You have thought about it for a long time, checked with your bird watching friends. Also, you did your research online. Finally, you are ready: it is time to buy your first birdhouse. The problem is… you have no or little knowledge of birdhouse selection and you are not sure what kind of birdhouse you should buy.
First notions: do not choose at random. As soon as you walk into a store, salespeople will probably want to make you dizzy. “Buy this one, you get a 20% discount! Choose that one, it is our most beautiful and expensive model”. But, no! You should not look for a birdhouse because it is cheap or nice (however, if it is, much better!). Concentrate on finding one that suits your needs.
But… is it really your needs that should be met? Not at all, although the observer also matters! The type of birdhouse you should buy is the one that suits 100% the tastes and requirements of the type of bird you want to attract.
Does that mean that each bird has a different taste? Well, yes. You still have a lot to learn. But do not worry! We are here to fix that. Find a cold drink and make yourself comfortable, as today you will learn to identify what kind of birdhouse you should buy.
Select the Bird First before buying Birdhouse
Choosing a bird does not always depend on what you like. You may be a bluebird fan, or as you love Harry Potter, you may want to have your yard full of owls.
The truth is that the supply of bird species you can attract will always be limited. Each type of climate or ecosystem has bird species that are much easier or harder to attract than others. This has a lot to do with the type of foliage, temperatures and the presence of other predatory species.
The birdhouse you should buy is the one that attracts the attention of the type of birds common in your area. That will increase your chances of attracting many more birds. After all, no matter how much muggle or wizard blood you have, there will be no owls in your yard if there are none in the area.
Using technology to our advantage
For example, according to Avibase, The World Bird Database, some of the most common birds in the United States are: American Robins, Dark-eyed Junco, Mallards, Chipping Sparrow. This varies according to each State or region, but we can find them scattered, generally, throughout the country.
A very different thing happens in India, to play with extreme examples. According to this same source, some of the most common are: Mynas, Tailorbirds, Coppersmith Barbet, Barn Owls… and the list goes on!
The truth is that each area has different species, and we must use that to our advantage. You can always check online databases (such as Avibase, for example) to help you identify what types of birds should be your target. So that you can buy the right birdhouse.
Birdhouse dimensions requirements
Well, now that we know what kind of bird we are going to attract to our birdhouses, it is time to start the fun part: shopping! But… not so fast. Save your money, as you are not yet ready to choose the type of birdhouse you should buy.
Nothing too big, but nothing too small. That is the key. Take this into account when you start to see the different options. Whether for safety or comfort, each bird has specific nesting preferences.
Check out our Article on the list of Birdhouse Dimensions for more than 30 Bird Species.
If the birdhouse is too big, the bird may be intimidated. Or even worse, it is endangered by the visit of predators or territorial birds much larger than it. And on the other hand, if the birdhouse is very small, the bird may not feel comfortable or even be able to make its nest there.
Not to mention the weight of the bird that will live there. If the birdhouse is large but not ready to house heavy birds (because you had initially prepared it for smaller species) then it may fall down. The birds and the chicks could be seriously injured or even killed on the spot.
In any case, the birdhouse for which you tried hard to buy will be uninhabited and you will have lost your money.
In the commercial area (without going into detail with custom models), you can buy birdhouses ranging from 20cm high to 45cm high.
One of the things we do not usually check when choosing a birdhouse is precisely the floor. We pay attention to the outside, to the material, whether it is painted or not, whether it has drain holes, whether the inlet hole is appropriate… but not many notices the floor, despite how important it is.
The floor of a suitable birdhouse must meet two fundamental requirements:
The Birdhouse Floor area should be according to the bird which you are inviting. Every bird has its own recommended birdhouse area and this requirement must be met for better nesting success.
We know that there is nothing more beautiful and elegant than well-sanded wood. We also know that splinters and rough wood can hurt human skin… but, unlike humans, birds like it. For them, it is much easier to walk on a rough ground. Their paws can cling more easily.
Remember that, in nature, bird nests are made of branches and leaves. These branches are rough textured and allow the chicks to hold on more easily.
But the birdhouse floor would anyways be covered with nesting material from the inside but still, a rough floor is chosen as the favorite for birds.
Chicks, chicks. When it comes to chicks, you have to be very careful. They are very small and fragile creatures. You cannot touch them, because otherwise, their mother will reject them. So, the best thing you can do for them is to provide them with a safe space.
