Top 10 Birdhouse Problems and Solutions

Installing a birdhouse in your backyard is a great way to attract beautiful birds and enjoy nature right outside your door. However, birdhouses can develop issues over time that may prevent birds from using them. Being aware of common birdhouse problems and their solutions will help you keep your birdhouses in prime condition for feathered friends.

Safety and Security Issues

Birdhouses provide safe nesting sites for birds when installed properly. However, problems like instability, predators, and weather exposure can make a birdhouse unsafe. Addressing these issues will make birds feel more secure.

Problem: The Birdhouse Is Unstable

An unstable birdhouse placed in a flimsy location or mounted insecurely can be disastrous for nesting birds. Fierce winds or interfering animals can knock down the entire house, destroying eggs and injuring nestlings.

Solution: Mount the birdhouse on a sturdy pole or bracket anchored securely into the ground or on a robust structure like a thick tree trunk or deck railing. Use weather-resistant materials like thick unfinished wood, tightly twisted wire, or coated metal hangers to prevent rotting or corrosion. Check attachments regularly.

Problem: Predators Can Access The Birdhouse

Clever predators like raccoons, snakes, and cats can invasion a birdhouse and prey on vulnerable eggs and baby birds. Even curious children may unintentionally disturb nests.

Solution: Install predator guards such as metal wraps around the pole below the house or cone-shaped plastic deflectors. Ensure the entry hole is no more than 1 1⁄2 inches across to prevent access by larger animals. Position houses away from low branches or fence tops predators use for access. Place nest boxes high out of the reach of children.

Problem: The Birdhouse Has Poor Weather Protection

Exposure to harsh weather can also put nesting birds in danger. Driving rain, intense sun and extreme temperatures can harm eggs and nestlings.

Solution: Choose a protected location out of prevailing winds and wet conditions. Face the opening away from the direction of heavy rains. Ensure adequate drainage so water does not pool in the house. Apply waterproof sealants to the roof. Add ventilation holes for airflow and install the house in dappled shade to prevent overheating. Attach a guard to shield the entry hole from driving rain.

Cleanliness Issues

Sanitation is crucial for a healthy nesting environment. However, bacteria, parasites and buildup of waste can threaten nesting birds if not addressed.

Problem: Old Nests And Debris Accumulate

Left over nesting materials, feathers, droppings and shells make the interior dirty and unsanitary for new broods each season.

Solution: Clean out birdhouses completely between nesting seasons to allow a fresh start. Use hot water and a mild bleach solution to scrub the interior, rinse thoroughly and let dry entirely before rehanging the house.

Problem: Parasites Live In The Birdhouse

Mites, lice, fleas and other parasitic insects can infest the nest and harm both parents and offspring.

Solution: Apply a light coating of permethrin powder to the interior between seasons to kill parasites hiding in crevices. Allow the treatment to fully dry before use. Take down houses annually for deeper cleaning and treatment.

Problem: Mold Grows Inside

Trapped moisture from rain or bird droppings can lead to the growth of harmful mold spores.

Solution: Ensure appropriate drainage holes in the bottom of the house and ventilation at higher points. Allow houses to fully dry between seasons before storage or rehanging. Apply mildew-resistant sealant to untreated wood houses. Routinely clean and disinfect interiors.

Occupancy Issues

Getting birds to actually use the birdhouse can also be a challenge. Understanding bird behavior helps correct issues that may be discouraging occupancy.

Problem: Birds Won’t Use The House

A vacant birdhouse may simply mean it does not meet the needs or preferences of local species.

Solution: Observe backyard birds and research which types are most common in your area. Tailor the birdhouse to the right dimensions, hole size and placement height to attract the desired species. Avoid decorative elaborations that may intimidate birds. Be patient – it can take weeks or months for birds to find and get accustomed to a new house.

Problem: Birds Begin Nesting Then Abandon The House

If birds start building a nest but then desert the box, it likely indicates a problem with the site.

Solution: Ensure the box is securely mounted and does not sway in the wind. Check for signs of predators around the pole or roof. Consider using a camera to monitor activity and see if intruders are frightening the birds off. Remove any decorative items attached to the house exterior. Relocate excessively noisy or busy houses to a more secluded spot.

Problem: Multiple Bird Families Keep Evicting Each Other

Aggressive native species may compete for prime nesting sites and repeatedly toss out one another’s nests.

Solution: Provide several identical houses spaced well apart horizontally or vertically on a pole system to reduce squabbling. Clean out old nests between seasons so multiple pairs feel equally entitled to build in a house. Place nesting materials inside to encourage quicker occupancy.

Problem: Non-Native Birds Take Over The Birdhouse

Invasive species like house sparrows and European starlings may take over boxes, blocking native birds from using them.

