Many bird enthusiasts will buy a birdhouse from their local store, only to find out later that no birds are being drawn to it. Bird watchers sometimes think they should buy a birdhouse based on how it looks on the outside, considering that it will go with their landscaping. Most of the time, these birdhouses don’t have the particular features and specifications required by birds for nesting. Follow these tips to ensure that your birdhouse will actually attract birds once you have installed it.
There are three main measurements you should consider when thinking about size:
- Entrance hole – The most common hole size is about 1-1.5 inches wide and it serves most songbirds well. The small size also keeps away non-native birds such as starlings and house sparrows. The size of the opening will depend on the bird species you hope to draw. Research on the minimum opening you should have for that species.
- Floor – Birds should have a certain amount of floor space for nesting and to allow their hatchlings to grow. Smaller songbirds like nuthatches, titmice, chickadees and wrens can use 4×4” of floor space. Larger birds will need more space. Again, research depending on the species in your area and the ones you want to attract.
- Entrance height – This is the height from the bottom of the birdhouse to the entrance hole, and it’s an important consideration because birds will want to keep their eggs and hatchlings from the reach of predators. For many species, the height should be no less than 5 inches.
- Heating and cooling
Just like your own house, your birdhouse should be properly ventilated to allow heat to escape in the summer, and it should have thick walls for heat preservation during winter. Your ideal birdhouse should have an opening or slit at the top on one or both sides to allow hot air out.
Most birdhouse for sale expertsadvise that wood is a better material for making birdhouses than metal, particularly for insulation purposes. Wood doesn’t heat up too much in summer and doesn’t lose heat as easily in winter. You should find thicknesses of 0.75 inches or more. Ceramic and clay birdhouses will not be suitable for winter, but they offer good heat protection in the summer.
Ensure that your birdhouse has drain holes drilled at the bottom to remove water. This is essential to ensure that bacteria and mold don’t multiply. In addition, you need the roof to overhang for at least 1-2 inches to prevent rain from coming in through the entrance hole. This also helps to shade the house on hot days.
Finally, you must make sure that your birds are protected from predators by installing some safety features.
- Don’t install perches on the side of the entrance. It may look pretty, but it gives predators and invasive species something to hold on to near the entry hole.
- Mount the nest box on a thin pole, which is harder to climb than a tree trunk.
- Some houses have a metallic bracket around the entrance hole to keep invasive animals like squirrels from gnawing to enlarge the hole. You can also install a predator guard, which is a thick wooden pole similar in diameter to the entrance hole. This way, predators can’t access the actual hole so easily.