Birdhouses 101 - Birdhouse Design and its Variations

BirdHouses 101

Bird Houses 101 - Everything You Need to Know About Birdhouses, for North American Birds

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Bird House Designs and its Variations

A birdhouse should be built with a specific kind of bird in mind. While there are those that can live in almost any kind of enclosed shelter, most birds will prefer houses that resemble their natural nesting places in cavity size. Majority of the birds will occupy houses of only one compartment with a single entrance, but there are species that are known to live in colonies in apartment houses with 10 to 30 compartments. Others will not nest in enclosed birdhouses.

The design is basically a matter of personal sense of aesthetics. Birds are more concerned about their safety and comfort. Therefore, the right dimensions should be considered in providing a birdhouse. The box height, depth and floor, diameter of entrance hole and height of hole above the box floor are all important aspects for nesting birds. Other considerations would include ventilation, drainage, accessibility, limiting predator access and ease of maintenance.

The usual birdhouses are the closed type. A simple construction would consist of walls on all sides, a roof and a circular entrance that is large enough only to allow the desired bird to enter. The entrance is placed well above the middle of the compartment to protect the nestling from the weather and from predators. The roof of the birdhouse should be slanted to allow rainwater to drain and one or more small holes under the eaves to provide ventilation as well as a small hole in the floor to permit drainage. A wooden perch placed beneath the entrance is not recommended since it may be used by predators to get to the birds.

A birdhouse without ventilation is like an oven that will suffocate the birds. Water that sits at the bottom of a birdhouse due to non-existent drainage invites parasites and diseases to attack. Entrance holes that are too big provide access to undesired animals like squirrels, mice or snakes. Predator guards are a necessary feature.

Most birdhouses can be opened from the top, front, side or bottom but boxes that open from the top and front provide the easiest access. Top opening is less likely to disturb nesting birds while side and front opening boxes are convenient for cleaning and monitoring. Bottom opening is likely to result to the nest falling out. Most cavity nesters such as the Eastern Bluebird, House Wren or Chickadee can comfortably nest in a birdhouse built for a single nest. Purple Martins are very comfortable with nesting boxes built for multiple birds.

There are some bird species that will not use enclosed birdhouses such as the Barn Swallow, Eastern Phoebe and Mourning Dove. They can be attracted through the use of nesting shelves which has a roof, back, bottom and narrow side walls with an open front. These shelves should be placed under overhangs and eaves. The species that it attracts are the so-called open nesters that build their nest on open branches of trees or shrubs.

Other bird species are classified as platform nesters. Platforms are open on all four sides and are usually placed in shrubs. Bird species such as Catbirds prefer to nest in platforms mounted near the ground, on walls behind shrubbery or under eaves and on fence lines covered with vines. There are also gazebo types mounted in bushes. Since platforms are open on all four sides, the corner posts must be able to support the roof. This is a good alternative for other birds that prefer to have their nest in a somewhat similar environment when natural nesting sites are not available.

Readers Comments

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megan smith  11/30/2006)
these are amazing birds love em to death

will smith  11/30/2006)
hey just sayin hi to all my peeps

james  rakes  3/5/2007)
this birdhouse story is real good

Harry Ast  4/20/2007)
Thats one hard birdhouse

rachel R  1/20/2008)
love em all, last 1 most!

dj ruy  1/22/2008)
these are very nice designs

mike hunt  2/15/2008)
that was so freakin hard to build but i like hard things

Abbi Brook  3/2/2008)
These birdhouses are really neat. I like how they are made.

taylor dorsett  3/14/2008)
These articals realy help me with my science fair project.

Tyler Coubrough  3/21/2008)
ok so how do you build one...ya bird houses are great but i want to build one

hug alot  3/30/2008)
kwl pictures

bob gart  3/30/2008)
hi they r a nice bird houses

ciara brown  4/23/2008)
These bird houses are really pretty

Vincent L.  5/21/2008)
Im so grateful to my Lord and to my friends who love birds.Thank you so much for this service. You are so thoughful and willing to share and to teach others. This is a great honor.

victoria danner  5/28/2008)
i think these r really kool i like them a lot i did 1 and it wasnt tht hard but wasnt eaisly eaither but ti was nothing like as good as these and im reallt liking the bird house with the bricks and the old 1 tht looks liek it bout 2 fall love it and i really like all of them

w w  7/16/2008)
very nice site!! keep up the good work!

Lola Leafe  5/25/2016)
I love these exotic birds their SWEET!!!!!

RuThY   5/25/2016)
check out these birdhouses they're great

RuThY    5/25/2016)
how cool that you have this info because i'm making a birdhouse and these pictures really helped me as models!!!!

DIY er  5/25/2016)
Great article I designed my own birdhouse and posted it on this blog that might be helpful to everyone.

Keith Briggs  5/25/2016)
Are there any types of wood other than pressure treated that should be avoided? Some woods like cedar and teak are very aromatic, so I was wondering if birds would not like this?

danielle bark  5/25/2016)
i absolutely love all these birdhouses they are so marvelous! i wish i could make some that looked like these but i have a life and no talent.

POOOP poopy  5/25/2016)
these look like poopy

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