Sunday, January 19, 2014

Birdhouses - - -Think Spring! ! !

Need something to do that will brighten up your yard/garden in the coming year? How about adding a new birdhouse or two? Even if you don't get any birds to use them it will add a little yard art to your view.

One of the birds basic needs are nesting sites. Depending on the species of bird, it could be located in deep grass, nesting boxes, tall trees, marshes, in abandoned buildings, in the side of a sand bank, and sometimes on cell or cable towers.

Some birds build nests on shelves on the side of buildings, basketball hoops, hanging flower pots and every other imaginable place. Some birds build very precise, intricate weaves, and some build a sloppy nest of some twigs. And other birds nest in colonies.
This photo and the one above is from my friend Jan's yard.
You will first have to decide what kind of birds you want to attract to your yard and then find out what kind of nests they construct. But before you do that you have to know what kind of habitat you have. Example: If you have a yard with few trees in it you are probably not going to be able to attract woodpeckers, but if you are on the edge of a clearing or have a large yard you might be able to attract bluebirds. Choose a nesting box or bird house based on what kind of birds are currently visiting your property. Once you determine that then you have to decide where to site the bird house and how high up to place it. It's not as complicated as it sounds, and there are a lot of pages on the internet that can help you with this information.

Here are some very good links that will help you with your initial choices of birdhouses:
An older bluebird house now used by wrens

Birds You Can Attract
Placement of Birdhouses
Design (important because it includes information on ventilation, drainage, accessibility, entrance hole, and cleaning). A note on the size of the entrance hole: it's important to have the correct size for the appropriate bird you want to use the bird house. If the hole is too big it will attract larger birds (like house sparrows and starlings) to either enter and steal the eggs or lay their eggs in the nest and have the other species of bird raise their young.
Birds Nesting Box Chart
Protection from Predators

While this information is useful it isn't an exact science. It will provide you with the help you need in determining what you need to do to attract birds to move into your yard and take up residency.

Now is a good time to either shop or build your birdhouses. If you place them outside in late winter/early spring before the spring migrating birds return from the south they have a good chance of checking them out and using them. In some species of birds the male returns to the north before the female and inspects some nesting sites before the female returns and then they build the nests together. Some birds build multiple nests in the same area.

My husband recently built the bird house in the picture to the left. It's quite large but doesn't appear that way because it's up so high on that tree. Because we have quite a few Red-bellied Woodpeckers (see previous post on More Feathered Friends), he decided to make the dimensions to house that bird.

This is how high
the box is located.

You can see how high up in the dead tree where he placed the box. This box will also be suited for the saw-whet owl.

Gourds (the red one pictured first on this blog) can be used by many birds depending on its location. These are very popular in the south when mounted high on a pole with several of the gourds lined up in a row. They will be used for Purple Martin colonies or bluebirds will use them too. We put up some in our back yard several years ago to attract the Purple Martins (because they eat several thousand mosquitoes each day) or bluebirds. We ended up having tree swallows use it for several years, but that's ok because they eat mosquitoes too. After they moved out we had the Great Crested Flycatcher use the same gourds for several years too. They eat bees. We didn't find out until later, but there was a bee hive that used one of the gourds and it was pretty convenient for the flycatchers because they moved in right next to their food supply. They usually look for abandoned woodpecker holes to nest in.

Purple Martins prefer a large open field area on the edge of a pond or lake. They don't like to be too close to any building (preferably at least 40' away). They nest in colonies so you would need a bird house that has at least 4 available rooms or gourds.

House wrens will use just about any available birdhouse if the entrance hole isn't too large.

The nesting box at right is made from PVC pipe. Wrens have nested in it.

Tree Swallows will use PVC nesting boxes. Bluebirds and house wrens have also used this type of house.

Tree Swallow using PVC bird house

This is a bird house (on left) for multiple birds that is located on the Oswego River at the lock in Phoenix, NY.

Shelf  box used by robins on pole barn

Phoebe nest constructed of moss on plant hanger under the roof of our barn.

Decorative birdhouses. Some birdhouses are just pretty and look great on your porch or as a decoration in your yard.

Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak on feeder.

Birdhouse mounted on PVC pipe.

This is the backside of a bird house that houses three separate nests (2 on left on one on right).

If you have birdhouses out from last year be sure to clean them out before spring.

Here are plans for constructing various birdhouses: Next Box Construction Plans
If you decide to build a birdhouse make sure it has ventilation and drainage holes in the box.

Hope you decide to add a birdhouse 
(or add another one) to your yard! 

Feel free to leave a comment. . .


  1. On my list of things to do. I love the acorn house!

    1. Thanks Kimberly. I love the acorn house, too. That one is a friend of mine and it was so cute that I wanted to post it on here.

  2. Sue I love the different houses. So many examples to consider for so many birds...I love this post!!

    1. Thanks Donna. Birdhouses can add a lot of color and beauty to your yard and if some birds use them then all the better. Chickadees and wrens will nest in just about any box.

  3. What a great selection of houses. I wish I had a place to put birdhouses, but don't have anything high enough. Birds here live in the ivy, deciduous trees and conifers. Wild Birds Unlimited has a sale this week where you fill a bag and get 25% off. I was thinking a birdhouse would be nice, but I only ever get wasps in mine.

    1. Thanks Donna. Yes, the birdhouses have to be fairly high to keep out cats and other predators. I'll have to check out that sale at Birds Unlimited. Thanks for the info.

  4. I love the birdhouses, especially the red one in the first photograph

    1. Thanks so much for your comments Claire. It's nice to have a little color this time of year so I thought I'd share these birdhouses with everyone. The red one is a gourd (and I'm not sure but it might be a swan gourd) and they make great birdhouses. They can be painted any color or even left natural.