Build a Chickadee Nesting Box

For such a tiny bird, the chickadee’s call is quite mighty—its distinctive chick-a-dee-dee song can be heard year-round among the forests, parks, orchards, swamplands, and backyards of North America, and its bright, inquisitive nature makes it a regular presence at feeders. In fact, it generally does not migrate. Michael Berger’s book Easy Birdhouses & Feeders informs us that building a birdhouse for chickadees (both the Black-capped Chickadee in the northern United States and Canada and the Carolina Chickadee in the southern United States) can be an easy process and one that offers safe harbor to this chipper little bird.

Easy Birdhouses & Feeders

Chickadees, both the Black-capped and the Carolina, are vocal, energetic birds, but their loud voices do not match their size; the average chickadee weighs a mere .4 ounces, equivalent to the combined weight of a quarter, nickel, and dime. They are readily seen around bird feeders and have specialized leg muscles that enable them to hang upside down.

The Black-capped Chickadee prefers deciduous and mixed deciduous-coniferous woodlands, but it is also found in suburban areas as long as there is suitable nesting sites and adequate food. They gather in flocks and have a pecking order in that a main pair will dominate over all other individuals. During winter, chickadees have an amazing ability to enter a state of “controlled hypothermia” on cold nights, and they can drop their body temperature by 18–22° Fahrenheit to conserve energy during the night.

Easy Birdhouses & Feeders

While this house may look a bit more complicated than a basic box-style house, it’s actually fairly basic to build provided you have a jigsaw. Because you can change the angle of the jigsaw’s blade, the tool makes it easy to make the 45° cuts that this house requires.

If you live in a region or neighborhood where predation is a concern, incorporate a suitable predator guard into your plans.

Birdhouse Placement

Chickadees prefer to nest along forest edges and are especially prevalent along the edges of farm fields where forested areas have been disturbed. With that in mind, follow these guidelines for best house placement:

  • Mount the house 4–15 feet above the ground.
  • Choose a location that receives sunlight 40–60 percent of the day.
  • Locate the house along edges of forests or other heavily treed areas.
  • Place about 1 inch of wood chips or shavings in the bottom of the box.

What You’ll Need

Easy Birdhouses & Feeders


Easy Birdhouses & Feeders

Building the Box

1. Cut the parts to the dimensions listed in the cutting list. An easy way to cut the 45° bevels along the top edge of the roof and along the bottom edge of the floor is to first set the blade angle of your jigsaw to 45°. Use a combination square as a guide to help you steady the jigsaw as you cut, and work slowly across the board, letting the saw do the work.

2. Use a hole saw or a Forstner bit to bore a 1 ½” -diameter entrance hole in one of the sides.

3. Use glue and 1 ⅝” exterior-rated screws to attach the sides flush to the edges of the back; then fasten the roof and floor to the sides and back in the same fashion.

Easy Birdhouses & Feeders

Hold a combination square tightly to the workpiece to serve as a straight edge as you make the 45° beveled cuts needed for the roof and floor.

Easy Birdhouses & Feeders

After attaching the sides to the back, glue and screw the roof to the sides and back, followed by the floor.