Have you ever wanted a birdhouse or nest box to attract cavity-nesting birds? What a great way to support nature and make your place bird friendly. If you don't know how to pick one and where to start we are here to help you out!
Bird Species That Use Nest Boxes
It is important to note that not all bird species are happy to use an enclosed birdhouse which wasn't built by them, but there are plenty of those who will and make you a happy bird landlord. Here is the list of your possible future tenants:
Chickadees and Tits: Black-capped chickadee, Blue tit, Carolina chickadee, Chestnut-backed chickadee, Coal tit, Great tit, Marsh tit, Tufted titmouse
Ducks: Common goldeneye, Hooded merganser, Wood duck
Finches and Sparrows: House finch, House sparrow, Zebra finch
Flycatchers and Warblers: Ash-throated flycatcher, Black redstart, Great crested flycatcher, Lucy's warbler, Pied flycatcher, Prothonotary warbler
Nuthatches and Creepers: Brown creeper, Brown-headed nuthatch, Red-breasted nuthatch, White-breasted nuthatch
Swifts and Swallows: Purple martin, Tree swallow, Violet-green swallow
Thrushes: Eastern bluebird, European robin, Western bluebird, Mountain bluebird
Woodpeckers: Downy woodpecker, Hairy woodpecker, Northern flicker, Pileated woodpecker, Red-bellied woodpecker, Red-headed woodpecker
Wrens: House wren, Carolina wren
Birds of Prey: American kestrel, Barn owl, Eastern screech owl, Lesser kestrel, Tawny owl, Western screech owl
Birdhouse Appearance and Style
If you want to get a ready built birdhouse you will find them in all sorts of shapes and sizes, made from different materials. Also if you want to be a responsible bird landlord and increase your chances of attracting birds you should keep it simple and follow these rules:
- Pick birdhouse made of wood. This material is natural and durable, it won't overheat and will keep the moisture away.
- Avoid unnatural vivid colors. Every house is a safe place to be and birdhouse is no exception. Making it overly colourful will attract predators and scare away those in need of a shelter. Natural, unpainted wood is the best choice.
- Avoid birdhouse with a perch. Birds don't need them and predators will appreciate it for sure. Once again, keep it simple.
Since every bird is different, each species will have their own requirements when it comes to birdhouse size. Just keep in mind to select correct size for entrance hole, overall size of house (a house too big won't help small bird to warmup) as well as necessary safety features, such as ventilation and draining holes.
Placing a Birdhouse
When you have found your perfect birdhouse it is the time to put it up. The best season to do this is fall or winter, making sure birds will have enough time to discover your house before the breeding season.
Once the place for birdhouse is selected, make sure you mount it securely and that the entrance hole is facing slightly downward, this will help to protect the house from direct wind and rain. Also think about possible predators, such as racoons, mice and snakes, is it easy for them to get to the house?
If you plan to put up the birdhouse in your backyard, please remember a general rule of no more than two houses per species per acre of property.
Attracting Birds to Birdhouses
Just because you have put up a birdhouse it will not attract birds on its own, they will not simply move in, but there are certain ways to make it attractive and more usable. Here are the main points you would want to focus, to meet birds expectations:
- Food: This is crucial for nesting birds as they need to know they have enough food to feed their chicks. You can use black oil sunflower seeds that many birdhouse residents will appreciate for sure. Also there are more specialized foods for certain birds, such as suet for woodpeckers and mealworms for bluebirds.
- Water: This is as crucial as food, because every bird needs fresh water source for drinking and bathing. If you will manage to provide such source close to birdhouse it will definitely increase your chances of seeing nesting birds. You can use basic bird baths or even bird bath fountains, which can be more attractive due to splashing sounds of water.
- Shelter: Your birdhouse needs to be safe and give shelter to birds. You can add evergreen trees and variety of plants next to birdhouse to give them warm feeling of safety. Nesting birds will use twigs, plant down, mosses and leaves as nesting material.
- Bird-Friendly Landscaping: If you want to go above and beyond a simple birdhouse and make your back yard bird friendly, you can create a naturalized areas for birds comfort, don't use too much pesticide or any other chemicals to allow birds to feast on nutritious insects.
Last but not least, when you have done all the preparation works, please remember it is essential for nesting birds to have their privacy, which contributes to overall felling of security while they manage to raise their families. Try not to disturb them too much it is better to watch them from a distance.
Adding Nesting Material to Birdhouses
It takes an incredible amount of effort to construct a nest for any bird. Nesting birds use a wide range of building materials from grass, mosses and twigs to animal fur, mud, spider silk and bits of string. Some birds can even use plastic bags, snakeskin and foil.
While it looks like an easy option for you to provide all sorts of materials to help, most birds are very picky on what exactly they are going to use for constructing a nest and many would simply throw away all the materials provided before they even begin any works. So too much help is actually making your birdhouse less attractive.
Some birds, such as woodpeckers or owls, which do not build elaborate nests may still appreciate a thin layer of coarse sawdust or small wood chips added to birdhouse. This will also help them to insulate and cushion eggs. Just make sure the material you provide is coarse enough and won't cause potential breathing difficulties or present a hazard for young hatchlings.
How to Care For Birdhouses
After the breeding season is over it is a good idea to clean out the birdhouse, which will help to reuse it for next season. Simply remove old nesting material and scrub the house. You can use some bleach for cleaning, but make sure you rinse well and allow the house to dry completely.
Some birds, such as bluebirds or robins will have multiple breedings per season and in this case you can clean the birdhouse between breedings. Just make sure the birds have completely fledged and left the nest. To make cleaning process as easy as possible you can get a birdhouse with one side that easily opens.
Once you done with cleaning you can leave birdhouse up for the year, because it can still be used by some birds for night roosting and give shelter to those who hide from cold winter nights.
Thats about all you need to know to be a successful bird landlord. Depending on your goals you can now contribute to many breeding seasons and help birds to enjoy their time and raise their families.