How to Help Make a Bird’s Nest

Birds build nests to lay their eggs and raise their young. As amazing as birds are at nest building, they sometimes need a little help from humans. Helping birds make a nest allows them to have a safe place to breed and can support local bird populations. Here is an extensive guide on how you can help birds build their nests.

Choosing a Good Nesting Spot

One of the best ways to help birds make a nest is to provide them with ideal nesting locations. Consider the following factors when selecting a nesting area:


Look for sites that are sheltered from wind, rain, and direct sunlight. Birds often nest in trees, shrubs, ledges, or cavities that provide protection. Ideal spots are out of reach from predators.

Nesting Materials

Make sure there are plenty of natural materials nearby that birds can use to build their nests. Good options include twigs, grass, moss, feathers, fur, and rootlets. Birds will collect these items to weave sturdy nests.

Food and Water

Nesting sites should be close to sources of food and water. This allows parent birds to easily collect food for their hatchlings and themselves. Birdbaths, feeders, fruiting trees, and berry bushes are excellent to have nearby.

When choosing a nesting area, observe where birds already nest in your neighborhood. Mimicking those natural habitats will increase the chance of nest use. For example, robins often nest in sheltered nooks of trees.

Providing Nesting Platforms

Giving birds a foundation to start their nests on can save them time and energy. Simple nesting platforms provide the base structure that birds can then add materials to. Here are some easy platforms you can make or install:

Wooden Boxes

Basic wooden boxes act as artificial cavities for nest building. Use untreated wood and make sure the opening is the appropriate size for desired bird species. Mount the boxes safely to trees, posts, or buildings.


Small wire hanging baskets work well for smaller bird species. Make sure the weave is tight enough so eggs cannot fall through. Sturdy plastic mesh baskets can also be used.


Plain wooden planks can be affixed to walls or placed across corners to form sheltered nesting spaces. Robin or wren nests are often found built upon simple boards.

Pots and Pans

Clay or metal pots and pans can be wired to branches or railings for quick nest platforms. Make sure they are secure and will not tip.


Birds like barn swallows frequently nest on shelves or racks. A basic wooden rack under an overhang creates perfect nesting real estate.

Hanging Pre-Made Nests

Another way to give birds a boost is hanging pre-made nesting pouches or bags. There are many creative options available or you can make them yourself.

Coconut Baskets

Natural coconut bowls with fiber make excellent pre-made nests. Just make sure to hang them securely from a tree or porch.

Twig Baskets

Many companies sell hand-woven twig nests. Birds will line them with softer materials to make them their own.

Felt Pouches

Nest pouches sewn from compact felt provide durable pre-made nesting spots for birds. They easily attach to branches.

Wire Baskets

Tiny wire baskets lined with soft grasses or cloth create cozy starting points for nests. Hanging them from shepherd hooks works well.

Wooden Bowls

Simple small wooden bowls, lined with moss or grass, can be mounted to trees or posts for birds to build upon.

Supplying Nesting Materials

Along with nesting platforms, providing additional building supplies helps birds construct secure nests. Here are some materials you can set out:

Pet Fur

Collect fur from pets you brush and place it near nesting sites. Birds will gladly line their nests with soft fur.

Dry Grass

Gather dead stems, grasses, or straw. Bundle them together and loosely hang near nests so birds can easily take pieces.


Moss makes soft, insulating nesting material. Collect small portions of moss and set it out for birds to collect.


Pull apart recycled cotton yarn or fabric into fluffy fibers. Lightly stuff into suet cages near nests for birds to grab.


Shed feathers from backyard poultry make ideal lining. Set feathers in a mesh bag or stuff into a pierced suet cage for birds to access.

Check nesting material supplies daily and refresh as needed. Providing a steady abundance gives birds what they need.

Installing Nesting Shelves

Flat wooden shelves installed on buildings, walls, or trees create instant nesting sites many birds appreciate. Here are some tips:

  • Use weather-resistant wood at least 1 inch thick so perches are sturdy.
  • The ideal shelf is 4-6 inches deep and 3 feet wide. This gives ample room for nests.
  • Add small wooden dowels across the front for birds to perch and guard their nests.
  • Mount shelves under overhangs or porches for protection. North or east-facing walls are ideal.
  • Place shelves 10-15 feet high for safety from predators.
  • Space multiple shelves 6-10 feet apart to reduce competition.

Keep shelves well maintained and clean out old nests after the breeding season ends. The shelves will then be ready for the next year.

Installing Nesting Roofs

Small wooden overhangs or roofs installed above sheltered spots create perfect protected nesting locations that many birds naturally seek.

Wooden Shingles

Cut weatherproof wooden shingles into upside down V or sloped roof shapes. Affix over sheltered wall spots or between beams.

Titled Platforms

Build small titled platforms from wood to act as angled roofs. Position above partially enclosed areas birds frequent.


Build or purchase small pre-made overhangs. Mount them above suitable nesting spots to instantly create sheltered sites.

Extending Roofs

Use additional roofing panels or boards to extend patio, porch, or shed roofs out. This instantly creates sheltered nesting spots birds will use.

Position roofs or overhangs where drifting rain or leaves will not accumulate. Annual cleaning may be needed.

