There are many, many birdhouse designs. But the essential characteristics of a birdhouse are the same. Basically, it should be a well-constructed box, with a roof, an entrance hole and drainage, and ventilation holes.
Even a simple wooden nest box could be a bird paradise, they do not care about luxuries! However, you can find almost any type of birdhouse you can think of in a store or if you do a quick search on the Internet.
But wait a minute, don’t birds know how to make their own nests? Well, yes, but the truth is that we humans are building more and more spaces for our buildings and highways, and taking away trees and habitat from the birds – isn’t it better for our planet that the human race and the rest of nature live in harmony?
Putting birdhouses in your backyard is a small grain of sand in nature. Not only will you give more options to the birds that need a nest site, but you will also be able to hear their cheerful singing, watch them flutter and even observe them for educational purposes.
How do birds build their nests in nature?
Not all birds are the same. Different species nest in different places, heights and times. Some birds prefer to make their nests outdoors in tree branches, in shrubs or even on the ground. Others, however, prefer to nest in cavities within trees or soil. Nothing too complicated, we will tell you about nest types here!
You probably have a pretty good idea of what this nest looks like. The cup nest is precisely a cup-shaped nest. But nothing to do with drinks. In it, the eggs are lodged in the lower part of the nest.
Cup nests are quite common and may be on tree branches or even on shelves. They are usually made with dry grass and twigs attached with saliva. However, the size and depth of the cup vary depending on the type of bird.
Among the birds that prefer cup nests are the Barn Swallows, the Hummingbirds, and the American Robins etc.
As the name implies, an adherent nest adheres to surfaces, no matter if they are trees, cliffs, or the building where you live! I’m sure you’ve seen a nest like this on some vertical surface before.
To build an adherent nest, the little birds make a kind of clay. Our feathered friends take little mud balls in their mouths and mix them with nothing less than their saliva. More than disgusting, it is a natural genius.
In this case, the name of this type of nest is not so obvious. A platform nest is usually large, bulky and flat, with a slight depression to lay eggs.
Birds use large branches and sticks to make platform nests and can build them between tree branches, in shallow water or even on the ground.
An earth-hole nest is basically a tunnel in the ground. It may be a shallow cave or a larger tunnel that leads to the nest where the eggs or young are safe.
Puffins as shown in the figure given below usually dig a tunnel in the ground which is about 2 to 3 feet long and at the end of the tunnel they make their nest using grass and feathers. They lay, incubate their eggs 3 feet into the ground.
Not all nests are at high altitudes or in peculiar places. Many birds nest on the ground! To build them, they peck at the ground to make a small hole and then finish building the nest with grass and other materials. Sounds easier than the old ones, doesn’t it? But it is still an architectural work.
Now we come to the simplest kind of nest. The scrape nest is a shallow depression in the ground surrounded by a small amount of nesting material such as grass, small rocks, leaves or feathers.
Because scrape nests are so simple, the eggs in them are often camouflaged to go unnoticed by predators. Birds that build scrape nests are usually land birds or birds that prefer to live in open areas.
Importance of birdhouses
Having birdhouses in your backyard can be more than a hobby. We know, you love to listen to the happy singing of the birds and watch them flutter. But if you really are a passionate birdwatcher, you know very well that you have a commitment to nature.
Listening to the birds’ sing is like feeling in harmony. Not only are they beautiful creatures, but they are also culturally charged. Birds are also important indicators of biodiversity, and if we study them we know and understand nature better.
The importance of birdhouses is that they provide a safe place for birds to make their nests and raise their babies. In addition, a birdhouse can serve as a place for birds to gather for winter warmth, as a shelter from the rain or as a place to rest when they are migrating.
More than 50 species of birds make their nests in cavities. There are less and less vegetation and natural spaces for birds to make their nests, especially in cities and urban areas. Therefore, birdhouses are important because they help preserve various species of birds. Pay attention to this list of reasons why you should have a birdhouse, or more!
