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your backyard.

Place birdhouses in gardens, large trees, and open areas. However, refrain

from placing them in places where pesticides and herbicides are in use.

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These are harmful to birds and reduce their primary food supply of insects

and worms. Also, keep the birdhouses away from industrial pollutants.

If required, mount your birdhouses on PVC pipes or metal poles.

Place small nest boxes on trees and fence posts. Use baffles to prevent any

predators from crawling into birdhouses. Greasing the pole with slippery

substances like vegetable oil or hot-pepper spray can also help to keep

predators at bay.

Again, place birdhouses at strategic locations so that you can always have an

eye on them. At the same time, teach your kids and pets to not disturb the

birds. Hang your birdhouse at a sheltered place.

Fix metal plates across the entrance hole to prevent other big birds, and

squirrels from enlarging the holes. Entrance hole should be perfect for the

type of bird you intend attracting to your birdhouse.

Certain species of birds do not like any of other birds within a perimeter of

forty feet around their birdhouse. If you want to place many birdhouses,

spread them over a huge area. Otherwise, territorial fights could leave all

your birdhouses empty.

Keep your birdhouses with their back to the most common wind in that area.

Use non-toxic methods to treat ant beds if they are close to birdhouses. Put a

thin layer of petroleum jelly to the inside the roof to prevent wasps and other

insects from making birdhouses their home.

Although feeders are essential for attracting birds, keep them at a distance

to maintain a calm and quiet surrounding for the young birds to grow in.

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15. How Many Birdhouses Should You Have?

If you are an enthusiastic bird-watcher, you will love to hang many

birdhouses in your backyard and garden. However, birds may not share your

enthusiasm. Specific species of birds have their own preferences when

choosing their birdhouses.

Bluebirds, Purple martins, and Tree swallows love the company of other birds near their birdhouses. Purple martins love nesting near your home.

They also love having birdbaths, streams or ponds close by. These birds

usually nest in colonies and therefore require many birdhouses to

accommodate their huge families.

Chickadees and bluebirds prefer open spaces with fields and trees spread

over an area of two to five acres. Flycatchers and American kestrels love

nesting in birdhouses on the edge of forested areas. Finches, however, love

nesting near your home.

Nuthatches accept birdhouses in forested or open areas but spread across

twenty to fifty acres. Titmice require around two to five acres of open or

forested land around their birdhouses.

So, the number of birdhouses you should put on your backyard or garden

depends more on the type of habitat surrounding your home. Open areas

attract some species of birds while dense forested areas in the vicinity attract

different species. If you have a mixture of habitats surrounding your house,

you can expect a wide variety of birds to take up a home in the many

birdhouses you could spread across the landscape.

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16. How to Help Birds Make Their Own Nests

A lot of hard work goes in to

building a nest. Birds have to

select a suitable nesting site,

collect all materials for their nest,

and then carry them to their

nesting place. Thereafter, they

have to build their nests all the

while looking after their regular

job of scouting for food and

water.

You can help them by placing

suitable nesting material in a pile on the ground or more safely in string bags

and suet cages to prevent the wind from blowing it off. Hang such bags at

strategic locations so that birds can gather necessary materials. (Suet bags

are a way to feed birds so they will come to your area to eat. You can

purchase them from any bird-feeding store.)

Useful Nesting Materials

¾ Thin strips of cloth around six inches long, or pieces of yarn about four

inches long

¾ Twigs

¾ Human or pets’ hair

¾ Long strips of dried grass or leaves

¾ Feathers

¾ Cotton pieces

¾ Pine needles

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¾ Strips off plastic sacks or cellophane

Some birds, like Barn swallows, use mud to give a lining to their nests.

Place a muddy pool close by to help these birds. Birds also collect flower

petals, snakeskin, spider webs, butterfly wings, horsehair and, sometimes,

their own feathers to provide a comfortable lining for their nests.

Do not keep any fishing line or dryer fabric softener sheets around for the

birds to find.

Additionally, keep your feeders full to help such birds. Later, these feeders

are useful for feeding the nesting parents or their young ones.

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Part-VI: Nesting Behavior and Habitat Requirements

17. Nesting Behavior of Different Birds

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)

The American Kestrels nest in deserted holes of the woodpecker, snags or

natural cavities in trees. They prefer to set up in cliffs, under building roofs or

in dirt banks. Both the male and the female look for good nesting sites.

Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens)

The Ash-throated Flycatchers have quite arbitrary needs for their nesting

site. Their nests are 3 to 20 feet above the ground in hollow stumps,

deserted woodpecker holes, behind the loose barks or in tree cavities. They

nest in yucca plants, metal posts, drain cans or tin cans. The female fill their

nests with rootlets, weeds, grasses and dried animal dung. Then, they cup

them with fur, hair, or tender grasses. The male quietly follows the female

and protects her from advances from other males.

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

The Barn Owls do not build a nest. The female of this species make a bed of

pellets and different breeding pairs often use good sites again in future

years. The cavity area can be just big enough for the incubating female to

recline or large enough to accommodate several birds. The nests are mostly

located in tree cavities or caves. They occasionally dig burrows in the areas

where they can find abundant prey.

Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)

The Tufted Titmouse use natural cavities for breeding. Abandoned

woodpecker holes are sought after. The nest building begins during late

March and takes six to eleven days. The nest is constructed of leaves, dry

grasses, moss, cotton, hair and, at times, snakeskin. The male feeds the

female during the nest building and until the time that the eggs hatch.

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Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)

The Violet-green Swallows build their nests in the crevices of cliffs, cavities of

trees, woodpecker holes and in old nests of other birds. The female build the

nest with twigs, grasses, fur, horsehair and stems. The nest building takes

six days to three weeks. The male brings feathers and uses them to line the

nest during the egg laying and incubation period.

Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)

The female Western Bluebirds build their nests in decaying trees, in tree

cavities or snags or even woodpecker holes. The nest is made of grasses,

weeds and, at times, feathers and hair, about 4 to 40 feet above the ground.

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

The White-breasted Nuthatch’s nest is usually 3 to 20 feet from the ground in

woodpecker holes, tree cavities and nest boxes. They use bark strips and

lumps in their nest. They cup the nest with fine grass, hair, fur, wool and

feathers. The female builds the nest and the male stays close to her, giving

her contact calls and feeding her throughout the incubation period.

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

The Wood Duck builds its nest 3 to 60 feet off the ground in a hole of a tree

trunk. Their nests are not necessarily near the water body, but never too far

for the young ones to go to the water. They prefer woodpecker holes. They

also use nest boxes for their nests. The female of this species does not use

any foreign objects to build the nest. Instead, she uses the grayish-white

feathers off her body.

See wood duck plans.

Purple Martin (Progne subis)

The Purple Martin depends on a nest that is provided by humans. If they do

build one, it will be in natural wood cavities or abandoned woodpecker holes.

The breeding season begins late May or June. The pair initially starts building

in many cavities but eventually settle for one. These birds use straw, leaves,

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stems, twigs and mud in their nest. The nest cup consists of fine grasses and

fresh green leaves, which they bring in everyday until the eggs hatch. The

Purple Martin rims their nest with mud to prevent the eggs from rolling and

predators from getting in.

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Black-capped Chickadees usually excavate or build their nests in woodpecker

holes and nest boxes. The females take three to five days, or sometimes as

long as two weeks to build the nest. The nest inside is made of moss, fur,

feathers and cobwebs. The nests may be located at different heights, but

most commonly at one and a half to seven meters away from the ground.

The males of this species feed their mates throughout the nest building and

incubation period.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)

The Chestnut-backed Chickadees build their nests in existing tree cavities

and nest boxes, but mostly they excavate their own nest sites. Their

breeding season begins from the middle of March to early April. Their nests

are usually at low heights and are made of moss, grass, ferns etc. It is not

yet known whether it is the male, female or both that build their nests.

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

The Eastern Bluebirds build their nests in woodpecker’s holes or dead, or

decaying, trees with dry grasses or pine needles. The nest cup is made of

fine grasses. The female selects one of the various sites shown to her by the

male to build a nest, which takes about four to six days. The males guard

their mates from other males. See an Eastern Bluebird House.

Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla)

The Brown-headed Nuthatches build their nests in decaying pine snags,

deserted woodpecker holes and hollow branches or nest boxes. Their nest

building involves excavation and takes one to six weeks. Both sexes work on

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it. The nest cup is made of wool, hair, or fur. They even caulk their cavities

by stuffing the cracks with cotton or plant down.

Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)

The Carolina Chickadee excavates cavities in rotting tree trunks or snags for

nesting. They occasionally nest in nest boxes. Both sexes work together to

excavate the nest cavity, which takes around two weeks. The female lines

the nest cup with fine grass, feathers, furs, and hair.

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

The Carolina Wrens build their nests in enclosed areas such as vine tangles

or upturned trees and even, at times, in the glove compartments of old cars

and discarded shoes. The breeding begins as early as March. The females

select the nest’s site. Both the sexes build the nest. Their nest is dome

shaped with a side entrance. It is made of dead leaves, pine needles, shed

snakeskin etc., and lined with hair and fur. The nests are rarely more than 12

feet above the ground level.

Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

The common Golden eye prefers cavities of mature trees and cavities close to

the water. They use all kinds of cavities. They line their nest with material

from the cavity or the feathers of the female’s chest. The limiting factor of

the Golden eye breeding is the availability of cavities. The Golden eyes rarely

perch on the limbs of a tree but, instead, they sit at nest cavity entrance.

East and West Screech-Owls; Eastern

- (Otus asio); Western - (Otus kennicottii)

Female Screech Owls generally prefer cavities in which they have earlier

successfully raised their young. The female select the cavity from their

male’s territory, which has an abundant food supply. They build their nest in

natural cavities or at abandoned woodpecker holes. They form a depression

in whatever materials are there in the cavity.

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Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea)

The only wood warbler that nests in cavities is the Prothonotary Warbler.

They make their nest over or near a water body. The males make dummy

nests, but the nest that a female builds is used. Moss, lichens and dry leaves

make their nests and fine grasses line it.

Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)

The Red-breasted Nuthatches excavate a nest cavity in a rotted branch or a

dead tree about 15 feet above the ground. The nest is made of rootlets,

grass, moss, furs and hair. Their breeding season begins late April to early

May. The adults typically smudge the pitch of the tree at the entrance region

to dissuade enemies.

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

Tree Swallows build their nest in natural cavities, woodpecker holes, or bird

boxes. Their nest building is governed by the prevailing weather. Their nests

are 1 to 10 meters off the ground and comprised of dry grass or pine

needles. The nest cup has mostly feathers and the male keeps on adding

them over the entire incubation period.

(Meter – The fundamental unit of length in the metric system, equivalent to

39.37 U.S. inches.)

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

European Starlings build their nests in rock crevices, building structures,

parks and open fields. The male starts building the nest but it is the female

that does most of the work. It takes two or three days to complete the nest.

The males closely guard their females during this period and prevent other

males from mating with them.

Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli)

The Mountain Chickadees excavate nests if they do not find other sites. They

prefer snags, natural cavities, deserted woodpecker holes and places under

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rocks. Their nests are at low heights and are made of moss, bark, fur and

feathers. Which of the sexes build the nest is not known.

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)

The House Wrens build their nest in natural cavities, woodpecker holes,

crannies and in nest boxes. They even build their nests in unique places such

as cow skulls, flowerpots, etc. Males start building the nest with small sticks.

The female make the nest cup with soft materials feathers, hair and wool,

etc.

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides)

Mountain Bluebirds are private nesters. The female chooses the site for the

nest and also builds it. It could be a natural cavity, deserted woodpecker hole

or cliff crevice. The nest is made of grass, pine needles, rootlets, wool, hair,

or feathers. The males pay all their attention to their mates during this

period.

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

With the Northern Flickers, the males do most of the excavating. They make

their nest on weak trees. They build their nests on poles and fencepost, too.

They also nest in boxes. See Northern Flicker Birdhouse design.

Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus)

The Great Crested Flycatchers build their nest in natural, deep tree cavities,

woodpecker holes and nest boxes. At times, they nest in unique locations

such as tin cans and pipes. Their nests are bulky and 3 to 70 feet above the

ground. Both sexes build the nest. They fill the cavity with pine needles,

twigs and mosses and then line them with hair and other soft material.

Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)

Hooded Mergansers nests are 10 to 20 ft (3 to 6 m) off the ground in hollow

trees, other natural cavities and nest boxes. Nests near the water are

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suitable for them. The female chooses the nest site. No nesting material is

used except the nest line that comprise down feathers off the female’s belly.

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

House Sparrows prefer their nests in natural tree cavities or tree branches.

The males select and build the nest. The nest is dome shaped with a side

entrance. The nest is an untidy collection of grass, paper, hair and feathers.

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18. Habitat Requirements for Cavity-Nesting

Birds

Different cavity nesting birds have specific preferences for nesting and

habitats. This is an insight into their preferences:

American kestrel

These birds prefer nesting at a height of ten to thirty feet from the ground on

farm buildings. Place their birdhouses on trees along the edge of woods or on

single trees in the middle of fields. These birds also prefer nesting in

meadows, pastures or orchards with grazed and mowed vegetation. The

entrance hole should have a diameter of 3 inches.

Ash-throated Flycatcher and Great Crested Flycatcher

These birds prefer nesting at a height of three to twenty feet from the

ground. The entrance should be a round hole of 1¾ inches diameter. Place

birdhouses in deserts, oak scrubs, mesquite thickets and dry plains with few

trees or cacti, or in open, deciduous woodlands.

Barn Owl

This owl species prefer nesting at a height of twenty to twenty-five feet from

the ground. They prefer open places like deserts, fields or marshes. Their

nest boxes should be close to riverbanks, cliffs, hollow trees, barns and

bridges - ensuring good rodent supply. Make birdhouses with round entrance

holes of 6” diameter for housing barn owls.

Black-capped chickadee and Carolina chickadees

These birds have similar nesting and habitat preferences. These birds prefer

nesting at a height of five to fifteen feet from the ground. Put an inch of

wood shavings in the birdhouses and make an entrance hole of 1 1/8 inches

diameter away from the direction of the wind. Place them in meadows, forest

edges and in woodlots with many mature hardwood trees so that they

receive sufficient, but not direct, sunlight. Place one box for every ten acres.

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Chestnut-backed chickadees and Mountain chickadees

These birds prefer nesting in mixed forests of deciduous and coniferous or

coniferous-only forests in close proximity to streams.

Eastern Screech Owl and Western Screech owls

These owls prefer nesting in forest edges, woodland clearings, parks, or in

trees with streams in the vicinity. Put a layer of two to three inches of wood

shavings in their birdhouses and place them at a height of ten to thirty feet

from the ground. Make round entrance holes of 3” diameter, facing north.

House Wrens

These birds prefer habitats like open forests, farmlands, parks, backyards in

shrubs or tall trees. Place their birdhouses at a height of five to ten feet

above the ground and make round entrance holes of 1¼ inches diameter.