One of the most common mistakes in poorly made birdhouses is the use of too long nails. This kind of mistake poses a great danger to both chicks and adult birds. The reason? Think about it carefully. If the nails are too long, it may have a sharp end at the inside of the birdhouse and is likely to hurt or even kill your birds.
Make sure the birdhouse you buy does not have any of these nails. Properly check the birdhouse for the inside.
The birdhouse which you are buying should have drainage holes in the floor. This is because if water enters the birdhouse due to any reason then it can drain through the holes and keep the nest dry.
Another benefit of providing drainage holes is that it helps in ventilation and allows your birdhouse to breathe and keeps the air circulating. Beside these holes in the bottom floor, you birdhouse should also have some air vents in the side walls (Air wents are just small holes in the side walls for air circulation, Make sure there is no path for water to enter the birdhouse).
If your birdhouse doesn’t have any drainage holes, then don’t worry. You can yourself drill these hole into your birdhouse floor using a drill bit.
Have you ever seen a roofless home? Certainly not. There is the saying ‘My roof, my rules’. However, in the case of birdhouses, roofs are equally important.
The roof of the perfect birdhouse must be able to move the water so that it does not seep into the nest or accumulate on top. It must also be strong enough to protect your birds from predators.
To meet all these requirements, your birdhouse roof needs specific features. First of all, it is very important that the roof is tilted. It may fall from the center to the sides or back to front. In addition, it must be made of a waterproof material that prevents leakage.
In the market, you will find several models that have a tin bar, aluminum or similar material used to build roofs. This is done for the purpose of protecting it, making it stronger and more waterproof. Make sure that the surface of the metal is shiny so that it won’t heat up in the sun. You can also paint your birdhouse roof with a white color.
However, be very careful with this type of material! Abusing it can cause your birdhouse to get too hot. To counteract this, nothing beats a good design with adequate ventilation.
Bird House Entrance Hole
Since forever, many species in the animal kingdom have used this resource to protect themselves from potential hazards. Generally, when we build a door to a house or lair of a tight size, we do so for a single purpose: to limit entry. After all, the big animal eats the small one. That is how nature works.
About the size
You should think similarly when buying the perfect birdhouse for you. On your trip through the store, choose one that has an entry hole that is as tight as possible to the bird you want to attract.
This way, the birdhouse you buy will be safe for your bird, as it will restrict the passage of other larger birds or dangerous predators.
Imagine that you are preparing birdhouses for some forest wastelands where sparrows are present. These, as you can imagine, are much stronger and will take over all the spaces.
To guarantee a space for your birds, you can buy or build some birdhouses with 26mm (1 inch ) diameter entry holes. However, you can install others with 32mm (1.3 inches) diameter entries, to leave some room for sparrows as well.
You can check out our article on the recommended entrance sizes for more than 30 birds species.
About the height
Size is not everything. It applies to food, to countries, to life! But, above all, it applies to the entry holes of the birdhouses.
When buying a birdhouse, you must take into account the height of the entrance hole. Consider the height of the bird that will live in there. Remember that the main reason birds settle in a birdhouse is to nest. In a couple of weeks, there will be little chicks there. Little chicks that must be able to leave the box to practice their flight.
Make sure your birdhouse has a hole low enough to allow them to get out. Or, if not, have a kind of cue or step to help the chicks reach the hole without problems.
Other requirements your birdhouse must meet
Good! Now we are one step closer to this perfect birdhouse waiting for you at the store. But first, you must know that not everything is about dimensions. In addition to what we have already mentioned, there are other aspects to consider to help you find the birdhouse you are looking for.
We recommend that you write down this list on a piece of paper and check that each of your candidates meets these requirements.
We have a complete detailed article on birdhouse requirements. You are encouraged to check it out if you want to learn more.
Let’s talk about how the rain and winds are going to reach the inside of your birdhouse, no matter how hard you try not to. Let’s remember once again that these little houses are going to be outside, at the mercy of nature. That is why the birdhouse you should buy is the one with a functional drainage system.
When shopping, make sure your birdhouse has at least four holes in the ground. That way, you will be able to prevent fluids from building up inside it. It will be useful not only for your birds but also to yourself when you go to clean the birdhouse, once its inhabitants evacuate it.
Birdhouses must be as safe as possible for the bird. Just as we want to keep predators away from the nest, it is necessary to protect the chicks from falling. So, as you can see, there are not too many holes. Only the necessary ones.