A large number of birds feed on insects. Mosquitoes, worms, flies, and many more! They are perfect insectivores. Now imagine if there were not enough (or none!) birds eating insects… what would happen?
Everything has a balance in nature, and the truth is that without birds to keep insects at bay there would be infestations all over the world. Remember, one more bird is equivalent to many less unwanted insects in your yard.
Many birds love to eat weed seeds – do you really want weeds in your yard or in your garden? Birds love it and it bothers us. We do not even have to explain this point much.
Sipping the nectar from the flowers is not just a matter of bees, many birds love it too! This helps pollinate the flowers in your yard or garden. Birds are cute, aren’t they?
Birdhouses serve as enclosures for birds to make their nests, raise their young and take shelter.
Giving more space to birds is to contribute to the preservation of nature. We already said it and it is very serious, to observe and study our friends with feathers will help us to better understand our environment. Besides, admit it, they are beautiful creatures.
A world… without singing?
Okay, not all birds sing cheerfully, we know that. But each one has a particular sound that connects us with nature. In a world as busy and stressful as humans can be, hearing the sound of a little bird can mean calm and harmony.
Birdhouses and Nesting shelves
Well, you know what a birdhouse is and how important it is to bird preservation. Many birds enjoy birdhouses because they prefer to make their nests in cavities, and they feel comfortable there!
But other of our friends with feathers prefer to make their nests in open spaces, among the branches of the trees, how to attract them to our yard? Well, as a good bird watcher you also need to know that these species would feel comfortable in a nesting shelf.
It is very easy to differentiate a birdhouse from a nesting shelf. The birdhouses are completely enclosed, except for the entrance hole and the drainage and ventilation holes. The birds and their young are well sheltered there.
On the other hand, a nesting shelf is mainly a support for birds to make their nests and be better protected than in other habitats. One could say that a nesting shelf looks like a birdhouse without the front wall or with only the back wall.
While there are many designs, sizes, shapes, and materials for birdhouses, the supply of nesting shelves on the market is smaller.
But do not get discouraged! It all depends on the type of bird you want to attract, and I am sure you will get the ideal one.
Note that American Robins, Cardinals, Barn Swallows and Phoebes prefer a nesting shelf. In fact, Duncraft has launched a nesting shelf specially designed for the colorful and fussy Cardinals.
If you prefer to fill your backyard with birdhouses, consider that Bluebirds, Wrens, Chickadees, House Sparrows, and Purple Martins will surely be the main tenants.
Types of birdhouses
Remember that when choosing a birdhouse, you should always think first of all about the type of bird you want to attract and its needs. We know it can be crazy to choose a birdhouse because there are too many options, but take a look at this classification.
It is important that you pay attention to where and how you set up your birdhouse. Birds will inhabit birdhouses that are in areas where they feel more comfortable. Also, keep in mind that a birdhouse should be at an adequate height from the ground, in an area away from predators and anything that might disturb the birds.
A pole-mounted birdhouse is a fairly safe option because it is more difficult for predators to climb to the birdhouse, especially if it is a metal pole.
But make sure the post is strong and stable so the birdhouse does not swing back and forth when the wind blows.
Installing a birdhouse on a slippery wall is also an option that will keep predators away. You might even consider setting up the house on a brick wall. But watch out! Keep in mind that if the wall is dark it will absorb a lot of heat during the summer and that would be terrible for the birds.
Yes, the birds are always fluttering around. But they are not really happy inside a wind-blown birdhouse, so maybe you would better avoid hanging the nest box from a tree branch or a porch… or wherever.
Some birds love to live surrounded by their friends. For them, the best thing is a birdhouse hotel. That is a single birdhouse with enough cavities and space for several families of birds to make their nests at the same time.
A birdhouse hotel must be relatively large to accommodate so many hoverers at the same time, it has at least four cavities! But it could be six or twelve, or more!