Carolina wrens additionally prefer nesting in forests with thick

undergrowth.

Brown-headed Nuthatch

These birds prefer clearings or burned areas with dead trees, open stretches

of pine-hardwood forests, forests edges or cypress swamps. Make round

entrance holes of 1¼” diameter and facing away from the prevailing wind.

Place such birdhouses at a height of five to twenty feet. The Red-breasted

Nuthatch prefers mixed deciduous and coniferous forests, farmlands and

suburban parks.

Eastern Bluebird

These birds prefer nesting in orchards, open fields, lawns and open country

with sparse tree coverage at a height of three to six feet from the ground.

Mountain Bluebird and Western Bluebird

These varieties prefer the edges of coniferous and deciduous forest. You

need to make entrance holes of 1 ½” diameter, facing open areas.

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Tree Swallow

These birds prefer open fields with a wide expanse of water, marshy lands or

swamps. You can place many birdhouses at a height of five to fifteen feet

about thirty to a hundred feet apart in open areas near trees or fences.

Entrance holes should be round with a diameter of 1 3/8” facing the East.

Violet-green Swallows

These birds prefer open or mixed deciduous and coniferous forests, wooded

canyons and the edges of wooded forests.

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Part-VII: Caring for Birdhouses

19. How to Hang a Birdhouse

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Bungee Cord - After drawing galvanized wire through vent holes, fasten the

bungee cords. Extend cord around tree as shown.

Metal Clip - This clip, made from rust-proofed heavy-gauge metal, permits

the easy removal of boxes from trees or posts.

Aluminum Nails - Drill ¼-inch holes into the bottom and top of the back

board of the box. Drive aluminum nails in at an angle, as described here.

Wire Through Hose - Galvanized wire through vent holes. Fasten a rubber-

coated wire slackly around or over the limb as illustrated here.

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20. Tips for Monitoring and Cleaning Nest

Boxes

Placing or hanging your birdhouses in your backyard does not absolve you

from responsibilities of looking after your bird friends and their young ones.

You have to monitor their activities right from the time the birds choose your

birdhouse as their home.

If you find any invasive species making your birdhouses their home, keep

removing their nests. These species will soon move away. You can then keep

the birdhouse free for occupation by the regular and native bird species that

you prefer to help.

Monitoring helps to keep track on the progress of the birds and protect them

from undesirable weather and their enemies.

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Monitoring and Cleaning Birdhouses

Monitoring before the start of the season

Clean your birdhouses before putting them out ready to be occupied. Regular

monitoring of the birdhouses ensures nesting only by the specific species of

birds that you want and helps to keep them safe. Put a layer of three to four

inches of sawdust in the bottom of the birdhouses.

Seasonal Monitoring

The best time for monitoring the birdhouse is early in the morning when the

mother is often away feeding with her partner. Otherwise, you can knock

gently on the birdhouse to allow time for the mother to fly away.

However, do not force yourself to monitor it too often or disturb the birds as

it could then lead to nest abandonment by the birds.

This monitoring helps you to gather information about the number of eggs

and invasion of any parasites like ants or insects. You can then take steps to

curb the parasitism. Bluebirds require weekly monitoring. These birds have a

very weak sense of smell and therefore, do not abandon their young because

of any human smells.

Once the female lays eggs and incubation starts, it is best to stay away from

the birdhouse. Nevertheless, keep monitoring the movements of the birds

from a distance to reduce any problems with predators.

Monitoring after the Fledglings fly-off

This post-season monitoring helps you to understand the level of success

with that year’s breeding. You can look for the two main parts of the hatched

eggs; cap and membrane. The number of membranes indicates the number

of young ones. You might come across a dead fledgling or an unhatched egg.

It’s sad, but an egg that was not hatched is generally too old to eat and

much too old to try to hatch on your own.

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Cleaning the Birdhouses

Once the bird family flies off from the birdhouse, you have to clean the

birdhouse to prevent parasites and other insects from taking over.

Sometimes mice get in and make the birdhouse unusable for the future.

Throw away the old nest and put in clean wood shavings in place of the old

ones. You can then leave the birdhouse through the winter months, as

screech owls could use it for their roost.

The birds do not usually use the wood shavings to build their nest. It is just a

sign that that the area is clean. They will use your house to build their nest

with what they bring in to it.

If you intend to keep other animals from nesting in your birdhouse during the

winter months, it is best to dismantle the birdhouse and clean it with a mild

chlorine solution. This kills all germs and bacteria. You can dry the birdhouse

and tuck it away for use in the next breeding season.

Use rubber gloves and face protection masks for cleaning old nests to protect

yourself from dust and other organisms like viruses.

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Part-VIII: Birdhouse Designs

21. Different Birdhouse Designs

There are many different designs of birdhouses. These birdhouses suit

different species of birds.

Common Birdhouse Designs

Purple Martin House

Purple martins are among the most popular nesting birds. These birds

naturally nest in cavities and woodpecker holes. They are colonial birds and

prefer staying in groups. They move out only if the group becomes too big.

Hence, birdhouses also need to be big and apartment-type, consisting of as

many as four big rooms.

