Friday, January 26, 2007

Get Your Bird Houses Ready for Nesting

From Cornell Birds

© 2006 Donna L. Watkins - Eastern Bluebird
It's time to get new birdhouses placed before the breeding season begins. In the south, that's by February and in northern areas, it's March. If you want to build your birdhouses as an indoor project during the winter, here's a site with lots of plans.

Because different species of birds prefer different kinds of nesting habitat, the habitat surrounding your box will play a role in determining which species will nest in it. Get detailed information on types of boxes needed and habitat to place them in for specific birds at this site:

A word of caution:
Don't attract birds to an area that will poison them. Avoid areas where pesticides and herbicides are used. They are harmful to birds and decrease necessary insect populations that the birds rely on as their primary source of food. Golf courses, cultivated fields, gardens, and yards are potentially good habitats if there are no chemicals used.

If you are looking to attract a variety of species to your nest boxes and have ample room, you might consider pairing your boxes. This involves placing boxes in pairs on poles 15 to 25 feet apart; or you can put two boxes, back to back, on a single pole. Birds such as Tree Swallows and bluebirds will nest closely to one another. Pairing boxes has the advantage of allowing more birds of both species to coexist peacefully within the same habitat.

In a pinch, small nest boxes can be mounted on fence posts or trees. If you wish to attach a box to a living tree, do not use nails. Rather, slip a strand of galvanized wire through the vent holes and attach a bungee cord to both ends. Stretch the bungee cord around the tree, preferably over a limb. Remember however, that hanging boxes from trees provides an easy route for predators to reach the box.

Whichever method you choose to erect your boxes, be sure your box is secure enough to withstand high winds and severe weather. The best way to erect small nest boxes is on free-standing metal poles or PVC pipes. These pipes or poles offer several advantages:

* Nest boxes can be mounted higher than when mounted on a fence post.
* Many predators find poles difficult to climb.
* Poles can also be easily equipped with a predator guard.

View construction plans for predator guards.

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