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How to Attract Birds with Painted Birdhouses and Other Features

There are infinite reasons to add a birdhouse to your garden or yard. They're a joy to look at, of course, but they also offer tons of other features and benefits. One of our favorites? Birdhouses provide a safe habitat to those who've been displaced by rapid deforestation and urbanization. 

Because birdhouses are so inviting to local birds, they also help with pest control, weed control, flower pollination and the maintenance of native plants. Birdhouses painted in pretty colors also add character and depth to outdoor spaces. And for many outdoor enthusiasts, the birds themselves are the main attraction. This also refers to other types of bird attractors such as types hummingbird feeders. Find our where hummingbirds live with this interesting article.

In this article, we'll uncover exactly how to paint birdhouses to attract as birds to your backyard by offering them a safe, cozy place to nest. (Alternatively if you're trying to get rid of birds, check out some of our other articles, such as how to keep sparrows away from a birdhouse). We'll also detail the key features of functional birdhouses. Finally, we'll provide some shopping advice if you're looking to purchase a prefabricated birdhouse instead. (After all, building and painting birdhouses by hand is not for everyone!)


bird houses to attract birds to your yard


What is the best color to paint a birdhouse?

Depending on how you've mounted your birdhouse, the best color to paint a birdhouse is usually a camouflage tone that does not draw unnecessary attention from predators. A camouflage tone usually means a neutral shade, but not always. If your dwelling is situated amidst a vibrant garden, a birdhouse painted bold may camouflage better.

Popular paint colors for painted birdhouses include white, taupe, gray, ivory, brown, tan, olive green and sky blue. Another option is to choose a bird house that is not painted, as most natural wood colors also camouflage quite well.

Painting bird houses white and other light-colored hues is a very common choices for a variety of reasons. First, lightly painted dwellings look good in just about every style of home and garden. Second, white painted birdhouses do not stand out to predators. Third, these painted birdhouses reflect heat and sun instead of absorbing it, which helps keep birds cool during sweltering summer months.

Painting birdhouses is very common, but it is not essential. If you aren't a fan of the painted look, feel free to leave natural wood exposed.

Do birds like painted birdhouses?

Nesting birds like painted birdhouses and unpainted birdhouses. When choosing a birdhouse, birds are looking for a smartly-located shelter that's the right size and shape. They are not too picky about the color, although more neutral colors can help protect birds from attention predators.

A weird little note: if birds are pecking away at the paint of your own home, they may be calcium deficient. Blue jays will often eat paint chips to eat the calcium carbonate present in house paints.

Is it safe to paint a birdhouse?

Yes, it is safe to paint a birdhouse as long as you use non-toxic paint. Also, ensure the paint you use is not so dark that it absorbs too much heat. Finally, keep in mind that overly bold and bright colors may attract predators if not carefully placed.

You should avoid any kind of paint that contain lead, zinc or other heavy metals. If you buy a birdhouse that is already painted, you should verify what kind of paint was used before purchasing and installing the house.

Finally, another remind to not paint the inside of the birdhouses. Young chicks use the textured, natural walls to scurry up and down.

What kind of paint should I use to paint a birdhouse?

When painting birdhouses, use a latex-based paint meant for exterior use. Latex-based paints are water-soluble, which means they are both safer and more durable.

Latex paint is very similar to acrylic paint, but latex paint is water-based and acrylic paint is chemical-based. Because we're using the paint to house little creatures, of course the natural version is preferable. You should be able to find safe, latex-based paint at craft stores, online or at your local art supply store or hardware store.

If you are painting birdhouses, try to have them painted well in advance of spring, when nesting season begins. You may even want to paint in the fall, let the houses air out all winter, and then welcome birds to their new homes as the weather warms up.

For best results and safely painted birdhouses, apply two coots of paint to the exterior of the house, but leave the inside unpainted.

A weird little note: if birds are pecking away at the paint of your own house, they may be calcium deficient. Blue jays will often eat paint chips to eat the calcium carbonate present in house paints.

Are birdhouses good habitats for birds?

