Choosing The Right Backyard Birdhouse

Posted on: 15 January 2015


If you have a backyard that you'd like to turn into a bird paradise, hanging a birdhouse might be one of the first things you think of. There are many bird houses for sale, but not all of them attract birds equally or attract the same types of birds. Here are some things to think about as you shop for a birdhouse.

What's your bird habitat?

Different climate zones will affect what birds are attracted to your birdhouse. Also consider your backyard: in temperate North American climates, a wooded backyard will tend to attract chickadees, nuthatches and titmice. An open yard surrounded by other open areas will be more likely to bring in bluebirds, tree swallows and kestrels. Backyards with a water source such as a stream or pond will often attract wood ducks and swallows to houses. 

What kind of birds would you like to attract?

Of course, there's only so much you can do to influence what kinds of birds nest in your birdhouse. However, careful attention to the house can attract certain species over others. Particular attention should be given to matching the entrance hole diameter, house placement and interior size to the type of bird you wish to attract. Some species prefer completely different styles of birdhouses; purple martins nest in colonies and need 'apartment buildings' with multiple pods in which pairs can raise their young. Robins prefer nesting platforms that mimic the crotch of a tree.

Remember that not all birds will use man-made houses. Some of the birds you are likely used to seeing, such as goldfinches, juncos and sparrows, create their own nests out of grasses, sticks or mud. If you'd like to see these birds in your backyard, it's best to set up a feeder or birdbath.

Is the birdhouse easy to do maintenance on?

Buying a birdhouse won't be the end of your commitment to this project. Birdhouses require occasional cleaning to keep things healthy for the next pair. Especially if you have any sort of limited mobility, choose a house that can be placed on a pole or post so they are easy to install and remove. Many houses also have one removable wall to make access to the interior simple. 

How much space do you have?

If you're interested in hanging more than one birdhouse, it's important to look at how much space you have. Male birds can be territorial, especially during nesting season. To minimize conflict and attract a nesting pair to your additional houses, make sure that you're able to put sufficient space in between houses. A good rule of thumb is 10 feet between nesting boxes, but to attract certain species this distance will need to be greater.

Once you've picked out your perfect birdhouse, install it while keeping in mind which types of birds you'd like to attract. It's a good idea to also install a bird feeder and a water source, like a fountain or bird bath, to make your backyard habitat appealing to nesting pairs. After that, the hard work is over: sit back and wait for spring.