October 14, 2023
The House Sparrow house can come in two different types. It can be built for a single pair, or a colony of birds, depending on what the birdwatcher wants.
Whether you're considering buying or building, the information below will help you attract, house, and place your house sparrow nest boxes for the best watching.
House Sparrows are cavity-nesting birds and will make use of man-made birdhouses. Sparrows will nest in a house that provides protection and is roomy enough to raise young.
But we need to provide a properly constructed Sparrow House to give them the best chance at nesting success.
This means knowing the correct height, width, and entry hole size dimensions.
For colonial nesting (colony nesting), we prefer the plan above.
According to a study published in the Journal of Field Ornithology, House Sparrows may nest closer together if they do not see each other.
Most birds are attracted to a natural-looking nest box; wood is the best material type.
If you plan on purchasing or building one, make sure that the wood used in constructing the house is decay-resistant wood.
Types of wood you might select are cedar, redwood, exterior plywood, or even thick recycled plastics.
Avoid purchasing any birdhouse that is painted dark or made of metal as they can get too hot and harm birds.
Fence boards can be used if the house is kept in the shade or only morning sun. The wood of fence boards is a little thin for full sun protection.
Copper arsenate has been fazed out and is only used in marine applications, so treated wood is okay to use. Check with the lumber provider to be sure.
Sparrows will use a house that has a small entrance hole. The dimension of the entry hole should be 1 1/4 to 1 3/8 inches.
Any larger will allow other species access, but that's up to you what you want. Keep in mind, too large and they may not use it.
The floor space should be 4 to 5 inches square and at least 6 inches below the entry hole. Measured from the center of the opening.
Do not add or buy any birdhouse with a perch. The birds don't need it, whereas larger birds and other predators will have easy access if perches are used.
The roof should be slanted to shed water and keep the contents of the nest dry.
Each side should provide ventilation. Drill 1/4-inch holes on the sides of the house just under the roof.
Also, make sure there is adequate drainage in the bottom of the nesting box by drilling a 1/4-inch hole in each corner of the bottom of the House Sparrow house.
The side wall or the front of the house should slide or swing open for easy cleaning.
The plan below is a common example of a basic birdhouse. By enlarging the entrance hole to 1 1/4 or 1 3/8 inches, you can adapt the plan for Sparrows.
There is a misprint on the plan. It calls for a 1 by 6 by 4 inches when it should state a 1 by 6 by 4 feet, not 4 inches.
A 1-inch by 6-inch by 8-foot common board will give you enough lumber for 2 House Sparrow houses.
In case you didn't know, the actual size of the board is 3/4-inch by 5 1/2-inch by 8 feet.
I've had House Sparrows nest as low as 4 1/2 feet and up to 15 feet. I do believe they prefer higher to lower.
For those of you who are seeing a decline in these birds in your country, go for 12 to 15 feet.
Mount or place nest boxes under the eaves of your home, barn, or garage with a clear flyway to a tree or shrub for the bird's safety.
Sparrows like to add white feathers to their nest. You can purchase some at craft places and lay a few on the ground near the house to encourage nesting.
According to The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Sparrow Houses should be faced away from prevailing winds, which for most is east, north, south, and then west would follow.
Keep in mind, birds will not read this, nor have I ever seen one with a compass. They may choose North first.
If the site you have is protected from strong sunlight and blowing rain, it's worth giving it a try.
A thorough cleaning at the end of the season or a late winter cleaning is a good idea. This cleaning will get rid of any overwintering ectoparasites.
A quick check after the young fledge is all it takes to see if this is required.
Read About the Habits of the House Sparrow, How Many Eggs Laid, Nesting, and More!
It's important to offer housing that can be cleaned. Mites and parasites can overwinter in birdhouses and harm or even kill the nestlings.
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