Emily White

It is entertaining and educational to watch birds as they go through the many stages of their lives, including choosing a nest site, making the nest, laying eggs, feeding their babies, and then, watching the fledglings as they venture out on their own.

Many people are choosing to bring this experience up close by placing nesting boxes around their backyards to house some of the many birds that would normally be looking for a hollow tree cavity. The following are a few tips to help you have a successful nesting season.

1. Bird House Specifications - Things to look for when choosing a house:
• Designed for the bird’s size and nesting requirements.
• Ventilation holes to provide a release for heat build-up.
• Easily cleaned.
• Easily mounted or hung.
• Durable to withstand several seasons of use.
• Drainage holes in the bottom of the house.

2. Bird House Nesting Materials
Birds use a variety of materials to construct their nests. The wren starts his nest with a bundle of sticks, the chickadee likes lots of soft fluff on top of a moss base, the bluebird uses grasses and pine needles, and the tree swallow gathers large bird feathers to line a shallow nest of grass and roots. Usually there is no lack of these materials in the wild, but you can encourage birds to use your houses by placing Birdie Bell nesting materials near the boxes.

Another trick is to stuff chickadee and woodpecker bird houses with cedar chips. They prefer birdhouses with something to excavate.

3. Bird House Direction
In northern areas such as ours, the birds prefer the early morning sun coming in the front of the house as it faces the east. Put the houses where you can view them, but bird houses facing in easterly directions fledge more young than houses facing in other directions. If this is not possible, southeast or south (away from north/west winds) would be the next choice.

4. Bird House Location
Remember, not all birds use bird houses. Cardinals, goldfinches, doves, jays, hummingbirds and orioles would never use a house because they build their own nests in trees or shrubs. Cavity nesters like chickadees and wrens like their bird houses placed 5 to 10 feet high near the cover of a bush or small tree.

Bluebirds and Tree swallows choose fairly open areas interspersed with trees and shrubs. Experts recommend that bluebird boxes be 5 feet high and spaced at least 300' apart. To reduce the competition between bluebirds and swallows for houses, it is recommended to pair houses. Setting up a pair of houses, with each house no more than 5-10 feet apart every 300 feet, is one proven technique that allows both songbirds to nest together successfully.

5. Bird House Protection
Featherfields has metal portal protectors that you can add to most houses to prevent squirrels from chewing the entrances larger.

To protect the nest inside the house from unwanted predators reaching in and stealing eggs, attach the Predator Guard. These will prevent squirrels, raccoons, opossum and cats from bending their arms to reach the resident birds. Crows, Blue Jays and grackles can't get their bodies through the guard and are also deterred.

We also have baffles you can add to one of our birdhouse poles or wooden 4x4” poles. This will stop all squirrels and raccoons from climbing to the house.

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