Purple Martin homes should be easy to clean without dismantling. Sparrows

find such houses very attractive and easy to nest. However, you have to

clear sparrow nests regularly to entice purple martins to nest in such

apartment birdhouses. Place such birdhouses near springs, lakes, and ponds

as purple martins love being near water.

See Purple Martin Birdhouse Design

Passerine Nest Box

These birdhouses are most suitable for small birds like black-capped

chickadee, eastern bluebird, tree swallow, great-crested flycatcher, house

wren, nuthatches and others of similar size. These birdhouses have an

entrance hole of 1¼ to 1½ inch diameter at a height of six to seven inches

from the floor. You can make small changes in the interiors and entrance

holes of these birdhouses to accommodate a few other species of birds, too.

Wood Duck Nest box

Wood ducks are cavity-nesting ducks. These ducks need huge nesting holes

and cavities and cannot increase the size of available ones. They prefer nests

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close to the water although some also nest within a range of one mile from

it. These ducks also habitually dump their eggs in other bird’s nests.

Ideally, birdhouses for wood ducks should have galvanized mesh of ¼ inch

below the entrance hole. Such nesting ducks use the nest houses for only a

day after hatching of eggs. So, such galvanized mesh can help the baby

ducklings to climb in and out and jump into the water too. The bottom of the

box should have about three inches of wood shavings. The best place to keep

these birdhouses is on poles in water or near open areas so the ducks can fly

into them through the entrance hole.

See Wood Duck Plans

Wren Houses

Wren houses are the most common and simplest birdhouses. Lightweight

materials are all that is needed to make these birdhouses with compact

rooms of 6 x 6 x 12”, hinged doors, special attics and individual porches.

Hinged doors help you to monitor the nests, eggs and young ones. It also

makes it easier for you when cleaning the interior once the birds fly away.

The compact rooms are ideal for birds like wrens. The attics provide the

necessary warmth to the birds.

Essential Features of Your Birdhouses

Whatever the design, there are certain essentials for any birdhouse. These

are:

¾ A slanted roof over the entrance hole allows rainwater to run off and

shades the birdhouse from the sun.

¾ Adequate ventilation holes in the back and sidewalls of the birdhouse

help keep the interiors cool. There should not be any holes on the top.

¾ Drain holes are necessary at the floor of the birdhouse to prevent any

stagnation of rainwater that gets inside. Baby birds could drown in

such stagnated water.

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¾ The interior should have rough patches with grooves for young birds to

grip and climb in and out of the birdhouse.

¾ Nesting birds do not need any perches on the outside of their house,

which are more of a hindrance. Predators and other bigger birds often

use these perches to disturb and take away the young ones.

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22. Birdhouse Design Tips

There are certain points that you have to keep in mind while making a

birdhouse. A well-built birdhouse is one that protects the adults and the

young birds from rain and heat, while it is also easy to clean, durable and,

most importantly, safe.

1. You need to research what kinds of birds you prefer in your location. After

that, find out which of those birds might use a birdhouse. Some birds like

their nests in trees and some others prefer to raise their young on the

ground or in burrows.

2. Determine the right configuration of the birdhouse. Different birds require

different-sized birdhouses with varied entrance holes.

3. Use natural wood to build the birdhouse. Do not use treated woods, as the

chemicals used in their construction may harm the birds. Do not use plastics

and metals, as they tend to overheat in the sun.

4. Ventilation holes are essential for a birdhouse; make slots near the roof

but not on the roof or they may let rainwater drip in. Drainage holes are also

essential for preventing the babies from drowning.

5. The roof should be slanted and extend over the entrance hole. This

prevents rainwater from accumulating and protects the house from sun and

rain.

6. Avoid a perch under the entrance hole, as this is an open invitation to the

predators.

7. Dirty nests attract mites and parasites. To be able to easily clean the

nests, make a door or removable sidewall or roof.

8. Place some grooves on the inside or roughen up the interior of the walls,

just beneath the entrance hole to make it easier for the chicks to get in and

out.

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9. Do not paint inside any birdhouse. If you paint the outside, use a paint

that does not contain lead. Apply light colors, which will reflect light in

summer and keep the house cool. Use natural woods like cedar or redwood

to avoid painting where possible.

10. While you are setting the locations of your birdhouses, attach them to

wood or metal posts or trees. Have the entrance face away from the

prevailing winds.

11. If you choose to mount the birdhouse to a post, see that the house is

protected from predators like snakes and cats by attaching a metal collar or

baffle.

12. Maintain adequate distance between the houses as the birds become

very territorial during the nesting periods.

13. Place the birdhouse at a proper height.

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23. Directions for Building a Birdhouse

Birdhouses should ideally be of lumber of thickness of ¾ inches. The most

common wood includes cedar, cypress, and pine. Wood has self-insulating

properties that help to keep the interiors cool in summer and warm in winter

for the birds.

Different birds have different preferences for birdhouses. Some birds, like

cardinals, doves and mockingbirds nest in bushes and trees. Some others

make their homes in burrows or along the ground. Only cavity-nesting birds

will use birdhouses for nesting. Such birds include flickers, chickadees,

bluebirds, purple martins, woodpeckers and others.

