Autumn is the perfect time to hang up nest boxes. They provide much needed roosting sites for birds and bats in the winter and increase the chances of birds returning to nest in the spring. You can purchase a nest box or plan a fun family project and build your own! The first thing you must decide is what species you would like to attract to your property. Cavity nesting critters come in all shapes and sizes, and nest boxes do too. The nest box for a house wren is about 10 inches tall, for example, while a barred owl nest box may be a couple of feet! Once you determine the species you’d like to attract, do some research to find the dimensions needed for your nest box and how big the entrance hole must be. Next you need to buy the materials: you’ll want the wood to be at least ¾ inch thick and untreated is best, because the chemicals in treated wood are harmful to wildlife. Finally, you must decide where to hang your new nest boxes. Find out what habitat the critter prefers and put the nest box there. Make sure there is a clear flight path to the entrance and that it faces between the north and the east. That way it will catch morning sunshine but avoid the heat of the midday sun, as well as the harshest winds. The height at which you should place your nest boxes depends on your desired species as well. A barred owl nesting box, for example, should be placed about 20 to 30 feet high in a mature hardwood, preferably within 200 feet of water. A wren box, in contrast, can be placed under the canopy of a small tree, preferably 6 feet or higher to deter predators such as domestic cats.

There are never enough holes or cavities for wildlife to take shelter so if you want to build a nest box on your own or with family, or if you happen to have one or two laying around in the shed, now is the perfect time to put one up.

Fun tip: It is a good idea to clean out your nest boxes with hot water and a wildlife-safe cleaner at the end of each breeding season. It lends a helping hand to the next residents of your nest box and helps prevent the spread of parasites and diseases!

Links to plans for DIY houses:

Links to premade houses:

Nature’s Way Bluebird House:

Nature’s Way Wren House:

S&K 12 Room Purple Martin House with Pole:

More tips and resources: