Updated at: 18-06-2023 - By: Jane Brody

Putting up a birdhouse is all that’s required to attract birds, but you can get a jump on things by prepping a box for up to thirteen different species.

The only acceptable material for a birdhouse is wood chippings, and even those must be of a high enough grade to attract birds. Avoid using sawdust and any other wood products at any costs. Make that the ventilation holes are still in good working order and use only 2–3 inches of gently filled chippings.

Do You Put Anything In A Birdhouse

In the absence of any other suitable material, a pile of wood chippings can be used to attract owls, ducks, and woodpeckers, as well as a few other typical backyard birds.

It’s a popular misconception that birdhouses should be stocked with food like seed, yet doing so actually attracts predators.

Wood chippings are the only thing you should ever put in a birdhouse, and that’s only if the birds you want to attract will use a birdhouse with wood chippings already inside.

The Kestrel, Barn Owl, Eastern Screech Owl, and Wood Duck are just few of the birds that can benefit from having some chippings added to their box.

The Black-capped Chickadee, the White-breasted Nuthatch, and the Tufted Titmouse are some examples of more frequent backyard birds that use birdhouses filled exclusively with wood chippings.

Similar to how chippings can be added to a Downy, Hairy-headed, or Red-bellied woodpecker’s nest, chippings can be added to any woodpecker’s birdhouse.

The addition of wood chippings to a birdhouse raises concerns about the vents being blocked, as they are still a necessary component of any birdhouse.

Thus, if you think you can’t avoid covering up the holes in the base of the birdhouse, don’t use wood chippings or anything else.

Birdhouse material table

Species: Material-type: Quantity:
American Kestrel Wood Chips 3 inches
American Robin No Material Empty
Barn Swallow No Material Empty
Barred Owl Wood Chips 3 inches
Bewick’s Wren No Material Empty
Black-Capped Chickadee Wood Chips 3 inches
Carolina Wren No Material Empty
Downy Woodpecker Wood Chips 2 inches
Eastern Bluebird No Material Empty
Eastern Phoebe No Material Empty
Eastern Screech Owl Wood Chips 3 inches
Eurasian Tree Sparrow No Material Empty
Hairy-Headed Woodpecker Wood Chips 2 inches
House Finch No Material Empty
House Sparrow No Material Empty
House Wren No Material Empty
Mountain Bluebird No Material Empty
Northern Flicker Wood Chips 2 inches
Purple Martin No Material Empty
Red-Bellied Woodpecker Wood Chips 2 inches
Red-Breasted Nuthatch Wood Chips 3 inches
Red-Headed Woodpecker Wood Chips 2 inches
Tree Swallow No Material Empty
Tufted Titmouse Wood Chips 3 inches
Western Bluebird No Material Empty
Wood Duck Wood Chips 3 inches
Wood Thrush No Material Empty
White-Breasted Nuthatch Wood Chips 3 inches

Out of the 28 species of birds I’ve included on my list of the best birdhouse nesting birds in the United States, only 13 will use a box with wood chippings provided by the human owner.

Simple wood chippings only

Do You Put Anything In A Birdhouse-2

It’s crucial to utilize pet standard wood chippings exclusively for your birdhouse, as these will be of the highest quality and will not contain any of the potentially deadly sharp or spike-like chippings that may often be found in a pack of this nature.

Wood chippings are all that is required to fill a birdhouse that is designed for a certain type of bird.

Naturally, you’ll want to be able to get into your bird home, and a hinged roof or similar opening on the side or front is the way to do so.

When laying down wood chippings, make sure they are not compacted too much otherwise the floor will get stuffy.

Wood chippings are OK in bird houses as long as the ventilation holes on the floor are kept open.

Too many wood chippings can form a solid block, preventing moisture from evaporating and preventing air ventilation, rendering the birdhouse ineffective.

Put some wood chippings in the bottom of the birdhouse, but only if they’re loose.

Up to 2-3 inches worth

The height to which the wood chippings should be heaped depends largely on the size of the bird house.

You just need about 2 or 3 inches of it each time, so it’s easy to figure out even if you don’t have perfect eyesight.

You also don’t have to calculate the weight of wood chippings because all you have to do is load it in (up to a height of 3 inches).

In cases where a birdhouse is constructed without a bottom grill, the height is typically a straightforward three inches.

As a result, wood chippings should be heaped on top of the grill in birdhouses that have one so that air can circulate freely about the structure.

However, many kinds of birds that nest in birdhouses would appreciate a softer, thicker cushion at the base of the birdhouse than one inch of wood chippings.

Restricted to 13 species

Only thirteen species out of the twenty-eight listed in my chart above are likely to make a home in a birdhouse using fresh wood chips as bedding.

Predators like the kestrel, eastern screech owl, and barn owl may not seem very relevant, but they are important to think about if you’re passionate about conservation.

The Wood Duck is also mentioned because that species prefers to nest in boxes lined with wood chips.

Birds like the Black-capped chickadee, the red-breasted nuthatch, the white-breasted nuthatch, and the tufted titmouse are the most frequent inhabitants of suburban birdhouses.

Woodpeckers of all varieties will be content in a box containing wood chips, so you need not worry if you provide such a home for them.

The Northern Flicker, Downy, Hairy-Headed, Red-Bellied, and Red-Headed woodpeckers can all nest in a bird house made of chippings.

The bluebird, wren, and house finch are just a few of the backyard birds that are unlikely to use a birdhouse if food is provided.

Birdhouses can go without

Do You Put Anything In A Birdhouse-3

Wood chippings and wood chippings only should be used in a birdhouse, as sawdust is harmful to birds just as it is to humans.

You don’t even need to put anything in the box, much alone wood chippings, if you want to put up a birdhouse in your yard and increase the likelihood of attracting the right bird species to it.

Although birds prefer a box that has already been prepared for them by having a soft cushion placed on the bottom, any box will do as long as it provides the same protections as a well-constructed birdhouse.

Your birdhouse won’t need anything, and the birds will figure it out on their own, that much I know for sure.

There are thirteen species of birds on the list that are known to nest in a box with wood chippings, so a birdhouse for a species marked “No Material” must be left empty.

Of course, the same birds could use a nesting box filled with chippings, but studies have shown that they avoid them because they mistakenly believe the box is already occupied or has been disturbed.


Wood chippings are the only safe option for nesting material in birdhouses, as other wood-based materials, such as sawdust or branches, can be harmful to the birds and their young.

My table summarizes the thirteen bird species that would welcome the addition of wood chippings to their cage.

A rough estimate of wood chippings needed, in inches, can be of use here; there’s no need to bother about weighing chippings to utilize each species.

Chippings need only line the bottom of the birdhouse for a total of 2–3 inches, depending on the species.

All that is required are some standard, high-quality wood chips, without any dangerously sharp pieces.

Line the birdhouse with wood chips by dropping them in through the entrance without forcing them down to form a tight seal.

Drilling holes in the bottom of a birdhouse is essential for ventilation. This is in addition to the fact that moisture must be drained through the same openings.

Even though you’re just limited to 13 species, you can rest easy knowing that you won’t need wood chippings (or anything else) to attract birds to your birdhouse.

Birds may easily construct a nest without any help from human wood chippings.

You should only use high-grade wood chippings in a birdhouse.

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