Some species like dense foliage,
others prefer open branch tips.
Even the age of the tree can be a
factor. For instance, goldfinches
like young trees, while robins prefer
mature growth. Still other species,
such as swallows, look for ledges
on which to build their nests.
When it isn't possible to add to
the natural nesting sites in your
yard, it's time to consider
artificial alternatives. Far from
being a negative solution, man-
made nest boxes have been
extremely important in the
conservation movement.
Nesting boxes were instrumental
in building up the declining
numbers of such species as wood
ducks and bluebirds. Mallards have
benefited from this practice in
Europe for over 300 years, and
they have been used in this
country for nearly a century.
Many Species
Use Nesting Boxes
In North America, at least 50
species of birds accept birdhouses
as nesting sites. As natural
habitat decreases, it becomes
more and more critical to offer
these new "cavities."
We sometimes forget that there
are many variables when it comes
to breeding and nesting. Some
birds nest in a geographic area far
away from where you are feeding
By doing some research, you can
save yourself from trying to
attract a particular species that
will never breed in your area.
Climate and habitat changes
influence the presence of some
species. Birds that you have seen
in the past may become scarce,
while new ones may suddenly
Many birds are territorial and
won't tolerate another nest of the
same species within a certain
area, while others live in colonies
with hundreds of individuals
crammed into close quarters.
While most will build a new nest
each year, and even for each brood
in the same season, others repair
old nests and reuse them again
and again.
It becomes obvious that "one
size fits all" doesn't hold true for
birds any more than it does for
Size is Important
With this in mind, it is important
to know what kinds of birds breed
in your area, and which ones you
hope to attract, before purchasing
or building any kind of nesting box.
Many species are particular about
the dimensions of their home, so
you should avoid generic birdhouse
Of major importance is the size
of the entrance. Ideally, it will be
large enough to admit the bird
that you hope to attract, but will
be too small for more aggressive
birds to enter.
Fancy, decorative birdhouses are
wonderful accents in the garden,
but birds prefer houses which are
unobtrusive and don't have lots of
trimmings that can interfere with
quick entry. With a few exceptions,
notably purple martins, birds like
single-nest houses.
It usually is possible to put up
at least ten houses per acre as
long as they are designed for
different species.
The materials used in building a
birdhouse should be weather-
resistant and offer some
insulation. Wood (1/2" - 3/4" thick)

Homes for Birds:

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