Among the species that prefer this type of birdhouse is the Purple Martins, these sociable little birds make their nests in colonies!
You would be surprised how many birds prefer to make their nests in gourd birdhouses.
They may not be the prettiest, the most sophisticated or the most original, but gourd birdhouses are easier to make and attract birds faster than box or multi-cavity houses.
Remember that it is not so much what you want that matters, but what your birds prefer.
Ceramic birdhouses are made of clay fired at high temperatures which is then glazed. They are really very beautiful and original, and the best thing is that the water cannot seep in from the outside.
The problem? Ceramics can break easily, even if they are exposed to very cold climates. If you want a ceramic birdhouse, you will have to take it inside when the temperature starts to drop.
Are birds in danger?
Every day we expand our cities more and more, there are forest fires and we pollute the air, lakes, and rivers. Let’s be honest, human beings can lend a hand or be the worst predators. It is up to us.
By reducing the natural habitats of birds, we cause them to migrate to other areas with less favorable climatic conditions that they cannot withstand, or to be exposed to predators from which they cannot defend themselves.
Why should you save birds?
Come on, birds have been on Earth for a long time, but long before humans appeared, they are descendants of dinosaurs! Our little friends with feathers are part of nature, part of the ecosystem. Shouldn’t that be enough to save the birds?
The disappearance of the birds would mean a mismatch in the ecosystems, remember that they are important insectivores (yes, they eat those that abound on Earth) and that they also help to spread seeds, so they also help to plant trees.
The variety of species on our planet is very important. The different life forms on Earth bring with them more life! Biodiversity maintains the balance of ecosystems around the world and, whether we like it or not, humans also depend on it to survive.
How should a birdhouse look?
There are really many, many options when it comes to choosing a birdhouse. It may take you too long to get the right one if you do not know what gives your birds the most protection. But do not panic, we will explain.
A birdhouse should look like a bird paradise. Nothing too extravagant, but rather simple.
To begin with, the birdhouse material should be strong and insulating so that birds are protected in very hot or very cold weather. So, we recommend that you use unpainted and untreated wood, especially cedar, cypress or pine, and your birds will feel at home.
Ventilation and drainage
Another very important aspect is the drainage and ventilation holes. 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 chicks cool.
At least one small hole in each corner of the floor will drain waste and rainwater from the birdhouse.
Building and Construction
Be sure to use a suitable floor plan for the birdhouse and follow the instructions carefully. Also, glue the birdhouse joints together with waterproof glue. Finally, finish fixing with galvanized nails and screws, so they will not rust!
The size of the entrance hole to the birdhouse will depend on the tenants you want inside it.
A very small hole can damage the feathers of birds. On the other hand, a hole that is too big can attract larger birds or predators, or cause the chicks to fall out of the birdhouse. Oops!
A perch may look nice, but it is not necessary for birds. In fact, a perch makes it easier for predators to work, they could lean in there and go into the birdhouse! For the sake of the birds, a good birdhouse should not have a perch.
Are there any drawbacks of birdhouses?
The only drawbacks to birdhouses are the mistakes that can be made if you rush to choose the first one you come across. If you are really careful and consider the preferences and needs of the birds you want to attract, the only thing that will happen is that you will give the birds a safe place to multiply. And better things will come from there.
Humans are the strongest. We have no claws, no big fangs, and we do not fly over the skies with grace (at least not with our own bodies), but we are the species that has done the most damage to the planet.
Why not use our strength to do something positive for our environment? Think about waking up and listening to the singing of the birds every morning, yes, but also think that the opportunity to protect and care for the species to live in harmony with nature is some kind of superpower that will benefit us and future generations.
Ready to pick a birdhouse?
You know what a birdhouse is and above all, you know what the importance of birdhouses is. A simple action like offering shelter to a little bird, benefits you and everyone else. As a good bird watcher, you understand that this is not just a hobby, but a commitment to the planet.
See you in the next post!