Birdhouses, when designed properly, are excellent habitats for nesting birds. These creatures need habitats like bird houses because their natural habitats are being destroyed. The most desirable nesting boxes feature natural wood, ventilation and drainage, privacy, a safe and secure location, an angled roof and a properly-sized entryway.

You can find prefabricated, painted birdhouses online, build one yourself, or buy a simple birdhouse and look for ideas on how to decorate and paint it an awesome color yourself.

What is causing habitat loss for birds?

Habitat loss is the most legitimate threat faced by birds, and is caused by deforestation, urbanization, draining of swamps, logging and more. As the world continues to develop and commercialize, birds' natural habitats grow harder and hard to come by.

According to the American Bird Conservancy, habitat loss is the biggest contributor to declining bird populations. The ABC's website indicates that over 290 million acres of North American grasslands have been transformed into farms, and that logging and farming operations in Latin America impact 85% of all threatened birds in that region.

Unfortunately, these are only a couple examples of the challenges faced by these animals. Birds all over the world are affected by habitat loss.

If you want to learn more about habitat loss and bird conversation efforts, both ABC and Audubon have tons of resources. You can also make a donation to either organization on their respective websites.

TV shows like Birders, which is available on Netflix, also bring awareness to conservation efforts. This short documentary shows how bird lovers on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border aim to celebrate and conserve the species.

What attracts birds to a birdhouse?

Birds are attracted to a birdhouse because they are in need of shelter. Because birds face habitat loss, a birdhouse can offer birds a place to relax, enjoy their seeds and nest. That being said, there are some ultra-important best practices for picking and placing birdhouses you should definitely consider.

These creatures are looking for a functional, safe place to shelter, nest and chow down. Birdhouses don't have to be fancy, although it's ok if you want to splurge! After all, there are so many gorgeous birdhouses to choose from these days.

Whether you design and build your own birdhouse or buy a prefabricated one, try to pick a birdhouse that meets this criteria:

A Great Location

Birds want a safe, smartly-located birdhouse in a prime location. Since your birdhouse is designed to make up for habitat loss, location is crucial.

Install plain or painted birdhouses at least 6 or 7 yards away from bird feeders and baths. Distance from water and feeders is important because many birds will not nest in high-traffic areas where other birds (or anything else, including you!) go often.

You'll also want to place your bird house at least 5 feet above ground level. You can create height by placing the birdhouse on a pole, nailing it to a tree or creating a post for it. Height is important because it separates birds from predators on the ground.

If you can, ensure the bird house's opening faces east. This will help keep strong winds away from the bird house.


Most, but not all, birds value privacy. As mentioned before, they'll almost always choose a birdhouse that is in a secure, low-traffic area that is safe and quiet. Birdhouses should be placed away from your own house or anywhere else people, predators and even other flocks tend to gather.

This also means you should not cluster your birdhouses. If you choose to install multiple birdhouses, spread them out around your property so every little feathered family has room to rest, relax and recharge.

A Just-Right Entry and Roof

The entryway to a birdhouse is about a whole lot more than looks. Different size entry holes appeal to different types of birds, so it's key to choose wisely. Think of it this way: birds want a hole that's roomy enough that they can climb through it, but not so spacious that predators can enter!

A slanted roof is a key feature of a welcoming birdhouse because it prevents rain from pooling. Ideally, an angled roof should cover the entryway, too.

A Smaller Home

Many, but not all, birds prefer a cozy, small home to a massive mansion. While the choice is yours, keep in mind that most birds are looking for a small, safe space that mimics the hollow part of a tree.

The Right Wood

Because you are offering a birdhouse in place of a natural habitat, you'll want to choose a home made out of natural wood, not synthetic wood or another material. Whether you choose a painted birdhouse or an unpainted birdhouse, verify that the wood underneath is real. Weathered, aged wood is very good because it's so similar to the tree trunks that birds typically choose to nest.

Another tip: don't paint the inside of the bird house. The natural texture of the wood helps baby birds crawl around the space.

Annual Maintenance

Once a year, when the time is right, perform some scheduled maintenance on your bird house. Dispose of the neglected nest to make room for a new one. Scrub and wash the inside of the painted birdhouse or unpainted birdhouse to keep it clean and safe, then let it dry completely before putting it right back up where it was before.

