Right now as the birds all fly north again it's the best time to put up or refresh your bird houses so that you can make sure YOUR yard or rooftop or field or woods is full of birds this next year. While most North American birds choose to nest in tree branches and shrubs, there are more than three dozen species that prefer a natural cavity or hole, such as a bird house provides. Here's our annual guide. Enjoy and tell me your faves!
Choosing The Right Birdhouse
"Some of the most common backyard birds that use houses are chickadees, titmice, bluebirds and wrens. But you can attract other species depending on what kind of habitat you have in or near your yard—and the kind of box you put up. But first, you want to make sure you’re choosing a box that will help, not harm, your tenants."
Desirable nesting box features include:
- Thick walls constructed of untreated wood for insulation.
- Holes for ventilation and drainage.
- An extended and sloped roof to keep out the rain.
- A baffle to keep out raccoons, snakes, house cats and other predators that steal eggs and chicks. (One of the best baffles is made from a length of stovepipe.)
More via The National Wildlife Federation
This house will wake up your view. With a long history of advertising itself, Rock City in Georgia launched a trend by painting See Rock City on barn for miles in every direction. When Clark Byers decided to build and plant Rock City mail boxes in 1936, the US Postal Service blocked his efforts and he turned them into bird houses.
There are many, many grass house designs and they are all inexpensive. A great way to get started and super attractive in your yard or out your window, you can check out more here.
Want to see in? Here's a classic pine bird house that backs into your window, allowing you to keep an eye on your fine feathered friends: "This clear-view house features a removable Plexiglas back that mounts by suction cups for easy installation and cleanout. Its deep design, lack of perches, and small entry help deter predators from reaching the eggs."
This unique bamboo design caught my attention. The teardrop shape would be an awesome "design moment" out your back window. Especially for nuthatches, titmice and finches.
This stunning little nesting pocket is made out of seagrass mounted under a wooden roof and frame to give it a longer life.
From the National Wildlife Federation, I like the dark recycled plastic in an unusual shape. Especially for Wrens and Chickadees!
From Drs. Foster and Smith, this is a great bulk buy of classic bluebird houses for @ $15 each. Simple design and a great testamonial: "When I purchased the 6 pack of blue bird houses I was expecting to maybe have birds nesting in a couple of the houses by the end of the season... BUT within the 1st hour of putting them up I had a pair of birds going in and out of 1 of the houses with a nest built in a day or so.I checked the boxes 3 weeks after I have birds in 4 of the 5, that I have put up.."
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I've been buying birdhouses for a few years and am enjoying overdoing it. To make sure I don't break the bank, I've been buying this very solid, not too expensive, best selling birdhouse at Amazon. "This ornithologically correct, traditional style Woodlink Bluebird House is designed specifically for bluebirds. Constructed of durable re-forested, kiln dried, inland red cedar it is both weather resistant and insect repelling. Assembled with rust resistant zinc chromate screws (not nails) to withstand temperature changes."
A nesting shelf is a lovely alternative design that appeals to birds that don't build in houses: "Some birds such as robins, phoebes, barn swallows, wrens and doves prefer building their nests on a nesting shelf—they won't use a traditional, enclosed birdhouse. And these birds are great to have in your yard because they eat so many bugs!"
If you want to get away from the traditional wood house designs, these Eco Eggs are made entirely out of bamboo, come in four colors and will decompose in four to five years.
Leave it to Terrain to nail the cuteness factor with the birch bark house: "Hand-crafted from natural birch logs, this traditional house welcomes feathered friends with rustic style and a lifting cover for easy cleaning."
Other Good Resources:
- National Wildlife Federation Bird Houses
- Wildbeaks Birdhouses
- Best Selling Bird Houses - Amazon
- Duncraft - Wild Bird Superstore
- Mass Audubon - About Birdhouses
This is a landmark, not just a birdhouse. Here's the monster of a bird house that I put up with Ursula and my neighbors six years ago (read all about it here). It's a Lazy Hill Farm design. I put it up at my mother's house in Springs, New York, and it is a veritable beacon for everyone, including birds. Purple Martins love to nest in company, so you will find their houses always have multiple rooms.
Check out this huge purple martin house that you can paint yourself. Made with poly roofs that are more durable and red cedar that is rot proof, it's designed keep out owls AND "all Sections Open in the Front Allowing You to Care for Newly Hatched Babies Without Disturbing the Older Babies. No Door Lips, Designed For Proper Clean Outs." You can keep it clean. :)
From Heath in Coopersville, Michigan, I had one of these affordable purple martin houses as a kid. Made of powder coated aluminum, this house is built in sections and the price above is for 18 rooms and three floors. You can go down to one floor or up to four floors as well: "Front panels open for easy access and cleaning. Starling resistant entrance holes. Guard rails to protect young martins. Constructed of rust-free heat-dispensing aluminum. Sturdy construction for years of use."
You can start really cheaply with a single gourd birdhouse, but I just wanted to show you the top of the line. Natural gourds are dried out, cut and scraped out and then painted to hang as natural purple martin birdhouses. They are stunning from afar.
If you want to get grand and play with Purple Martins, here's another gorgeous house; "The large format of our "Clubhouse Birdhouse" that is inspired by the classic Southern Plantation style Clubhouse at golf's most famous site. Many Martin families will nest in style in this fully functional house constructed of exterior grade plyboard and pine shingled roof."