Steps for Making a Birdhouse

Cut wood according to the preferred dimensions for the particular type of bird

species that you want to nest in your birdhouse. Apply waterproof glue

across the joints and then fix the bottom to the sides. Glue and nail the back

to the bottom sides and place the inside supports in their positions.

Make the entrance hole about two inches from the bottom of the birdhouse.

Place the roof pieces and glue them together. Thereafter nail them across the

railing edges. Put the birdhouse upside down and fix the floor of the

birdhouse in place. Use hinges to help with easy dismantling for cleaning

after the breeding season. A hinged roof allow for regular monitoring of the

health and activities of the birds and their chicks.

Make an adequate number of small holes in the back and sidewalls to allow

free ventilation. Make some drainage holes on the floor to allow any seepage

of water to drain out.

Essential Tips

¾ Always place feeders at a distance from the birdhouses. Similarly, do

not put any food into the birdhouses, as this attracts predators and

insects too.

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¾ Do not paint the inside the birdhouse. The smell of paint is harmful to

birds. Birds might accidentally peck at the peeling paint, thinking it to

be food. Ingesting such paint is dangerous for birds. Paints often

contain lead or creosote, both of which are harmful.

¾ If you want to paint, you can paint the exterior of your birdhouse with

a non-toxic paint. Use light shades that reflect the sunlight and keep

the inside of the birdhouse cool. Using shades that blend into the

environment makes things more safe for your winged friends. It can

shield them from the eyes of predators like cats, raccoons, and

snakes. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly before you set up the

birdhouse ready for the birds.

¾ Always remove old nests and clean the birdhouse with a chlorine

solution. Old nests contain parasites and bacteria that can cause

infection to the new birds. Normally, most birds do not nest in

birdhouses that have old nests still in them.

¾ Do not keep any perches near the birdhouse as this attracts and helps

predators. Nesting birds do not require any perches.

¾ A thin layer of petroleum jelly on the roof keeps wasps, bees and other

insects from living in the birdhouses.

¾ Plain, untreated lumber is best for making birdhouses. Exterior grade

plywood contains formaldehyde and pressure treated lumber contains

toxic preservatives. These chemicals are deadly to birds. Metal and

plastic constructions may become like heated ovens for the birds.

¾ Use metal baffles on poles and fence posts when placing your

birdhouse on such places. A metal baffle can prevent cats and snakes

from climbing up the posts.

¾ Maintain adequate distances between birdhouses. Otherwise, territorial

fights can keep all your birdhouses empty.

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¾ There should be adequate distance between birdhouse and your

house, too. The young ones could find the noise and din of your house

too disturbing.

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24. A Birdhouse for Beginners

Beginners can try their skills at making this simple birdhouse with the

minimum of materials and tools.

You need a pine board measuring 5’1” x 6”, 1 5/8” galvanized screws and

few two inch galvanized finishing nails. A handsaw, power drill, and a spade

bit can help you to shape your birdhouse.

Cut out two equal 10” pieces from the width of the board for the front and

top of the birdhouse. Next, cut a 7 ¾” piece for the back and a 4” piece for

the floor. Cut out the two sides that are 8” on one side and 10” on the other.

Make a small entrance hole at about 2 ½” from the top of the front piece. The

diameter of the hole might range from 1½” for eastern and western bluebirds,

1 9/16” for mountain bluebirds, 1¼” for tufted titmice and 1 1/8” for chickadees.

Attach the front to the sides with appropriate screws. You can remove these

screws to clean the birdhouse thoroughly at the end of the season. Attach

the back to the sides with appropriate nails.

Cut off ½” from each corner of the floor for easy drainage. Attach the floor to

the back and sides with nails. Do not attach from the front, as that would

pose difficulties when cleaning the birdhouse. Then, attach the roof to the

sides with appropriate screws.

Your birdhouse is ready for occupation.

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25. Purple Martin Birdhouse

Purple martins nest in colonies. These birdhouses should, ideally, be close to

bodies of water and in open spaces. The males come to search of nesting

places around April.

Build a six-room, double storied apartment for the purple martins. Make

slanted roofs and cover with asphalt shingles or tarpaper to give adequate

protection for the birdhouse. Paint the rest of the birdhouse in white to

reflect the heat and keep the interiors cool.

Make a bottom support with two crosspieces of ¾” x 4” x 19½”. Place it on

top of a 4” x 4” post at a good height from the ground. Fix it with 6” x 8”

shelf bracket or heavy angle iron brackets.

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26. Milk Carton Birdhouse

Different species of birds have specific preferences for the size of their

birdhouses, the height of the birdhouse from the ground, size of the entrance

hole and the width of the floor.

A milk carton birdhouse suits common birds like nuthatches, chickadees, tree

swallows, house wrens and titmice.

How to make a Milk Carton Birdhouse

You only need two empty half-gallon milk

cartons, a sharp pencil or compass, ruler,

scissors, stapler and wire.

Directions

Open the top of one milk carton and make two

holes on each sidewall. Pass wire through these

two side holes for strapping the box to a tree.

