From the paint you decide to cover the birdhouse to the material it is made of, from the smallest details to the most striking ones, there are some features of a bad birdhouse.
Uncomfortable young birds inside the nest, birds intoxicated with paint or roasted by the heat, or even devoured by a predator! Anything could go wrong if you do not consider what features a birdhouse should not have.
Are you a newbie birdwatcher and you do not know what to do? Or are you wondering if you have ever screwed up? Do not panic! Although you should be careful, it is not that hard. The first thing you should know is that a birdhouse should not have anything that would jeopardize the safety of your birds.
We want you to be clear about this so that you and your birds can stay calm. So, pay attention because we bring you a list of the features of a bad birdhouse. Here we go!
Heavily Painted Birdhouse
We know, you like to have lots of little houses where different species of birds can make their nests. We also understand that sometimes you want birdhouses to be more “beautiful” to give a certain style to your patio.
A birdhouse is not exactly a decorative piece, but a pleasant space for birds to make their nests. However, there are many models of birdhouses painted in all colors. In fact, there are designs on the market for almost any theme you can imagine. You could even paint a birdhouse to give it a more real or natural look.
But do you really need to paint a birdhouse? Is it good for our friends with wings? The point is that birds will make their nests in a space that meets their needs. But you, as the guardian of birds, should know that in this case, less is more.
An overpainted birdhouse can have negative consequences for our feathered guests, including death!
Very bright colors or bold tones like metallic or fluorescent may seem very pretty to humans, they look pretty, but they also attract predators! So, it is definitely something your birdhouse should not have.
On the other hand, dark colors absorb sunlight and that makes the birdhouse much hotter and more suffocating when the temperature rises.
You will also need to avoid lead-based paints or creosote at all costs because they are toxic to birds. If these are the only options at hand, it is best not to paint the birdhouse, you do not want to poison the birds! But if you really, really want to paint your birdhouse you should not take it lightly. Pay attention to our recommendations.
What should you do?
You can use latex or eco-friendly paints, but be careful! When painting, make sure that the paint does not accidentally seal the drainage or ventilation holes that are super necessary for the birdhouse to be safe. (The ventilation hole are small holes at the side and the bottom of the birdhouse to maintain an air flow inside the birdhouse).
A birdhouse with a white painted exterior is perfect for Purple Martins because it does not absorb sunlight and keeps the inside of the birdhouse cooler. (Check out the article on why should you paint a Purple Martin Birdhouse with white Color). For other species, you can try neutral colors such as brown, grey or matt green to camouflage the birdhouse.
And above all, remember, do not paint the inside of the birdhouse! The young birds may peck at the surface and ingest small splinters of toxic paint.
Generic entrance holes
The entrance hole is a very important part of a birdhouse. It is the way to get into the house! Can you imagine the entrance to your house being too low or too narrow? What if the door to your living room were big enough to let a truck through? Would that make sense to you? Not for the birds either.
Always remember that the ideal birdhouse is the one that best suits the needs of the species you want to attract – do not you know which one you want to attract? Aw, we understand it, but improvisation is a sin for the birds.
You can check out our article on “Birdhouse Dimensions” which will give you information on the birdhouse dimensions including the hole sizes for many different birds.
When in doubt, investigate! The size of the entrance hole is one of the features that will define what type of birds will use the birdhouse. Although some species have similar tastes, the needs of each bird can be very special and specific. So, choosing a generic size hole for a birdhouse is a big mistake. We will explain why.
Too big or too small?
It is actually very simple, but it is also very important. A hole that is too small can make your birdhouse unattractive to all species – would you feel comfortable hitting your head every time you enter the house? Well, a fraction of an inch could make the difference between getting in comfortably or getting stuck and hurting your feathers.
On the other hand, a hole that is too big can attract unwanted species of birds or is even perfect for totally different occupants, such as cats, squirrels, snakes or raccoons, and we do not want any kind of predators!
In addition to predators, keep in mind that a hole that is too big can make the parent birds feel so insecure that they leave the nest and their little birds in it. Do you really want to be the one to blame for that?
Definitely, a generic sized hole is a great NO for a birdhouse. Take the time to find out the preferences of the birds you want to attract and find out what the ideal dimensions are. Here we help you.
