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When to Set Up Nest Boxes for Garden Birds

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Nesting boxes are beneficial to birds and bird-loving gardeners alike. They offer the gardener the chance to observe birds raising their young, while they provide a safe space for these feathered friends. To better your chances of drawing nesting birds to the box, be sure to set it up on time. 


It's best to place nesting boxes in position well before birds begin nesting in spring. This will increase the chance of the birds finding and using the boxes. It may also provide them some late-winter protection. In most areas, if you set out nesting boxes before the end of February, they’ll be there in plenty of time for house-hunting birds.

Although setting up nesting boxes well before spring is the best way to ensure occupancy, it is never too late, or really too early, to set up your nesting boxes. Some species may not begin nesting until later in spring or even until summer. Fall-installed nesting boxes may provide refuge from winter weather. 

Nesting boxes can remain in place year after year, but you should clean them out at the beginning of winter and inspect them for damage and hazards at that time, too. For detailed information about choosing and using nesting boxes, we recommend the free All About Birdhouses resources from Cornell Lab of Ornithology.