Make a roof 3 ¾” wide with two sides of a

carton. Fold the carton to form a slanting roof

with a ridge.

Staple the roof along the ridge. Give a greater overhang on the side of the

entrance hole. This will prevent rainwater from seeping in through the

entrance hole. Bend over and flatten the ends of any wires or staples to

prevent injury to the birds. Staple the top of the milk carton to close the gap.

Make a 1 2/3 inch entrance hole at a height of 6 inches from the bottom of the

carton. Poke a few ventilation holes and drainage holes.

Paint with waterproof paint and strap the house to tree with wire straps.

Fix the birdhouse to a tree at a height of five to eight feet from the ground.

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27. Free Woodworking Birdhouse

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28. Bluebird Birdhouse

You can make a bluebird birdhouse using simple materials and tools. This

can be a good project for beginners in woodworking, Scouts, or Youth

groups.

Materials Required

A piece of six-foot long 1” x 6” lumber

A few wood screws

An eye screw

Finishing nails

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Directions

Cut out;

1. one back piece of 5.5” x 13.5”,

2. one front piece of 5.5” x 9”,

3. one roof of 5.5” x 7.5”,

4. two sides of 5.5” x 9”, and

5. a bottom piece of 5.5” x 4”.

Cut all these pieces from the six-foot lumber.

Make an oval shaped entrance hole, 1 3/8” in width and 2 ¼” length. Mark and

drill out this hole on the topside of the front piece.

Make two small holes in the top of the two side-pieces. These are ventilation

holes. Make four small holes on the bottom piece for drainage.

Use wood screws to fix one of the sides to the bottom piece. Fix the front and

back-sides to the same piece.

Complete the house by placing the second side into place and fix it with two

nails; one close to the top of each side. These nails should be across from

each other to function as a hinge.

Put your hand into the box and push the bottom of the second side to open

out like a hinged roof. Check if the opening is very tight. In that case, reopen

the nails and sand the edges of the side. This would make the side a little

smaller and help in the smooth opening of the side after fixing like a pivot.

Fix the eye screw near the bottom of the second side. This screw helps you

open the box for monitoring the activity and health of the birds. Further, it

will be useful when you clean the birdhouse at the end of the season.

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Make a small hole near the bottom, close to the second side. Push a bent nail

or a small wood screw into the hole to keep it closed.

Place the bluebird birdhouse on a tree, fencepost or pole. Use some reliable

type of predator guard to keep away snakes, cats and squirrels.

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29. Eastern Bluebird Birdhouse

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30. Western and Mountain Bluebird Birdhouse

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31. Traditional Cedar Birdhouse

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Items Required:

¾ One 1 inch x 6 inches x 5 feet long cedar fence board

¾ Thirty-five 1- 1½ long finish nails

¾ One tube outdoor wood glue

¾ Four inch 3/8 diameter round wood dowel

All parts to be made from 1 inch x6 inches (5-1/2" wide by 3/4" thick) cedar

fence board.

Therefore, not all dimensions shown five and half inches will need cutting. If

a board other than five and half inches wide is used, more cuts will be

required.

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Step-One – Make two sidewall panels as illustrated in fig: 01.

Step-Two – Make one-front wall panel as illustrated in fig: 02.

Step-Three – Make one back wall as illustrated in fig: 03.

Step-Four – Assemble two sides - front and back panels as illustrated in fig:

04.

Step-Five – Make one bottom panel by placing assembled walls on top of

the extra large, future bottom panel, board as illustrated in fig: 05.

Step-Six – Make one right roof panel and one left roof panel as illustrated in

fig: 06 (a) and fig: 06 (b).

Step-Seven – Set up roof panels on house walls as illustrated in fig: 07 (a)

and fig: 07 (b).

Step-Eight – Cut a four-inch long piece of 3/8 inch diameter wood dowel

and join the pieces as illustrated in fig: 08.

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32. Cedar Fence Picket Birdhouse

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33. Northern Flicker Birdhouse

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34. Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers

Birdhouse

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35. Free Birdhouse Plan

Make a simple gift of a birdhouse from cheap plywood scraps of ½” and ¼”

for your family members and friends. You can do this very cheaply. With

minimum materials, you can complete your gift in no time.

Materials Required

¾ ½” plywood for a pair of bottom sides and inside supports

¾ ¼” plywood for front and back cut into 5 7/8” squares

¾ ¼” plywood for roof sections of 7” x 5”

¾ Hammer, sandpaper, waterproof glue and nontoxic paint, if needed

¾ ½” finishing nails, 1 3/8” hole saw and a bit of ¼”

¾ 5" length of dowel for the top

Apply waterproof glue across the sides of each joint and then insert the nails

while keeping them in position. Glue the two bottom sides in a diagonal

shape. Then, glue and nail the back side to the bottom sides. Similarly, glue

and then nail the inside supports.

Drill the entrance hole in the front piece about two inches from the top with

the whole saw.

Smooth all the edges and the inner parts of the birdhouses with sandpaper

before finally nailing the front piece. Apply glue and then nail the front to the

bottom sides with the inside supports too.