Pruning Trees and Shrubs

Trimming back trees and shrubs encourages new growth that creates ideal nesting habitat. Here’s how:

Clear Undergrowth

Prune away lower branches and undergrowth to open up dense shrubs. This allows birds to fly in and build nests.

Create Cavities

Carefully prune or carve out small cavities in tree trunks or branches. Just large enough for nests. Many birds appreciate cavity nesting spots.

Maintain Health

Properly thinning trees and shrubs encourages dense foliage growth. This provides protective cover for nest building and rearing young.

Add Crossbeams

Nail protected wooden beams between trees or posts. Birds often nest on flat platforms like these in the open.

Be sure to follow proper pruning practices and not overtrim. Time pruning outside of primary nesting seasons.

Offering Nesting Structures

There are many creative pre-made nesting structures you can install to attract breeding birds.


Carefully designed birdhouses mimic natural cavities birds seek out. Mount them properly for desired species.

Nesting Trays

Plastic trays lined with grass or cloth can be nailed to trees or under porches for quick nest spots.

Nesting Shelves

Pre-made nesting shelves are available. Mount them in sheltered spots with overhangs to provide nest platforms.

Nesting Boxes

Buy or build specially designed nest boxes for birds like swallows, flycatchers, or wrens. Place boxes in ideal areas.

Nesting Bags

Mesh or cloth bags stuffed with nesting materials are readily used by many birds. Hang them from secure branches.

Always carefully follow the installation instructions that come with any pre-made nesting structures. Proper placement is key.

Maintaining Nesting Areas

Once you have provided suitable nesting spots for birds, be sure to properly maintain them:

  • Keep areas free of overgrown vegetation that could provide access to predators.
  • Eliminate dense spider webs, wasp nests, or parasites.
  • Clean out old nesting material annually after breeding season ends.
  • Make sure drain holes on platforms or boxes do not clog.
  • Refresh water sources regularly.
  • Re-coat wooden structures annually to prevent deterioration.
  • Ensure ropes, wires, and mounts remain securely fastened.

Don’t disturb active nests. Wait to clean them out until birds have finished nesting for the season.

Attracting Nesting Birds

To increase usage of nesting areas:

Use Bird Calls

Playing recordings of bird songs related to breeding and nesting helps attract them to suitable spots.

Offer Food and Water

Well-stocked feeders, berry bushes, fruit trees, and clean water will draw in more nesting birds to take advantage of the resources.

Add Perches

Birds like having elevated perches and posts nearby to land on and scan for danger before going to their nest.

Limit Noise

Excess noise will deter birds from nesting. Avoid pruning, construction, loud machines, or other disruptions during nesting months.

Stop Pesticide Use

Chemical pesticides can interfere with breeding and the food chain. Stop using them or switch to organic alternatives.

With a healthy environment and proper nesting locations provided, birds will build their nests successfully! Monitor nesting activity but try not to disturb nests once eggs are laid. Enjoy watching the nesting process unfold!

Frequently Asked Questions About Helping Birds Nest

Many people have additional questions when it comes to supporting nesting birds. Here are helpful answers to some frequently asked questions:

When do most birds build nests?

Peak nesting season is spring to early summer but it varies by region and species. Most birds breed between March and August but some may nest as late as October.

How can I attract specific bird species to nest?

Research the ideal nesting habitat of the desired species. Then try to mimic those natural conditions as closely as possible when providing nesting spots.

Where should I mount birdhouses?

Mount birdhouses on poles or under eaves facing north or east, if possible. Place small houses 8-12 feet high and larger houses 12-15 feet up for safety.

How often should nesting material be replaced?

Check nest-building supplies daily and replace any used portions. Birds carry off materials frequently while constructing nests.

Is it illegal to remove an active nest?

Yes, it is illegal to disturb or destroy a nest that contains eggs or young birds. Let the birds finish nesting before removing the nest.

Can I move an empty birdhouse with no nest?

Yes, it is fine to relocate empty birdhouses whenever needed to try getting birds to use them.

How often should I clean out birdhouses and shelves?

Clean out nesting sites at the end of the breeding season after birds have finished. Then they will be fresh for the next season.

Will birds use the same nest twice?

Most species do not reuse an old nest. Some may repair and refresh an existing nest when returning to the same site.

When do baby birds leave the nest?

Baby songbirds typically leave the nest between 2-4 weeks after hatching. The parents continue caring for them out of the nest.

How can I keep predators away from nests?

Deter predators by mounting nests out of reach, using predator guards, and eliminating access points. Avoid leaving pet food outdoors.

Helping our feathered friends raise their families is very rewarding. Follow these tips to safely lend birds a helping hand when building their nests. With suitable nesting spots provided, you’ll be able to enjoy the delights of nesting birds for many seasons to come.


Providing birds with ideal nesting spots and materials helps strengthen local populations of these majestic creatures. Now that you know how to assist birds in constructing their nests, you can start implementing these tactics to invite nesting birds into your area. With some simple installations like nesting shelves and platforms, along with providing fluffy fibers, you create the perfect habitat for birds to settle in and make their homes. Use your new skills to safely observe the beauty of nests come to life. The construction, egg laying, hatching of chicks, and taking flight from the nest are miracles of nature that you can play a role in. Do your part by lending birds a helping hand and enjoy the rewards of closer connections with wildlife in your own backyard.