Millions of people all around the world appreciate being able to watch birds fly about in their backyards. From the gorgeous songs that some of the birds sing to the beautiful colors that some birds display, there is something to love about having wildlife in your backyard.
If you are interested in encouraging this type of wildlife to stay, one of the best things that you can do is build birdhouses for the property, so that the birds have places to sleep, stay, and nest when the time comes. Building a birdhouse is fairly simple, once you know what to look for and where to begin.
What Are the Best Materials to Build a Birdhouse From?
Before you even start thinking about the appearance, size, and style of birdhouse that you want, you are first going to want to evaluate the best materials for the job. In part, some of the materials you will need will depend on the type of birdhouse you are attempting to make. For example, a birdhouse that is attached to a tree needs a thick, sturdy support beam while birdhouses that are held up by a pole will not.
There is a good reason why almost all of the birdhouses that you see are made out of wood. It is one of the best materials for the job. Metal does not insulate heat well during the winter, and plastic is unreliable for the same reasons. The best types of wood to get include cedar, pine, redwood, and cypress.
These woods are naturally resistant to decay, especially brought on by weather, making them a good material to use for an outdoor birdhouse that will be exposed to the elements. Ideally, you should go with untreated wood, but you can find water-based exterior paints (make sure they are lead-free) to keep them water-resistant. You can also stain the wood brown or dark-green for camouflage purposes.
How Big Should the Birdhouse Be?
This is where you should begin thinking about the types of birds you want to cater toward. The exact size of the birdhouse will depend on the types of birds you are hoping will nest in it. There are several other factors to consider for size that are related to the type of bird you wish to arrive, such as the size of the bird’s brood and the size of fledgling birds.
Depending on the species of bird that you wish to house on your property, the total height of the birdhouse, accounting for the thickness of the wood, can range from 6 to 24 inches in height. The average floorspace that you should consider also varies widely, ranging from having a 4 x 4-inch square to having a 10 x 18-inch rectangle.
The size of the birdhouse is important, so one thing that you will have to consider is the thickness of the birdhouse walls. These measurements can add up to two inches more to the overall size of the birdhouse. Getting the right thickness of wood is important, not only for the sake of durability but also for the sake of safety, weather protection, and insulation. At minimum, the wood should be three quarters of an inch thick.
Should the Birdhouse Be Connected to Food or Water?
You do not necessarily have to connect food and water to a birdhouse to make it appealing to passing birds. In fact, the large and bulky addition of a connected food and water station, combined with the fact that you are going to have to approach the birdhouse to refill it, can actually drive birds away from the birdhouse. This is because they will see this interaction as a potential danger, and no bird wants to build a nest when a potential predator passes by regularly.
Instead, if you wish to attract birds to your birdhouse, you will want to consider simply putting a few seeds inside the house. As birds forage for their food, they will naturally come across the food inside of the birdhouse. Once the bird is inside, the bird will notice that the birdhouse is a suitable place for a nest, and if you are lucky, this means you will soon have a bird nesting there.
How Large Should the Entrance to the Birdhouse Be?
When you are getting ready to build the birdhouse, you will want to make sure that you actually have an entrance for the birds. The size of this entrance will be wholly and entirely dependent on the type of bird you are planning to house, so the best thing that you can do is search for a birdhouse hole size chart to get a good grasp on averages and what specific birds may need.
In general, there are two main measurements to keep in mind. You will need to consider the diameter of the hole, which will determine if it is large enough for the bird to enter. You will need to consider the inches between the floor of the house and the hole, which determines how much space the bird will have to nest without feeling cramped.
On average, the diameter of a birdhouse entrance ranges between one inch to six inches. Some birds do not benefit from having a hole as an entrance and would rather prefer a shelf-like birdhouse instead. These birdhouses have three sides and an open-faced front and are usually more hidden away for the bird’s comfort.
Where Should Birdhouses Be Placed Outdoors?
Different birds are going to enjoy different areas more. This is another reason why you should have a good sense of which species of bird you are planning on catering toward. More often than not, birds will be satisfied as long as the location is out of the reach of predators, keeps the birds safe from heavy wind and rain, and does not attract unwanted attention.
What this means is that most birds are going to be satisfied with a birdhouse that is attached to a tree. Some birds prefer different heights above the ground to feel comfortable. These heights can range from being 4 to 30 feet off the ground. Some birds are aquatic, meaning they would want their birdhouse to be located on a tree above water.
The best place for a birdhouse may also vary depending on your local weather. For instance, if you live in an area that experiences frequent rain or snow, birdhouses should be placed in highly sheltered areas. If you live in an area that experiences swelteringly hot weather, birdhouses should be placed in areas that receive the most shade. As a rule of thumb, the more concealment the better, though some birds such as bluebirds and purple martins prefer the opposite.
How Can You Make Birdhouses More Appealing for Birds?
Now that you have a good sense of what goes into a birdhouse, you can begin thinking about design features. While you may want the birdhouse to be a beautiful piece of work on your property, you should stay mindful of what is appealing in the bird’s eye, rather than your own.
The best example of this is colors. Bright, lavish colors may look nice in your backyard, but this tends to ward off birds as the area may attract unwanted attention from other animals and potentially people. Instead, you should aim for the house to be camouflaged in with the surrounding colors. Some species also prefer different styles of birdhouse, with some birds appreciating birdhouses that resemble apartment complexes that can house numerous families and other birds wanting their birdhouse all to themselves.
Building a birdhouse can be a wonderfully enjoyable project to take on yourself, with friends, or even with your family. However, there is a fair amount of research involved if you want to make sure that you are bringing the right birds to your yard.
Knowing what type of bird you are making the house for can help you determine a number of different factors including the size of the birdhouse, the size of the entrance, the height above the ground, and the type of birdhouse you build. It never hurts to do more research than you need, especially when it can bring your favorite birds to your yard as permanent residents.