Right House, Right Place
Species Specific Designs
Birdhouses that are designed for a specific type of songbird are available commercially. There are houses for bluebirds, wrens, purple martins and even for the ugly starling. They have the design features preferred by this particular type of songbird. Knowing which type of bird you wish to attract makes it easier to choose a birdhouse.
Choose a location for the birdhouse that is convenient for both you and the prospective tenants. Mount the house so it is easy to get to for cleaning but is protected from the hot noonday sun. Situate it so there is a clear flight path from the yard to its entrance. It helps to know what your target birds prefer in terms of neighborhood. Wrens are attracted to birdhouses placed fairly close to the ground near dense trees and shrubs. Chickadees and titmice like to nest in groves of large trees. Bluebirds opt for wide-open spaces--extensive lawns, golf courses, pastures and cemeteries. Purple martins and swallows like the same open spaces, as long as they are close to a river or pond and people.
Don't be discouraged if the birds don't use your birdhouse the first year. Nesting boxes are often more successful once they've had a chance to weather and the birds get used to their presence in the landscape. Songbirds are very territorial, especially when they are raising their young. While the territory for each type varies according the food supply in the area, it is generally wise not to put two houses for the same type of bird closer than 50 feet apart. Different species will occupy houses much closer than that.
Screw houses to posts. Do not use screws to mount boxes to living trees--they will injure the tree and the wood surrounding the screw will decay, allowing the box to work loose. Attach birdhouses to living trees with bungee cords or wire through a piece of hose and wrap the wire around the trunk.
Offering Nesting Materials
You may enjoy providing nesting materials for the new tenants in your birdhouses. They find a variety of materials useful for building nests. Cut them into three or four inch lengths and set them out in the yard. Wrens will also use twigs broken into three to four inch lengths. Collect thread and pieces of yarn and roll them in very loose balls. Hook the wad of thread over twigs and the birds will find them.
|Materials For Nesting|
|Bark||Excelsior||Down||Soft cloth strips|
|Unraveled rope||Dryer lint||*|