Right now in early spring 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. One of them is the Purple Martin and the monster of a bird house above is one that I put up with Ursula and my neighbors six years ago (read all about it here). It's from Lazy Hill Farm. 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. But, HEY, want something smaller??? Head below...
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
- Woodlink Wooden Bluebird House - $21.15
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."
- Window Nest Box Bird House - $18.99
A totally authorized birdhouse, I added this one because it allows you to see the whole lifecycle unfold through its plexiglass back. It's hard to believe that birds wouldn't be shy about this, but they aren't: "Mount this pine nest box at any window and watch the miracle of life unfold. 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."
- Hanging Grass Roosting Pocket - $19.99 for set of 2
I haven't tried these yet, but I love the way they look and how easy they are to hang: "They are especially beneficial to non-migrating songbirds in winter. The 100% organic reed grass pocket and cedar roof blend in naturally. Hang the pockets on tree limbs in a spot with ample branches and cover. The pockets have natural ventilation and drainage to make them last."
- Economy Eastern Bluebird House - $89.99 for 6
I just found this economy pack at less than $20 a house. Made of solid eastern pine, these are no frills houses that meet all the standards: "...must-have items for the conservation-minded, birding societies or even the passionate wild bird enthusiast. Proven bird-friendly features include predator guard, proper ventilation, drainage and insulation and easy-open side panel to boost nesting and hatching success."
- Woven Bamboo Birdhouse - $20
Sourced from Gardener's Supply Company, I like the shape of this house, in addition to its natural construction: "This attractive, teardrop-shaped birdhouse is woven from natural bamboo that sheds water while providing good ventilation. The 1-1/4" entrance hole is sized for common backyard birds like nuthatches, titmice and finches. Built-in hanging loop."
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."
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."
- Chalet Bird House - $40
For the whimsical ones out there, I wanted to include a link to this very lovely house as well as to YardEnvy.com in general, because they have a really nice assortment of houses. "The Chalet Bird House is designed for use by a large variety of backyard birds including Wren, Finch, Downy Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Swallow. Decorative bird houses bring an aesthetic quality to any yard or landscape, and are fully functional and intended for outdoor use."