Like weather vanes and sundials, bird houses can be as artistic as they are functional. Bird houses come in many styles, from gaily painted wooden antiques to sleek metal models to plain old wooden ones. However delightful they may look to you, you’ll want to make sure the birds find them attractive as well. Learn about what birds use bird houses and how to acquire the most success in housing wild birds.
Only cavity-nesting birds (those that nest in tree hollows) use bird houses. This group includes bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches, swallows, and wrens. The type of bird house you install determines the kinds of birds you’ll attract. However, this is a most inexact science as a bird house may be intended for a wren or a bluebird, but it will be fair game for any birds of similar size that find it to their fancy. This can be a fun feature to providing bird houses in your backyard.
Small birds, such as chickadees, nuthatches, and most wrens, prefer a hole that’s 1 1/8 inches across. Medium-size birds, such as bluebirds, swallows, and purple martins, need a nest box with a hole 1 ½ inches wide. White-breasted nuthatches need a 1 ¼ inch opening.
Larger birds, such as flickers and kestrels, take boxes with 2 ½ inch entry holes. Flickers usually like to dig out their own nests, but sometimes you can attract them with a large nest box. If you happen to fill it with wood chips, they’ll dig it right out.
Do’s & Don’ts
To keep bird houses safe from raccoons and cats, mount the bird houses atop metal poles. If you want to put a bird house in a tree, hang it from a branch. If you supply bird feeders in your yard keep the bird houses away from the feeders. Mealtime can make nesting birds nervous and scare them off. Wherever you plan on putting your bird house make sure the entrance is facing away from any prevailing weather. You can also remove the perch if your bird house comes with one; they are unnecessary and house sparrows may sit on them to heckle birds inside the bird house. When choosing a bird house make sure it’s made of good insulated material. Bird houses made out of at least 1-inch-thick wood usually is good insulation. If you make your own bird house, steer away from using plastic milk cartons as they are too thin and have poor ventilation. The heat created with this kind of material can bake chicks inside or make them fledge too early from your bird house. You’ll want to make sure you can easily clean bird houses so look for an opening at the top or side of the house. Also drain holes in the bottom of your bird houses and ventilation holes high in the sides of the house for summer heat are good things to watch for. Bird houses should be up before migrant season begins around late February because they will be looking for nesting sites soon after they arrive. And lastly, if you decide to put up more than one bird house keep them well separated and out of site from one another. Just like humans, birds most like their space!
These bird house basics should get you off on the right foot. After deciding which types of birds you want to attract and choosing the right bird house for them, you should start to see a more active wild life in your backyard. Providing bird houses in your lawn or garden is a delightful hobby. Enjoy picking out your bird house or bird houses because there a lot to choose from.
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