There is nothing like relaxing in the morning with a cup of coffee while you watch the songbirds frolic in your backyard. It's a wonderful way to start your day. To make this scene a reality, you need to attract birds to your yard. One way to get the songbirds to move in is to supply them with birdhouses.
Attracting birds to your yard has a number of benefits. Birds help with insect control, and brighten your yard with their plumage and songs. Bird-watching allows you to learn more about bird behavior in your own yard. Moreover, supplying the birds with a nesting area helps the songbird population to thrive and reproduce. In urban and suburban areas there are fewer and fewer natural areas for songbirds to nest. Birdhouses give these enchanting creatures a safe place to live and supply us with new generations of songbirds.
There are over 50 different species of birds that will happily nest in birdhouses. However, not every kind of bird will nest in just any birdhouse. Different birds have very specific birdhouse needs. Bluebirds prefer taller, narrow birdhouses, while cardinals are partial to more square or A-frame birdhouses. Purple martins, unlike other birds, are happy to share their space with others. Robins, barn swallows and mourning doves will use an open-faced nesting shelf. Finches need their house mounted on a post and should have an angled or protected entryway to deter predators. Ventilation and drainage holes are very important in a finch house as well.
You can easily build your own birdhouse. You should use untreated wood or aluminum. Hardwoods will last longer than soft woods, and it is best to leave the wood unpainted so it will fade and blend in with the environment--this will also be much more desirable to the bird shopping for a nesting site. If you can use wood with a rough surface or the bark still attached, this is useful for the bird to grip and perch on. You can also use a gourd to make a birdhouse. The gourd needs to be dried for several months and cleaned thoroughly, but it makes a unique addition to your backyard bird sanctuary.
You do not want to have too many of the same type of birdhouse in one backyard. Many birds are territorial, so you will probably only get one mating couple of any species of bird. Hang your birdhouses in the fall or winter for springtime arrivals, and do not be disappointed if you have to wait a year before anyone moves in. To attract birds faster, provide food and water, and plant trees and bushes preferred by birds. Look for a sunny, open space to hang your birdhouse, and try to make sure it gets some afternoon shade. Also, try to hang it where it will be difficult for predators to invade.
Whether you buy or build your birdhouse, having a way to get inside to clean it is very important. Parasites and insects can invade the birdhouse and harm the baby birds. It is best to clean the birdhouse out after every brood, but the minimal recommended cleaning is once a year. Make sure your birdhouse has a hinged roof, hinged wall or slide-out bottom for easy cleaning.