging. The gourds themselves are grown on a farm in Pennsylvania.
With a hole diameter of 1.5 inches, the birdhouse will attract bluebirds and Carolina wrens. The roof is naturally sloped due to the shape of the gourd, and there isn't a perch so birds can stay safe from predators.
The gourd is finished with an outdoor varnish to protect it from the elements and help it last for multiple seasons. Each gourd will vary slightly in size and shape, but expect your gourd to be about 9 to 10 inches tall.
Price at time of publish: $27
Product Details: Material: Gourd | Entry Hole Size: 1.5 inches
In addition to a viewing window, this birdhouse also has a predator guard and an elevated mesh floor.
You should only use the viewing window sparingly to avoid disturbing the birds.
The Nature's Way Bird Products CWH4 Cedar Bluebird Viewing House is the best birdhouse with a viewing window, so you can see your birds nesting—and maybe even see some eggs hatch.
This birdhouse is made from wood and has a side door that lifts up so you can see inside. Once you lift the side door, there is a piece of crack-resistant clear plastic in place that prevents any physical disturbance for the birds.
With an elevated mesh floor, a sloped roof, ventilation holes, and a predator guard, this birdhouse has everything needed to provide a safe nesting environment for birds.
If you opt for this type of birdhouse, it's best to use the viewing window sparingly. "It is okay to take a quick peek now and then, but avoid prolonged viewing sessions to avoid disturbing the birds too much," Bailey says.
There are birdhouses that have viewing windows that you can suction to the window of your house, but Bailey doesn't recommend these.
"I would not personally use a birdhouse that suctions onto a window because it could fall to the ground with eggs or young in it," Bailey says. "Birdhouses can have a viewing window (usually made of plexiglass), provided they are mounted securely."
Price at time of publish: $23
Product Details: Material: Cedar | Entry Hole Size: 1.5 inches
Overall, we chose the Nature's Way CWH3 Cedar Bluebird Box House as the best birdhouse. It has a sloped roof, an elevated mesh floor, ventilation gaps, and a door for easy cleaning. It also has fledgling kerfs, and it's available at a relatively affordable price.
"The best birdhouse wood is natural, untreated, and unpainted," Witko says. "Cedar, pine, or cypress are all excellent choices. These materials are durable and insulating, and they’re good substitutes for tree cavities."
Bailey also shares that it's important to make sure the materials are held together with galvanized screws, rather than nails or staples. Over time, nails or staples may loosen, but screws are more likely to stay in place. Loose nails could allow rain to seep into the birdhouse and create an unhealthy environment for your nesting birds.
Before purchasing a birdhouse, determine what kinds of birds are in your area and what you want to attract. The size of the entry hole on your birdhouse will determine which birds can (and cannot) nest in the house.
The smallest entry hole available is 1.125 inches, which is suitable for smaller birds such as house wrens and chickadees. Warblers and nuthatches will appreciate a 1.25-inch hole, while a 1.5-inch hole is best for bluebirds and Carolina wrens.
Larger birds, such as screech owls and American kestrels, will best fit in a birdhouse with a 3-inch hole, like the JCs Wildlife Screech Owl Cedar Nesting Box.
Birdhouses are relatively affordable, and several options on our list are less than $30. Both the Nature's Way CWH3 Cedar Bluebird Box House and Wild Wings 8-inch Cedar Wood Wren Nesting Box Bird House are budget-friendly options.
However, you can also find options that are a couple hundred dollars, such as the Nestera Smart Birdhouse with Camera, which comes with more features than the standard birdhouse.
With the exception of purple martins, many birds are territorial, so it's best to get a birdhouse with one hole or room.
"Only one nest is accommodated per birdhouse, but it can contain as many young as there are eggs plus one or both adults," Bailey says. "They are designed for short-term use, as birds don't really live in their nests year-round."
While there can only be one nest in a birdhouse, you can still create an avian paradise in your backyard by adding birdbaths and bird feeders—just be sure to clean them regularly.
"Growing native plants will also attract birds while making your space beautiful, easy to care for, and better for the environment," Witko says.
Bailey says to avoid mounting birdhouses to trees—this may make birds or their eggs more accessible to predators. Instead, mount or hang birdhouses on a wooden pole.
"It's not possible to prevent all predators from reaching the nests within a birdhouse, but you will give them the best chance by mounting boxes on a free-standing pole equipped with a predator guard," Bailey explains. This will help reduce the amount of attacks from natural predators.
"It's also possible to mount the box high on an exterior wall of your home, where a climbing predator will be much less likely to encounter it," Bailey says. "For example, mounted on a second story exterior wall or on a balcony wall."
In addition to protecting birds from predators, it's also important to reduce other threats to birds when hanging a birdhouse. "To truly protect the population of birds, we must also work to ensure their safety in our landscapes and be good neighbors to birds," Bailey explains. "That means reducing threats like pesticides, feral cats, and window collisions as much as we can."
Brandi Fuller has been an Associate Commerce Editor for Better Homes & Gardens since September 2022, and she has also written for publications such as Southern Living and Real Simple. She has written about home and outdoor products including sheets, sewing machines, laundry stain removers, hummingbird feeders, and more. For this article, she consulted expert Robyn Bailey, NestWatch project leader for Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Chad Witko, senior coordinator of avian biology at the National Audubon Society. After interviewing Bailey and Witko and gathering information, she researched various products to find the best birdhouses based on the information provided. Each birdhouse was selected with the safety and wellbeing of nesting birds in mind.Price at time of publish: $28 Product Details: Material: Entry Hole Size: Price at time of publish: $11 Product Details: Material: Entry Hole Size: Price at time of publish: $199 Product Details: Material: Entry Hole Size: Price at time of publish: $75 Product Details: Material: Entry Hole Size: Price at time of publish: $318 Product Details: Material: Entry Hole Size: Price at time of publish: $22 Product Details: Material: Entry Hole Size: Price at time of publish: $27 Product Details: Material: Entry Hole Size: Price at time of publish: $23 Product Details: Material: Entry Hole Size: ,