Building bird houses for your backyard can add a distinctive flavor to your garden.
And provide you many hours of pleasure and satisfaction, both while building and watching your backyard birds enjoy the homes you provide for them.
But just because you build it, does not mean they will use it. There are how ever a number of things you can do to bring success to your wild bird housing plans.
Whether you build decorative houses or plainly functional, all will serve a purpose and I have seen a wide variety of bird homes used by our feathered friends over the years.
Even ones some people adamantly stated that would remain empty and never attract a dweller.
So enjoy, because there is a very good possibility the birds will.
Bird houses need to be easy to open for cleaning.
Nesting birds will not build a new nest in a house that contains last year’s nest.
It must be cleaned out after every nesting season.
An un-hatched egg or dead chick could be left in the house from the previous season and will need to be removed.
When building bird houses, a good plan will include a way to clean out the old nest.
Usually this means one side can be opened or the roof can lift up.
This can be done by means of a pin that allows a pivotal action or with a hinge.
A raccoon and squirrel proof lock must be attached, to keep them from eating the eggs or young birds.
A method of easy access to the bird house for cleaning, also is a nice feature that allows the bird watcher a quick peak.
What an exciting way to further enjoy your backyard birds!
This must be done with some care and caution though.
It is crucial to only do this when the parent birds are away and only very briefly.
A quick look can alert a diligent landlord to problems which may be averted; for example improper drainage or lice problems.
Never sneak a peek when the young are near the end of their fledge stage. (Fledge is the stage of growing feathers to ready for flying.)
It may cause them to leave the bird nest just before they are actually ready to fly and they have less of a chance of survival if their parents have to feed them on the ground.
The entrance to a bird house must be cut to the proper diameter to ensure that the appropriate bird will be attracted to it when building bird houses. Cutting the holes too large will enable larger birds or other predators access to the baby birds.
Therefore it is important that you know the correct size of the entrance required to attract the birds that are suited to a bird house. The correct measurements are given in the following chart.
When building bird houses they must be designed to allow free flowing air for good ventilation.
There should be small openings in the top of the bird house, under the overhang of the roof. This allows hot air to escape to prevent over heating and create the flow of fresh air through the bird house.
When building bird houses the ventilation opening should be small enough as to not allow predators to reach inside.
If you choose to paint your bird house, only use approved oil paints that are classified as safe for bird houses, or use exterior latex paint. Lead-based paints or creosote should be avoided.
Never paint the inside of a bird house. Fumes from painting the inside, or using the wrong kind of paint on the outside of the bird house, as just mentioned, can cause sickness or death to wild birds.
Something to think about: Just because you like bright colors, does not mean the songbirds you want to attract will share your enthusiasm.
Nesting birds actually prefer tans, browns or grays that will blend in with the surroundings and therefore are less obvious to predators.
But they will use brightly painted decorative bird houses as a second choice.
Most cavity-dwelling birds can cling without the assistance of a perch.
A perch at the entrance of a bird house will only assist predatory birds such as Starlings, Blue Jays and Blackbirds as they are not adept at clinging.
A perch makes it easier for these predatory birds in their quest to invade the bird house to destroy the bird’s nest; eat the eggs or baby birds.
It is therefore worth considering when building bird houses if a perch is really necessary.
Installing a predator guard to the entrance of the bird house will help to stave off raccoons, squirrels and predatory birds. If you are building bird houses and want to protect the baby birds and eggs, attach blocks of wood that are about 1 ¼ inches thick around the entrance.
(If this were my house I would cut off the perch attached to the Guard.)
Predator guards can also be purchased and attached to the entrance.
Metal predator guards will be more effective than wood or plastic. Metal will prevent paws and beaks from tearing and chewing the guard off.
If you are mounting your bird house on a pole, installing a baffle on the pole, under the bird house, is very effective for stopping squirrels, cats and raccoons from reaching the bird house.
(If the house on the left were mine, I would remove the perch.) ;)
Bird houses will need a “ladder” on the inside. Some types of wood, such as pine, when used in building bird houses, have very smooth hard surfaces that do not allow the young birds toe holds, to climb out of their houses.
A bird ladder can be applied by roughing up or scoring the wall under the entrance, on the inside of the bird house. This will assist the baby birds in crawling out when it is time to fledge.
Houses made with cedar will not need to have a ladder "installed" because the wood is naturally rough providing the baby birds with a surface they can climb to the entrance hole.
Natural cavities used for nesting are rough inside and naturally provide a "ladder" for the baby birds.
Bird houses need to have drainage holes. From time to time driving rain will get in and needs a way to get out. Drainage holes will allow water to drain out of the birdhouse to keep the bird’s nest dry. This will help ensure a healthy bird abode for the nesting parents and their baby birds.
The material that is used when building bird houses is an important factor.
The decision will be based on the climate where a bird house is to be erected and the ability to perform maintenance on the bird house.
Metal can get very hot during the summer months so this makes metal bird houses not a good choice for certain areas where summer temperatures are hot.
Aluminum is a better choice as it will not hold the heat as other metals do.
Wood has good insulation properties, warmer in cooler temperatures and cooler in hotter weather, comparatively speaking.
When wood is painted a light colour it again increases the ability to stay cooler in the hotter climates.
It is often stated that Purple Martin houses should be made in light colours to prevent over heating of the baby birds during the nesting season. This is good advice for southern regions of the United States for example where the temperatures can reach dangerously high levels for baby birds.
Therefore a light coloured bird house is better, as it deflects heat rather than dark colours which absorb heat.
In the northern regions of the United States and in Canada where temperatures in May and June can be very cool, a darker Purple Martin house may be preferable.
There have been years when these two months were too cold for many little birds and they succumbed to the elements.
This noticeably depleted the Purple Martin population in these regions.
Cedar and pine are popular types of wood to use when building bird houses. Pine, although often less expensive to purchase, is heavier than cedar. So it may be more cumbersome to manage when cleaning a larger bird house, like a Purple Martin House. Cedar will last longer than pine but both will last for many years. Both types of wood will age with a natural patina if left untreated.
The fine books below will help and guide you in making good choices when building bird houses or bird feeders. There are also kits which will make it easy or fun to make with children!
Excellent Books For Building Your Own Bird Houses & Feeders
Roosting box Plans
Roosting Box & Directions
Ready to Go!
Make Things Easy With A Birdhouse Kit
Happy bird house building!!
Types of Bird Houses
Building Your Own