Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Winter Is Time For Birdhouses

By Cynthia Berger, National Wildlife Federation

Because many birds are busy shopping for their spring nesting sites, winter is the perfect time to put up birdhouses around your property

I thought I’d hate being a landlord. But my tenants are great: They’re pleasant to have around, they have strong family values and I like their music. Now I’m even thinking of acquiring more units. You see, my “rental” is a wooden birdhouse, mounted on a pole at the back of my yard, and the tenants that move in each spring are a pair of Carolina wrens.

If you’d like to try your hand at being a bird landlord, this is a good time to get in the game. Right now — in the middle of winter — is a perfect period to put up backyard birdhouses, because the cold months are actually when many species that use these accommodations are shopping for their seasonal homes.

“A lot of birds start prospecting as early as January or February in the mid-Atlantic region where I live,” says NWF Chief Naturalist Craig Tufts. “We tell people to have boxes up no later than March 1.”

Don’t expect every bird you see in your backyard to be attracted by your offer of a cozy room. “People are always calling me to ask, ‘How do I get the redbird to go in the box?’” says Keith Kridler, another Cornell volunteer and expert on birdhouse design who lives in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. “Not going to happen!”

Redbirds (a.k.a. northern cardinals) simply don’t care for the confines of a birdhouse — they build their open-cup nests in the concealment of a conifer or shrub. Read the entire article.

Building a great birdhouse doesn’t have to be complicated. Try this one-board birdhouse, perfect for first-time builders! Although the design is for a bluebird box, the size will meet the needs of many species of birds that visit your backyard. Start building.

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