Every year we are blessed with bluebirds. Usually 2 or 3 pair arrive in mid March to set up house in one of our many blue birdhouses that we have built over the years. In a normal season they will have 2 clutches of about 5 to 6 youngsters. Many other birds nest in our garden as well, either in boxes or trees and bushes. It was not until we provided the birdhouses with specific dimensions for bluebirds that they graced us with their company. When considering birdhouses for your garden keep in mind that specific shapes and dimensions attract specific birds.
Many birds become very territorial during their mating season. The size of their territory ranges from miles to under an acre. Other birds nest in communities, living very close together. Unless you have a very large garden you will most likely only attract one pair of territorial species at a time. Less territorial species can be attracted into your yard with bird feeders and a diverse collection of plants, birdhouses and nesting materials.
About 50 species of birds in North America are known to nest in birdhouses. Birdhouses of all types are available at garden shops, hardware stores, on line and mail order companies. If your handy build some handmade bird houses, you will find ample plans or easy to assemble kits.
The important specifics for birds is the bird house dimensions, not so much their style. The diameter, placement of the entrance hole, dimensions of the interior space including floor space are all important for each species. The best birdhouses should accommodate only 1 nest and a simple design painted a neutral colour will attract more birds. A simple bird house is the best. The birdhouses we sometimes see full of frills and colour are really more suitable as garden decorations. Avoid any with moving parts or reflective materials.
Materials used for birdhouses should be strong, durable and able to breath. Houses must be built to stay dry and insulated to remain warm on cool days, and cool on hot days. Your best material is of course well seasoned wood. Stay away from plastic, ceramic or metal bird houses as moisture will build up in these houses and they will also literally bake the baby birds. Use a latex paint if you want to adorn the house and stick to the naturals such as brown, green or grey.
When you mount your birdhouse make sure it is strong and stable as an unstable house will surely cause harm to your birds. You can mount your house on a post or pole using screws or attach it securely to a wall or tree. Place the entrance hole away from the path of prevailing winds, this is often south or southeast. Ensure your house is mounted with a slight downward tilt to prevent rain from entering through the entrance hole.
A birds house must be clean so only clean birdhouses will attract customers. As most birds will not use a nest a second time due to parasites, your houses should be cleaned as soon as the babies have fledged. Also protect your birds from predators. Place houses where cats can not reach them, and attach a squirrel guard if necessary.
Birds generally prefer to be in the open sun as opposed to shade. Open grassy areas with a few trees is very attractive. Wherever you place your birdhouse there must also be an unobstructed flight path to the entrance.
If you are new to bird housing, use the winter months for bird house projects. Get your houses made and ready to put up first thing in the spring. The early bird gets the worm!
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(some photos from pixabay) (some links go to my affiliate Amazon account)