Hole sizes for each bird
1 inch to 1.5 inches
The beautiful bluebirds and tree swallows feel secure with an entrance of one and a half inches in diameter. While other species such as the saithe, the creeper, and the wren have enough space with a hole of one and a quarter inches in diameter.
2 to 3 inches
If you want to attract house finches, you will need a two-inch hole. While Purple Martins and flickers need only half an inch more than they do. And the friendly sparrows will be satisfied with a comfortable 3-inch diameter entrance.
Now we are talking about bigger dimensions (literally), because we are talking about bigger birds. The mystical owls, for example, will be comfortable with a wide six-inch entry! Come on, they deserve it too.
Now you know a little more about the ideal dimensions of each birdhouse and you know why you should not use a generic size hole, you have no excuse for having this bad feature in your birdhouse!
Birdhouse with or without perch?
Do you know what is Birdhouse Perch? Well! let me tell you. This is a small horizontal stick nailed to the front side of the birdhouse which will allow the birds to sit on the Perch before entering the birdhouse. Bird love birdhouses with perch it allows them to enter the birdhouse easily and birds love to sit on Perch and monitor the surrounding before entering the birdhouse.
All right, we do not blame you if you ever thought about having or even bought a birdhouse with a perch. They are so popular!
Imagine the cute little bird that lives in your birdhouse leaning on that stick under the entrance hole, singing, watching the area around it or stopping just before entering with nesting material for its future young. Beautiful, isn’t it?
Now imagine this. A squirrel, a raccoon, and a cat want to reach inside your birdhouse with perch and attack the little birds there. Which one can do it? Anyone of them! Because that little stick under the hole served as a support to get inside your birdhouse. It is not so beautiful anymore, is it?
He thinks that, although a perch looks nice, it is not really necessary for birds. It also makes it easier for predators to work. So, for the sake of feathered friends, a perch is something a birdhouse should not have. After all, let’s remember that the visually appealing is not always the most comfortable or safe thing to do.
What should you do now? should you but a birdhouse with a perch. Well! It is recommended to use a birdhouse with perch for smaller birds i.e. Birds which has a hole diameter of only one inch. This is because the diameter of the bird is so small that other predatory birds and animals cannot get access to the inside of the birdhouse.
A poorly built birdhouse
Imagine that you live in an ugly house, without doors or windows, terribly hot, which also floods when it rains and whose walls are constantly coming apart. Not only would it be a movie nightmare, it would put your life at risk.
No one finds it pleasant to feel uncomfortable and insecure in their own home, not even the birds! A poorly built birdhouse will keep away winged guests who want to make their nests, so it is definitely a bad idea.
Building a birdhouse is very simple and can be accomplished in up to an hour. However, it is something you should not do blindly or improvise.
Take the time to take care of every aspect of your birdhouse. Remember, if you do not pay attention to what you are doing, some things could be disastrous for you… and the birds.
The perfect floor plan
We warn you, you cannot improvise! The first thing you need to build a birdhouse is a floor plan. There are many plans of different sizes and designs available for free, from the simplest to the most elaborate, you only have to choose the one that best suits the species you want to attract.
If you do not follow the directions on the map to the letter, you will probably result in a birdhouse with disproportionate, uncomfortable and unsafe dimensions for your birds. This could scare them away or even cause their death.
If this is your first time building a birdhouse and you also have zero experience in carpentry, we recommend you choose a basic plan of a simple single unit nesting box… or take a carpentry course.
The right tools
You can build a sand castle with your hands and sand, but it will definitely be better if you use a shovel, a bucket and small tools for the details. It is almost the same with a birdhouse.
To build an ideal birdhouse you need to have certain types of tools on hand and make sure they are in good condition. For your safety and that of the birds.
It is simple. You need saws that cut well and hammers that nail well and are safe! You should also make sure you choose the right drill bits for the type of material you are going to work with.
It is best to use galvanized nails and screws because they do not rust. We also recommend that you glue the birdhouse joints together with waterproof glue.
If you do not follow these recommendations you will easily get a bad birdhouse for your birds. It will be an unsafe little house that is likely to be damaged soon after use or by weather variations.
