Birdhouses – Something to tweet about
There’s a lot to be said about birdhouses.
For starters, they attract bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches, and tufted titmice among the more than four dozen North American bird species that normally nest in tree holes. Not only that, birdhouses are centers of activity as birds go about building nests, laying eggs, and feeding their young. And, whether plain or fancy, colorful or camouflage-inspired, birdhouses ooze charm.
Before building or buying a birdhouse, decide what kind of birds you want to attract. Specific nest box dimensions, entrance hole size, and entrance hole placement appeal to different bird species. Materials, too, matter. Generally, birdhouses constructed of wood “breathe,” making them less likely to overheat than metal or ceramic models. For durability, opt for naturally weather resistant woods such as redwood, cedar, or cypress. (Avoid birdhouses constructed from chemically preserved wood).
Nest boxes with slightly sloping roofs that overhang the sides and entrance hole, floors with drainage holes, and ventilation slots beneath the rooflines optimize ventilation and drainage. A hinged side or top simplifies cleaning and inspection.
Contrary to what some bird-lovers believe, cavity-nesting birds do not require a perch to enter a birdhouse. However, wire mesh or a series of shallow, horizontal grooves situated below the entrance hole on the inside of the box helps fledglings leave the nest.
And, remember, it’s never too early to install a birdhouse. Bluebirds and chickadees begin house hunting in early spring. Often, by mid-March or April garden birds are sitting on their first clutch of eggs. Some birds continue nesting through June, raising a second or even third brood.
Many bird species, including bluebirds, appreciate nest boxes that are securely mounted on sturdy fence posts or poles. Install a predator guard (metal or plastic cone-shaped collar) over the pole below the birdhouse. Deter additional predator attacks by adding an entrance hole extender.
Once your birdhouse is in place, there are many things to tweet about. First, parent birds gather nest materials. Next, mother birds lay eggs and hatch nestlings. Then comes the flurry of feeding the young. Finally, one by one, the fledglings take flight.
Not surprisingly, as the miracle of nature unfolds, many folks discover that the most endearing, engaging, and memorable tweets come from the birds themselves.