Add a birdhouse to your yard

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Installing a birdhouse is an easy way to attract more birds to your yard, since over 50 different species of birds in North America will make their nests in birdhouses. Birdhouses also encourage the continuation of bird populations in heavily developed areas where natural nesting places are scarce.

Birdhouse Basics

Different species of birds prefer different types of birdhouses, but most birds like to occupy a birdhouse with a single compartment and one entrance. A wood birdhouse is the most common type, but to coordinate with landscaping materials, you may prefer a decorative birdhouse made from ceramic, concrete or plastic materials. Metal is a poor choice for a birdhouse, as it becomes so hot in the summertime that the temperature inside can actually kill the birds. A good birdhouse design will include:

  • A slanted roof for protection from the elements
  • An entrance hole of the proper size for the intended species of bird
  • Ventilation, which can be as simple as a few holes drilled under the eaves
  • Drainage, such as a small hole in the floor of the house
  • A way to open the birdhouse for monitoring and cleaning

Build Your Own Birdhouse

A basic wooden birdhouse or bird feeder is fairly easy to build. Birdhouse plans are readily available from pet and bird stores; free birdhouse plans can be found online at a large number of websites. Cedar, redwood and exterior plywood are all good choices for birdhouse materials; you should make sure the inside surfaces have not been treated with preservatives or wood stains. Follow the birdhouse blueprints carefully to ensure that your birdhouse will withstand the seasonal elements year after year.

A simpler variation of building a homemade birdhouse is to use birdhouse kits, which can be found at hobby and bird stores as well as through online suppliers. A kit should contain both a birdhouse plan and the materials necessary to assemble the birdhouse. Natural gourds can also make attractive and functional birdhouses.

Although it might be tempting to paint the exterior of the birdhouse in bright colors, green or gray are better color choices as they don't attract predators. Another good choice for the exterior is to use natural linseed oil, which is completely bird-safe.

Birdhouse Location

Smaller birdhouses are best erected using free-standing PVC or metal poles; these allow you to control the height and are difficult for predators to climb. Birdhouses should be spaced at least 25 feet apart, since most bird species are territorial.