Bird House Selection
Birds you can attract
Nesting Box Chart
Protection from Predators
Landscaping for Birds
Wren & Chickadee House
Bird House, Nest View
Lady Bug House
Wood is just about the best building material for any bird house. It's durable, has good insulating qualities and breathes.
Three-quarter-inch thick bald cypress and red cedar are recommended. Pine and exterior grade plywood will do, but they are not as durable.
It makes no difference whether the wood is slab, rough-cut or finished, as long as the inside has not been treated with stains or preservatives. Fumes from the chemicals could harm the birds.
There's no need to paint cypress and cedar, but pine and plywood
houses will last longer with a coat of water-based exterior latex paint.
White is the color for purple martin houses. Tan, gray or dull green
works best for the other cavity nesting species.
The dull, light colors
reflect heat and are less conspicuous to predators. Don't paint the
inside of the box or the entrance hole.
Regardless of which wood you select, gluing all
the joints before you nail them will extend the life
of your bird house. Galvanized or brass shank
nails, hinges and screws resist rusting and hold
boxes together more tightly as they age.
Resist the temptation to put a metal roof on your
bird house. Reflective metal makes sense for
martin houses up on a sixteen-foot pole, but when
it's tacked onto the roof of a wood chickadee house, the shiny metal
is more likely to attract predators.
Natural gourds make very attractive bird houses. They breathe, and
because they sway in the wind they are less likely to be taken over by
house sparrows and starlings.
Grow your own gourds and you'll have dozens to choose from in the
years ahead. If you don't have the space to grow them, a coat of
polyurethane or exterior latex (on the outside only) will add years to
the one you have.
Properly designed pottery, aluminum (for purple martins only),
concrete and plastic houses are durable, but don't drop them.
Gourd houses are the easiest to set up. String them from a wire between two poles, from a sectional aluminum pole, or on pulleys mounted to a crossbar high up on a pole.
You can mount lightweight aluminum houses for martins on telescoping poles, providing easy access for maintenance and
inspection. Because of their weight (more than 30 pounds), wood houses should not be mounted on telescoping poles. You'll have to use a sturdy metal or a wood pole attached to a pivot post. The problem with this lowering technique is that you can't tilt the house without damaging the nests inside. If you put your house on a shorter, fixed pole, ten to twelve feet high, you can use a ladder to inspect and maintain it.