Align the roof parts so that they make a pointed tip at the top without any

overlapping. Glue and nail all the parts of the roof perfectly. The roof

overhangs the sides to provide adequate cover from rain and predators too.

Glue the 5” dowel between the roof sections to give a complete look. Use

sandpaper on all surfaces to make it smooth without any rough edges.

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Your birdhouse is now ready for you to paint if you want. However, use

nontoxic paint and on the exteriors only. Birds do not like the smell of paint

in the inside their home.

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36. Gourd Birdhouse

If you fancy the company of birds and want them in your location, try the

Gourd Birdhouse. This is very old-fashioned, but still a favorite with many

people.

You can easily grow a gourd at your home or buy one from your local

farmer’s market. The classic bottlenecked shaped gourds make very good

Birdhouses. They have a natural place to tie the string.

You can carve two tiny holes on the neck of the gourd to put a cord through

it.

You can paint or stain the gourds but they will be just fine if you just let

them stay natural. A properly preserved home gourd lasts for years. Some

have been reported to last 30 years.

Materials Required To Build a Gourd House.

¾ One bottle gourd of your choice.

¾ Some disinfectant. You can use bleach.

¾ Steel wool for cleaning.

¾ Some wood preservative.

¾ Primer, preferably oil based.

¾ White enamel paint again oil based.

¾ plastic-coated copper wire, 24 inches long.

¾ A facemask.

¾ A power drill

¾ 21/8 inch keyhole saw.

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Things to know when making a gourd nest -

Gourd dust is a caustic substance! You must protect yourself from it. Always

wear a mask while working on it.

Do not detach the stem from the gourd. Rinse it in a solution of 1 part

disinfectant and 10 parts water. Then, wipe it dry.

Let the gourd hang in a sunny spot or wrap it in a newspaper and keep in a

warm place for 3 to 6 months. If it is lying flat, remember to turn it once a

while.

If the seed rattles when you shake the gourd, it means the gourd is dry. You

can now start building your birdhouse.

After soaking the gourd for 15 minutes in hot detergent water, scrape the

outer skin with a blunt knife. Then scrub the gourd with steel wool. Allow it to

dry after you have rinsed it well.

Make the entrance hole measuring 21/8 inch, along the outermost part of the

curve, facing straight out and not towards the sky or the ground.

Use a keyhole saw to carve the entrance. It is advisable to cut the hole

immediately after washing.

Make proper drainage holes in the bottom of the gourd.

Drill two more holes at the top, one for ventilation and the other for hanging.

Scrape the seeds and membranes from the entrance hole with a spoon.

You can use non-toxic wood preservatives for this gourd.

Use only exterior enamel paint and only nylon brushes. Check that you do

not clog the drainage holes while painting the gourd.

Hang the gourd in an open space at the height of 10 to 15 feet to attract

birds.

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After one species departs, clean the house thoroughly, ready for the next

arrival.

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Part-IX: Birdhouses - Frequently Asked Questions

37. Birdhouses Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal size of the Birdhouse entrance hole?

Different birds are different sizes. Keep in mind the type of birds you want in

your birdhouse. You must learn about the birds you want to attract. The

Internet is a great place to search for information on different birds.

Where can I find Cedar Fence Pickets?

You can buy one from the lumberyard. Their standard size is usually 5 ½

inches to 5 ¾ inches and about ½ to ¾ inches thick.

I want to paint my Birdhouse. Is it safe to do that?

Paint with unleaded paint and keep the colors natural.

What can I use to hang my Birdhouse, apart from clothes

hanger wire?

You can also use rope, if you wish to. However, you have to check that it is

sturdy enough to last long and endure the change of weather. I prefer

clothes hanger wire as they are more durable. You need to change rope

every year if you use one.

Can I nail the Birdhouse in place instead of using screws?

Nails can be used, but screws are better. Nails tend to pull out of the wood

after several seasons and this may be dangerous to the little babies. You can

easily remove screws and cleaning becomes much easier.

Why do advertisements read, ‘Perch optional’

only for display, do not use?’

Perches are an open invitation to the predators. The nesting birds do not

need perches. The more people have studied birds, the more they learn.

Having a perch is for looks, not for practical purposes.

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What is a ‘Rubber Hose’? Is it similar to garden hose?

A Rubber Hose is a hose something like a fuel line. You can see one at you

mechanic’s garage. You could use an old garden hose to pass the wire but I

think it will wear out quickly with the wire passing through it.

At what height should I build Purple Martin’s Birdhouse?

A birdhouse for Purple Martins can be 20 feet off the ground as a minimum,

but it may be better if you can place it a little higher; say 40 or 60 feet.

What kind of roof should I make for the Purple Martin?

The roof needs to be slanted. It is better if you shingle the roof. This will

prevent rainwater from accumulating and will keep the house dry.

I used no wire when I hung the Birdhouse.

Can I do it now? And, if so - how?

It is not a problem; you can run the clothes hanger wire through the peak of

the roof, fold the ends, and twist a little to look like a typical clothes hanger.

However, it is best to use screws when putting the roof together.

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Another eBookWholesaler Publication

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