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 Building A Birdhouse: Things To Know

 By Donald Rohde

So you want to build a birdhouse. A well-built birdhouse should be durable, keep out the rain, not overheat, and be easy to clean. Keep these requirements in mind and let's get started.

1. First, determine the types of birds you see around your backyard. Then figure out which ones will use a birdhouse. Some birds build nests in trees or bushes, such as doves, cardinals, and mockingbirds. Others may make their nests on the ground or even burrows down in the ground. Only cavity nesting birds will use a birdhouse. Examples of common cavity nesting birds are chickadees, flickers, and bluebirds. Determine the type of bird that you wish to use the birdhouse.

2. Determine the dimensions of the birdhouse. Most birds require different sizes of birdhouses as well as entrance holes. Below you will find a chart with some specs to build houses for various common cavity nesting birds:

3. When selecting the wood to use, use plain untreated lumber. Do not use exterior grade plywood (contains formaldehyde) or pressure-treated lumber (contains toxic preservatives.) Plastic and metal often overheat in the hot summer sun.

4. Almost time to pick out a birdhouse plan. First, however, remember these things about good houses: Has some type of ventilation holes or slots near the roof so heat can escape. Normally these holes will be on the sides of the house - NOT the roof - so rain will not drip in.
•Roof is slanted enough to shed rain and extends well over the entrance hole for protection from rain and sun.
•No perch. Most people think that there should be a perch under the entrance hole. However, the birds nesting inside do not need a perch. The perch also invites predators or other birds to attack or bother the parents and babies inside.
•Has drain holes or small slots in the bottom of the nest box for drainage (you don't want those babies to be drowned during a storm!)
•Has a door, roof, or side wall that can easily be opened to clean out the nest box. Leftover nests can attract mites and other parasites as well as make more work for new occupants who must clear out the old nest.
•Inside wall beneath the entrance hole is roughed up or has some type of grooves for baby birds to climb as they get older.

Type of birdFloor sizeDepthEntrance above floorEntrance hole sizeHeight above ground
Eastern Bluebird5"x5"8"6"1 1/2"5-8 feet
Chickadee4x4"8-10"6-8"1 1/8"6-15 feet
Downy Woodpecker4x4"9-12"6-8"1 1/4"6-20 feet
Flicker7x7"16-18"14-16"2 1/2"6-22 feet
House Wren4x4"8-10"4-6"1 1/4"6-10 feet
Nuthatch4x4"8-10"6-8"1 1/4"12-20 feet
Screech Owl8x8"12-15"9-12"3"10-30 feet
Tits4x4"8-10"6-8"1 1/4"6-15 feet

5. Keeping these above points in mind, select a birdhouse plan for the type of bird you wish to attract to the house.
There are number of excellent birdhouse plans on the Internet as well as many great books you can buy. (See the suggestions at the end of this article.)

6. Never use paint or stain inside the birdhouse. If you want to paint the outside, wait until it is built and paint only the wood that you can see. Be sure to use a non-toxic exterior latex paint that does not contain lead. Light colors will reflect the heat and light, keeping the house cooler in the summer. Or keep the house natural, without paint. Rough cedar or redwood would be an excellent type of wood if you want to go paint-less.

7. Now it's time to put up your birdhouse. They can be attached to wood or metal fence posts, trees, or their own wood or metal posts. Bluebird boxes seem to attract more predators when on trees.
If you are mounting your birdhouse to a post, always try to attach a baffle or collar to prevent snakes, cats, and other predators from climbing the pole to the house.
Locate your house an adequate distance from each other since most nesting parents are territorial. Place the birdhouse where the parents and baby birds are not distracted and worried about your family's activities. The entrance should face away from the prevailing wind. Remember, bluebirds prefer lots of open space in front of their birdhouse and be sure to mount the house at the proper height.

Courtesy: Cedar Creek Woodshop
Visit Cedar Creek Woodshop for a wide variety of birdhouses.

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