house sparrow house

backyard visitors
Here are some sparrows, starlings, and a squirrel visiting our backyard feeders a few summers ago.

We have a long hedge that sits between the sidewalk and our front porch. Throughout the end of the winter and beginning of this spring, the hedge has often been full of house sparrows hiding out and chattering away. When you walk down the sidewalk, the birds sit quietly inside the hedge, close enough to reach out and touch them if they weren’t protected by the branches. In past years, the sparrows (and some squirrels) have nested inside one of my neighbor’s attic. I am sure some of them will do the same this year, but I decided to build a birdhouse for them and see if we could get a few to nest on our porch.

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If you’re trying to attract a certain type of bird, it’s important to build a house to suit their size and habits. For this house, I followed some basic plans I found online: Sparrows are communal nesters, so this box has three compartments. The entry holes are about 1.5″ wide, big enough for a sparrow but small enough to keep out larger predators like racoons and possibly starlings or crows… and cats, though I have never seen cats on our roof. There is a ledge below the entry holes on the inside so young birds can get up and out of the house once they’re ready to start flying. The bottom is attached with screws and no glue, so it can be removed to clean out the boxes at the end of each nesting season. I also followed the online suggestion about placement and positioned the box facing northeast under the eaves of our porch.

sparrow houseon porch

In the past we have had all kinds of birds visiting our feeders. The sparrows are the most numerous. Lots of spring species are starting to appear in the woods these days, though not many have come back to our yard yet. I’ve never noticed any birds building nests on our tiny lot. One year a squirrel nested inside our back entryway and I had to open up the ceiling to remove her babies and relocate the nest. That was interesting and a little nerve wracking when she jumped out at me from a dark corner. (She moved the babies up into our neighbor’s attic, sorry neighbor!) Hopefully creating some more appropriate places to nest will make our wild visitors happy and keep them from creating their own spaces inside the house.