Some birdhouses, like our Happy Gardens birdhouses, feature removable back panels for easy cleaning and maintenance.

Materials for Nesting

While birds will return to the same birdhouse year after year, they won't reuse an old nest. Every spring, they'll want new materials to make the perfect nest. Place items like moss, soft grass, old hair and little pieces of fabric, feather and pine needles near your bird house every year. Your birds will find them, don't worry! (They were literally born to do this.)

You can find nesting materials in nature, online, around your house, or even at some local craft stores.

How do I make a birdhouse?

To make a birdhouse from scratch, you'll need a variety of materials and tools, including: softwood and hardwood, dowels, sanding sponges, hole saws, a drill bit set, a ruler or tape measurer, a small saw, carpenter squares and pens, pencils and paint.

You can find many of the materials you need at your local craft store, hardware store or online.

There are tons of amazing DIY birdhouse plans and ideas online, many of which are perfect for those new to woodworking. Almost all of them call for the following step-by-step process:

  1. Cut seven wood pieces (one for the bottom, two for the sides, two for front and back walls, and two to create an angled roof)
  2. Drill an entry hole into the front panel so birds can get in and out
  3. Put the birdhouse together using nails and wood glue
  4. Add a perch, if desired
  5. Sand the wood
  6. Add paint, if desired

A reminder, again, that when painting birdhouses, you'll want to get the home painted long before spring comes around. That'll give the house plenty of time to air out before move-in day!

Need more inspiration and ideas? Peruse Pinterest for infinite examples of painted birdhouses. But do keep in mind that some of the ideas displayed may not be functional for your feathered friends.

Where can I buy a birdhouse?

You can buy a birdhouse at many home decor and garden supply stores, in-person or online. When selecting a birdhouse, balance beauty and function. Choose something cute, but insist on a birdhouse that truly offers safety and shelter to local birds.

Our Happy Gardens shop features a wide-ranging selection of handcrafted painted birdhouses in every shape, size and color. Our carefully curated birdhouse collection--which also features bird feeders, fountains and baths--has been showcased in magazines like Elle and Better Homes and Gardens. Our best-selling birdhouses were also featured on Oprah’s 2017 Gift List.

Whether you choose our best-selling stone cottage bird house, our very chic she shed bird house, or our beloved little beach shack bird house , rest assured that each of our birdhouses has been painstakingly designed, constructed and decorated to be both functional and beautiful.

While you can check out each birdhouse's item details individually, most Happy Gardens birdhouses feature:

  • Appropriately-sized entryways so birds can get in easily, but predators cannot
  • Removable panels on the back wall for easy cleaning and maintenance
  • High-quality, natural wood materials like cedar and pine
  • Frustration-free assembly--no building required!
  • Ventilation
  • Draining
  • Unpainted interior
  • No pressure-treated wood
  • No harmful chemicals
  • Non-toxic, water-based outdoor paint (latex paint) that's already aired out

All Happy Gardens products, including our premium bird houses, are backed by a one-year, limited-replacement warranty and top-notch, quick and friendly customer service. If for any reason you are not happy with your purchase, we will do whatever we can to make it right.

About Happy Gardens

Happy Gardens curates an online collection unique, thoughtful garden decor and merchandise that's perfect for garden lovers, outdoor aficionados and bird nerds. Whether you've been searching high and low for an adorable birdhouse, unique metal wind chimes or a charming rain chain, Happy Gardens has what you're looking for. After all, each product we stock and sell has been chosen to fill your outdoor space with charm and cheer.

Our beloved collections include a remarkable variety of top-rated, beloved products like rain gauges, painted bird houses, funky wind chimes and cool garden ornaments and statues made from metal, stone and more. Plus, our new line of merchandise is bright, exciting, and great for gift-giving. Check out our wine glasses, tote bags and mini planters for all the garden, bird and plant-lovers in your life.

Want to learn more about our newest and coolest products? Join our email list. Want to bring some good vibes to your news feed? For tons of garden inspiration and your daily dose of greenery, follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

We're always here to help via chat if you need help picking out that perfect gift, redecorating your outdoor space or choosing that perfectly painted bird house.

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