This often causes a birdhouse to get too hot inside when it is not well designed. To avoid that, make sure the birdhouse you buy is properly ventilated.
Before you buy, make sure the model you want has two or more holes in the front or side walls. Preferably located at the height of the entry hole.
Access door for cleaning
The birdhouse you buy should not only be comfortable for your birds, but for you too! Before you decide on one or the other, make sure it has a good access door. This is used both to clean the inside of the birdhouse after your guests have left, and to keep an eye inside and observe the nesting process.
This access door is especially necessary for researchers and observers, who need to have an easy, comfortable and safe way for the bird to access the inside of the birdhouse.
There are many different proposals on the market for the best material to build a birdhouse. Over the years, we have seen manufacturers go from wood to cement, from cement to metal, and what can we say about that? There is no limit to creativity.
What is certain is this: no matter how many new materials manufacturers have invented, so far there is no one that overthrows wood. It is flexible, natural, easy to work with and very resistant. With a good varnish, it can withstand anything in the open.
However, as many will know, water and wood are not exactly best friends. Although there is no better material for a birdhouse than wood, you have to be very careful with water. Experts always recommend using pine or poplar wood for this type of construction.
Should be easily mounted
No one wants to have complications with the installation, do they? We want it to be fast and efficient. So, when buying the right birdhouse, make sure it is easy to install, whatever the type.
When it comes to birdhouses, keep in mind that there are two basic ways to install them. Both have their pros and cons, and you will have to be smart and choose the one that best suits your case.
This type of installation is ideal when you live in an area where wind gusts constantly make their way. A birdhouse nailed to a tree, for example, can be the most stable and comfortable home for your birds.
However, do not rush to decide. While it is more stable, it is also more dangerous. After all, it makes it easier for various predators to access. Cats and squirrels, mostly.
If the perfect birdhouse is not nailed down… it has to be hung! Right? Well… it depends. Certainly, birdhouses hanging from a branch or pole tend to be safer for our birds. However, you will end up sacrificing the great stability of a nailed birdhouse.
That means that if it is a rainy or windy day, your birdhouse will shake a lot, and maybe your birds will not like that.
Before choosing which type of birdhouse you should buy, consider what is most needed for you: protection against predators or stability against heavy blizzards.
Should have no Perch
It is very important to buy a birdhouse that has no perch. Actually birds like the sit on the perch beside the birdhouse and navigate the surroundings but this can also be deadly to you sweet little guests that it can provide an easy entrance to the birdhouse. The predator’s birds can use the perch as a support to get access into the birdhouse. This is the main reason that perches are not recommended for a birdhouse.
If the birdhouse which you bought has a perch make sure to remove it before mounting your birdhouse in your backyard.
Type of birdhouse you can buy
You must be thinking: a birdhouse is just a birdhouse! However, it is not as simple as it sounds. Although each manufacturer establishes different categories and shapes for its products, there are two main groups into which they can be classified: the birdhouses, and the nesting shelves.
They are the ones we already know, the ones we have been seeing all along. We recognize and differentiate them from nesting shelves because they are closed. The birds enter their interior through a hole of a size adjusted to their needs, to protect them from possible predators.
They also usually have one or two side doors. These are the form of access to the caregiver, observer or scientist to the bird, who cleans, photographs or takes notes.
Birdhouses are the ideal type of home for certain species of birds: owls, some species of wrens, bluebirds, sparrows, etc.
Their name makes them a little obvious, don’t you think? This type of birdhouse is much less closed. It has no front wall, to begin with. It consists of a small roof that protects the bird, side walls (which are often almost semi-walls) and a firm floor for the bird to build its nest on.
They certainly may seem a little more attractive to predators. After all, there is no wall or small access door to protect the bird. However, many birds prefer this type of birdhouse. It has a lot to do with the comfort of entry, to bring materials for your nests or the possibility of getting fresh air.
Many species of birds prefer nesting shelves over birdhouses: American Robins are among the most common and popular fans of them. However, we find other species such as the Phoebes, Barn Swallows, and Mourning Doves, which are much more comfortable nesting in them.
Have you bought your birdhouse?
Welcome to this adventure! Now that you have chosen a birdhouse that is perfect for you, you are part of this club. But do not worry, we do not intend to abandon you so soon! We want to make this space an enriching place for other readers and bird lovers.
So, what are you waiting for! leave a comment? We want to know your history, your experiences and that you share with us all those tips to have beautiful groups of birds in your yard.
See you in the next post!