Solution: Use an entry hole sized for smaller native species to exclude chunky invaders. Install nest boxes designed especially to exclude non-native birds like those with slot, half-circle or oval-shaped entry holes. Routinely clean out partially built nests to prevent takeover.

Structural Damage Issues

Like any exposed outdoor structure, birdhouses suffer wear and tear over time. Addressing maintenance issues will expand their safe usefulness.

Problem: The Birdhouse Is Rotting Away

Exposure to sun, rain, snow and moisture causes wood birdhouses to deteriorate and rot over the years.

Solution: Use weather-resistant cedar, redwood or treated pine wood. Apply water sealant treatments annually. Add zinc or copper strips to roof edges prevent decay. Ensure drainage holes do not clog and cause moisture buildup inside. Bring houses in during rainy periods and store under shelter in winter.

Problem: The Birdhouse Has Warped And Come Apart

Seasonal changes in temperature and humidity cause wood birdhouses to crack, warp and come unglued as parts separate from swelling and contraction.

Solution: Use metal fasteners like screws or nails instead of glue when assembling wooden houses. Allow space between boards for expansion. Prior to installation each season, inspect houses and reuse hardware to pull joints tightly back together. Fill cracks with weatherproof caulk.

Problem: The Entry Hole Is No Longer Correct Size

The carefully sized entry hole can become enlarged, misshapen or obstructed as the wood hole edge splits or swells.

Solution: Monitor the hole periodically and file down splintered edges to maintain a consistently sized opening. If hole size increases significantly, replace the damaged front panel. Ensure hole does not fill with nesting materials, and clean out debris between seasons.

Problem: The Birdhouse Is Infested With Wood Boring Insects

Carpenter bees, woodpeckers and other insects bore into untreated wooden birdhouses, severely compromising their structure.

Solution: Apply insect repellent treatments made for wood structures annually. Pull apart houses and inspect carefully for sawdust evidence of larvae infestations and fill any holes. Replace extensively damaged sections or entire houses. Use thick untreated oak or install hardware cloth lining to deter woodpeckers.

Top 10 Birdhouse Problems and Solutions – FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions about common birdhouse problems and how to solve them:

What are the most common birdhouse problems?

The most common issues that can make a birdhouse unsuitable are instability, predators, weather exposure, accumulated debris, parasites, mold, lack of occupancy, competition between birds, takeover by invasive species, rotting, warping, damaged entry holes, and insect damage.

How can I make my birdhouse more secure?

Mount the house on a sturdy pole or bracket fixed firmly in the ground, use weather-resistant hardware, position out of reach of predators, and orient the opening away from prevailing winds and rains.

Why are birds abandoning my birdhouse?

Birds may abandon a house due to instability, predators nearby, excess noise, competition with other birds, or external disturbances. Monitor activity via camera and relocate the house somewhere more secluded if needed.

How often should I clean out my birdhouse?

It is best to fully clean out birdhouses at the end of each nesting season to clear out old nests, feces, parasites, and debris which can compromise sanitation and health.

What can I do to prevent my wooden birdhouse from deteriorating?

Use weather-resistant wood, apply protective sealants annually, ensure adequate drainage, bring houses in during extreme weather, and store under cover to prevent damage from sun, rain, and moisture.

Why is my birdhouse coming apart and how can I fix it?

Wood expands and contracts with changes in humidity and temperature. Use screws or nails instead of glue to assemble houses, leaving space between boards. Tighten hardware seasonally to pull separated joints snugly back into alignment.

How do I keep invasive bird species from taking over my birdhouse?

Use a smaller entry hole appropriately sized for desired native species, install specially designed anti-invasive birdhouses, and routinely remove any partially built nests laid by unwanted birds.

What’s the best way to get rid of bird mites in a birdhouse?

Applying a permethrin powder insecticide inside the empty house between seasons will safely kill any parasites living in cracks and crevices. Let fully dry before reinstalling the treated house.

How can I stop woodpeckers from damaging my birdhouse?

Use thick untreated oak wood, install a hardware cloth lining to deter pecking, or apply specialized insect and woodpecker repellent treatments made for wood structures to discourage damage.

Why won’t birds use my brand new birdhouse?

It can take weeks or months for birds to discover and feel comfortable with a new nesting site. Ensure the house meets local species’ preferences. Add nesting materials to encourage occupancy. Be patient!


Providing birds with safe, clean housing helps supplement declining natural nesting habitats as urbanization increases. Knowing the top birdhouse problems homeowners commonly encounter and their solutions will allow you to effectively maintain these important refuges for generations of birds to come. Check houses annually and address any issues promptly to ensure satisfying and successful bird nesting experiences each season. With simple regular care and maintenance, your backyard birdhouses will thrive and create delightful natural experiences for your family.


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