Ventilation and drainage
There are details that make the difference when building a birdhouse. More than comfort, they provide security.
Some 3/8″ holes along the back of the birdhouse will provide ventilation. Similar holes in the roof will help heat escape during the summer and keep the birds cool.
At least one small hole in each corner of the floor will drain debris and rainwater from the birdhouse.
A birdhouse without ventilation and drainage holes will bring with it suffocated birds and ruined nests.
Poor design of the birdhouse floor
The floor is the base of a birdhouse. So ideally the floor should be larger than the birdhouse in each dimension. Add an extra inch to the width and depth beyond the walls that are already attached and cut the floor that size. From there the interior of the birdhouse will be defined.
Think that parent birds need enough space to move around quietly when carrying nest material or food for their young.
If you use a small floor, the inside of the birdhouse will be even smaller and the birds may not use it or the house may become crowded as the little birds grow. They probably will not get hurt, but it will be hot for the birds and Mom and Dad will have trouble cleaning up.
Now, a birdhouse with an interior too large for the species that inhabit it can result in birds spending a lot of time and energy searching for more nesting material to fill the large space.
You should also consider that, if the birdhouse is too big, it will attract natural predators or inappropriate tenants like squirrels. Oops!
Be sure to design the interior of the birdhouse and then design the floor proportionally to those dimensions. If you do it the other way around, you will get a bad floor design for your birdhouse… And serious consequences!
Bad birdhouse material selection
Now that you have gotten this far, you know almost all the features that a birdhouse should not have if you really want to attract birds and keep them safe. But one fundamental feature is missing.
The material in your birdhouse is a very important decision. As obvious as it may seem, you must not overlook it. Choosing any material because it is cheaper or easier to handle can result in a poor selection of material for your birdhouse! And this is a huge mistake.
Always, always, ALWAYS remember that a birdhouse must adapt to the preferences and needs of the birds you want to attract. And, moreover, think only about attracting species that frequent the area and space where you are. Therefore, the birdhouse material must also be suitable for the climatic conditions of a particular environment.
Seriously, it is not a decision you should leave to chance. We trust that you are (or really want to be) an exceptional birdwatcher. Come on, are you really going to leave the lives of your little birds to chance?
A bad selection of your birdhouse material would be like having all the features of a bad birdhouse at the same time. From boxes that cannot withstand weather variations to little birds attacked by predators, a lot of bad things can happen if you do not choose carefully.
The longer the life of your birdhouse, the better. Therefore, we recommend that you avoid using materials that need to be replaced constantly. It is a little annoying and it will make you spend more money than you need to.
There are very original models in plastic, but the birdhouses of this material crack and deteriorate quickly. Also, the handmade ceramic designs are very beautiful, but the cold or any blow could break them.
Pine and plywood are stronger than plastic and ceramic, but you will need a light coat of paint to make them last just over a year.
Terrible materials in extreme climates
Another thing to keep in mind is that birds need to feel comfortable no matter how many degrees it is out there – be careful! Some materials store a lot of heat and others get too cold.
If you are considering buying or building a plastic birdhouse, you should know that this material heats up very easily. If you do not believe us, just bring a plastic spoon a little closer to the flame of a candle and watch what happens.
Metal is also a bad material for a birdhouse in terms of temperature. On the one hand, metal birdhouses become very cold when the degrees start to drop, and on the other hand, they get too hot in hot weather. We’d better avoid freezing or roasting the birds.
Materials that attract predators
We told you, the selection of your birdhouse material can have consequences on almost anything. Predators included. Some materials such as plastic or resin are great because there are a variety of fun and eye-catching designs. The problem is… something too bright or flashy can also be great for a predator.
The metal, although it usually has no striking designs, does reflect sunlight and shine, so it can also be seen as an invitation by predators.
Do you know what a birdhouse should not have?
Always remember that anything that puts your birds’ lives at risk is a bad idea for a birdhouse. Avoid making generic and hasty decisions. Take your time. Come on, think about what your birds and your space need.
The ideal birdhouse is the most comfortable and safe. The more you know, the fewer mistakes you will make. Did you notice that you have a bad feature in your birdhouse? Are you ready to do it wonderfully? Leave us a comment, we’d like to hear about your experience!
See you in the next post!