How to Provide the Perfect Birdhouse How to Provide the Perfect Birdhouse
Nowadays, with a lack of mature trees in some areas, immaculately pruned back gardens and new and improved methods installed to keep birds out of the eaves, birds have fewer places to nest, making birdhouses increasingly in demand. Houses have been designed for just about every species of bird, from members of the tit family to birds of prey.
There are many birdhouses on the market to choose from, mostly made of wood, but some are made of aluminium or a mixture of concrete and sawdust, but take care, as they are not all suitable for the type of birds you hope to attract. Birds are very choosey about the boxes they pick and each species has different requirements, such as preference of hole size, how far off the ground the box should be, dimensions of the box, etc. A box with a hole too large for the bird will most definitely be a target for predators who may invade the box, killing the chicks or even taking the box over for themselves.
If you prefer, you could make your own birdhouse, but again make sure you make it suitable for the type of birds you wish to attract and ensure that all the materials you use are non-toxic - never paint the inside of the box. You will require a good quality timber - at least 2 cm thick - to provide good insulation and avoid warping and splitting. Remember not to make a perch for the outside of the hole, as it can encourage predators, and to extend the roof over the entrance of the box for extra protection against rain. Adequate ventilation and drainage too are essential to avoid overheating during hot weather or the box filling up with water during heavy rain and drowning the chicks.
It is important to provide easy access to the inside of the box, which will allow you to monitor the nest and perform an annual clean out - this is made easier by making the top or one side hinged. In the autumn, all old nesting material should be removed and the whole of the inside scraped and brushed out ready for the following year. It is also a good opportunity to perform any necessary external repairs on the box.
There is no set time to put up a birdhouse or any restrictions on how many you can put up in your garden, although late winter or early spring gives you the whole nesting season ahead. Position your box in a sheltered position away from wind, rain, strong sunlight and predators, such as cats. Make sure it is securely fixed, as birds dislike unsteady boxes.
It is impossible to know how soon your box will be occupied, but if you have had no interest after a year, then try moving it to a different position - even a few feet away can make all the difference. Birds actually inspect several boxes before deciding on a particular one, so having more boxes in your garden may increase your chances.
The type of habitat you provide will partly determine the species of birds that will nest in your garden; some birds prefer gardens with trees and dense shrubs, while others are quite happy to settle for more urban areas. The more variations in habitat you can offer, the greater variety of species you will attract. You can put up a variety of different houses to attract a variety of species, depending how much space you have available.
There are many varieties of bird food available to buy, which can be offered to increase your chances of attracting more birds into the garden. Once you have birds in your box, it can provide a great interest and can be particularly exciting for children. Experimenting with different ideas will help you to find out the most successful methods, which will hopefully give you many years of happy bird watching.