Nesting boxes for the smaller birds should be made with entrances so small that gray squirrels can’t get in. Sparrows may be kept out of the wrens‘ nesting boxes by making the entrance not over one inch in diameter. They may be discouraged from building in other nesting boxes by taking the eggs, which involves no cruelty, or by keeping the boxes closed until the sparrows have built elsewhere, and then opening them about May 1, when the native birds have mated.
The entrance holes of the nesting boxes should be ll inches for chickadees; ll inches for bluebirds or swallows, and 2 inches or more for martins. Pine wood is the best material for a bird-house, as it is light but strong and durable enough. Metal or pottery may be used. Placing it in the shade is the best place. We must allow the birds to be the judges of what they want. The inside measurements of a box for wrens may be 3x3x6; for chickadees, 3x3x9; for bluebirds, 4x4x9; for swallows, 5x5x6. The longest dimension is always the vertical one. These measurements are not arbitrary. The boxes may be larger, but not much smaller. The swallow box may have a perch, but that’s not absolutely essential.
The back board should project two or three inches below the box so that it may be nailed or screwed to a pole, building, or tree. The roof may be horizontal or sloping toward the front, and it should project at least two inches over the entrance hole which should be near the top. The size of the entrance hole is most important.
Most people put up too many bird boxes at the start. The birds quarrel for them and sometimes do not nest at all. They should be placed at least 100 feet apart at first; 200 feet or even more, is better. After the first comers have settled and have eggs or young, a few other boxes may be put up.