Birdhouses: When and Where

Birdhouses: When and Where
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Birdhouses: When and Where

Birdhouses: When and Where

You’ve bought or built a new birdhouse, and you want to bring those singing lovelies into your garden.

You might have bought the most expensive birdhouse, or maybe, you’ve built your aviating pals a top-o’-the-line birdie townhouse. For the birds, it’s just like the old real estate adage– the three most important things in selling real estate are, “location, location, location.”

Of course, timing matters too. The house is for a nest, the nest is for eggs, and eggs only happen in the springtime. The best time to place your birdhouse is late winter to early spring, before the birdies meet their mates. But don’t stress if you’re a little behind, because there are plenty of reasons to go ahead and hang that house any time of the year.

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First of all, young males may take longer to find their first mate, so those couples will be nesting later. Second, some birds are going to have more than one nest of chicks, and even if they don’t, Mama Bird may just move if she likes your house better. Your birdhouse will also be a good shelter in the colder months for those birds that do not migrate.

The specifics of birdhouse placement depend on the species you are targeting, because some species are looking for a very particular arrangement. There are birders who know all of this information, but I prefer to generalize, which maximizes my potential of getting a new resident in the birdhouse!

Here are tips for making your backyard the permanent residence of insect-gobbling, sweet-singing, beautiful birds:

  • Place the birdhouse about 6-12 feet above the ground. Hanging them on metal or PVC poles secured about 18” into the ground will the best way to defend against predators.
  • If you are hanging your birdhouse on a tree, you may want to fix a piece of aluminum around the trunk below the birdhouse to deter potential egg-thieving villains.
  • Never hang your nesting house near birdbaths or feeders because the patrons of those facilities may not be so friendly to your nesting family.
  • Make sure there is a tree or shrub for Mama Bird to perch on near the nest.
  • Point the birdhouse away from the winds of summer that might direct rain into the nest.
  • If you live in a warmer area, face the birdhouse north or east to avoid over-heating in the hot summer sunshine.

To attract birds to your yard and increase the chances that your birdhouse could become a bird’s home, there are a few ways to enhance your garden and make it more “bird-friendly”:

  • Feed the birds with a birdfeeder or with fruit trees and shrubs.

  • Try to minimize your use of pesticides, which are not only dangerous for the birds, but also destroy a large part of their food supply.

  • Install a birdbath or a pond with a waterfall. Be sure there is a very shallow area where smaller birds can perch without immersing their bodies in the water. (Build up one or two sections of the bath or pond with pebbles all the way to the top, out of the water.

Hosting families of birds in the garden is one of the best pleasures we know, and you can make your landscape a safe and appealing residence for many of your favorite species by putting up nesting houses and providing year-round sources of food, water, and shelter.