You will find a lot of birdhouses for sale in stores, and they are
cute and attractive, but are they safe for bird?
There's nothing wrong with decorated birdhouses as long as
they still have the features listed below. I have found that birds
tend to be attracted to the plain unpainted houses rather than the
highly decorated ones. This is probably because they prefer a safe
unobtrusive nesting area rather than one that attracts attention.
Here is a list of important features that every birdhouse
Entrance Hole Size Most common
hole-nesting birds can use an entrance hole 1 1/2 inches in
diameter. This size keeps out larger invasive species such as
Starlings which like to take over nests from local native species.
For a list of hole sizes for various birds, click Here.
No Perch If you stop and think about
it, tree holes in the wild have no perches, so the birds that use
nest boxes don't need them either. They can actually be harmful
because invasive and aggressive species will perch outside a nest
and harass a nesting bird as a means of taking over the nest.
Floor Dimensions The inside dimensions of the box are
important and should be at least 4 inches by 4 inches so that
there is room for the young to develop.
Box Height The distance from the bottom of the entrance
hole to the floor of the box should be at least 5 inches. This
keeps the developing young well down in the box and away from
predators that might approach the entrance hole.
Be Able to Open You must be able to open the box, either on
the side, front, or top. This helps in two ways: to monitor the
progress and health of the young; and to clean out the box at the
end of the season.
Ventilation There must be holes or slits at the top of
the box, the sides, or the front of the box to let hot air out
when the sun beats down on the box in summer. Remember, birds get
hot just like we do.
Drainage Holes Nesting birds can be very messy. The bottom
of the box needs to have holes or cut off corners to allow any
water or waste to drain out of the box.
A Secure Way to Attach the Box Make sure there is some way
that you can attach the box to a pole, or tree such as holes or a
Should Be Wood Be sure that the materials the box is made
of are 3/4 inch thick wood or a similar material that will
insulate the birds from cold and heat. Many birdhouse plans call
for 1" x 6" boards which means that the finished
thickness is the required 3/4". I always try to use cedar
wood if possible. It does not require painting and will withstand
the harshest weather for a very long time.
Roof Overhang The roof should have an overhang above the
entrance hole by 1 to 2 inches. This both shades the entrance hole
and keeps the rain out.