Tips of buying or building the right birdhouse to attract birds to your garden and home. Not all bird houses are right for every bird. Attract beneficial birds to your garden by making a bird house that’s just right for them.
While birds can be considered a garden pest, they can also be beneficial to have in your garden. While they may eat berries and other items you grow, they can also eat bugs that you don’t want in your garden. I always try to plant enough to share with the wildlife, and every Fall I sit in my overgrown garden and watch the birds harvest sunflower seeds directly from the tall flowers. It’s one of the joys of having a big enough garden to share. Even though we have plenty of birds already and they nest in surrounding trees, this year I want to add some birdhouses to my garden.
Attracting birds to your garden is a lot more than just setting up a birdhouse, however. For starters, different birds prefer to live in different type of spaces, so the type of birds you attract depend on the type of birdhouse you use. You can tailor your birdhouse selection to the specific birds you’d like to see in your garden.
Here’s a guide on what to build or buy for different types of common birds.
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Things to Consider when Choosing a Birdhouse
Size of the Box
A smaller house might make the birds cramped in while making them too large might fail to keep the baby birds warm. The bigger the bird, the larger the house.
Some birds prefer houses with open sides while others prefer a certain shape for the entrance. Knowing the difference helps you attract your choice of birds.
Size of the Entrance Hole
The correct hole size is big enough for your desired birds to use but small enough to keep predators away.
Most birds prefer earth-colored houses except purple martins that prefer white. Bright colors might also be helpful to attract specific types of birds.
Wood is typically the best choice of material but depending on the type of bird, aluminum, dried gourds, or other materials may also be used.
Ventilation and Drainage
Proper ventilation and drainage holes in the floors are necessary regardless of the type of bird you want to attract.
Type of Birdhouses for Different Types of Birds
Bluebirds prefer to eat insects and insect larvae, but also enjoy some types of berries when the insect population declines in cold weather.
Bluebirds need small houses, ideally 5-inch x 5-inch, with one room with large sloping roofs. Each house should be about 50 – 75 yards away from another.
These birds need small, east-facing, entrance holes of 1.5-inch diameter, with perches in front. Making two holes may provide bluebirds with a better defense against predators.
These birdhouses should be placed 5 – 8 feet above the ground, in open areas with available food to feed the baby birds.
Cone-shaped predator baffles may be used for protection from intruder birds and predators.
Robins predominately eat insects and worms, but may also eat small reptiles and amphibians, including snakes. They also will eat berries.
Robins do not need birdhouses. To attract Robins to your garden, use nesting shelves or platforms that do not have a roof, placed about 5 – 25 feet above the ground. If there’s a roof it should be slanted to drip off rainwater.
House wrens love to find and eat insects in your garden.
A house that’s 4-inch x 6-inch or 5-inch x 5-inch and about 8-inches in height is preferred for wrens.
The diameter of the entrance hole should not be bigger than 1.25 inches.
Houses for wrens should be placed near woody vegetation, 5 – 10 feet above the ground, and away from other birdhouses.
Chickadees are one of my favorite birds. My paternal grandmother loved to point out different birds and she would coo, “chickadeedeedeedee” at the birds we saw.
Chickadees need the same size of house as house wrens.
The hole should be about 1.125-inches in diameter and 6 inches above the base of the birdhouse.
Chickadees like their houses to be in covered areas like in a stand of shrubs and 4 – 8 feet above the ground.
Purple Martins prefer to stay in colonies, so apartment-style s with multiple rooms or multiple nesting gourds should be used. These could also be on multiple levels.
Since they like to live together, having multiple entrance holes could be good. The holes should have diameters of about 2.125-inches, and the bottom of the holes should be on the same level as the floor of each room.
These should be placed in open lawns of fields, away from obstacles, and 10 – 18 feet above the ground.
Purple Martins prefer houses painted white on the outside.
Wood and aluminum houses could be used but gourds have shown larger reproduction success for Purple Martins.
Owls may or may not be something you want to attract to your garden. Many are carnivores, and will eat small birds, mice, rabbits, and other small mammals. This works well if you have a rabbit problem in your garden, but not if you raise chickens.
Owls generally prefer abandoned nests that have previously been inhabited by other birds.
Owls need large houses of around 10-inch x 10-inch base, about 24-inches in height.
The entrance holes should be about 3 to 6 inches in diameter depending on the size of the type of owl.
Birdhouses for owls should be located in the woods or within mature trees, about 15 feet above the ground.
Add wood shavings or sawdust inside the birdhouse, up to a couple of inches, for woodpeckers to nest.
According to the species of woodpecker, the hole size varies from 1.25-inches to 2.5-inches.
Place these houses 8 – 12 feet above ground in direct sunlight.
Doves prefer platforms with open sides, placed 5 – 25 feet above the ground. They are also attracted to platforms in dull colors like gray and brown.
Sparrows accept most birdhouses and typically prefer spaces abundant in trees, leaves, and shrubs.
If you want to dedicate a specific house for Sparrows make sure to place them 5 – 15 feet above the ground. Make the entrance holes 1.25 to 2 inches in diameter and avoid adding perches in front.
Why do you want to attract different birds to your garden?
Pest and weed control
Birds eat several different insects as a part of the ecosystem and keep the bugs in control in your garden. Some birds also eat weed seeds, which control the weeds and help the landscaping.
Birds that drink nectar from the flowers help in pollination that’ll give rise to flowers and in turn attract more birds to the garden.
Having lots of birds in your garden allows you to learn about the variety of birds, their needs, behaviors, and environments.
Aesthetics and Relaxation
Having different types of birds in your garden will help increase the audiovisual quality of your garden and make it a more soothing place to be in. Spending time in your garden can now become a stress relief activity.
Inviting the birds to your garden creates new habitats for them and helps in the conservation of birds and related aspects of their ecosystem.
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