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Liven Up Your Lawn and Garden with Bird Houses

Love the sound of birds in early morning and evening hours?   Encourage your feathered friends to stay in your yard and garden by giving them places to live.   Not only will you have more songs to listen to but you'll decrease the insect population, too.

Each year humans destroy thousands of acres of natural bird habitat to build shopping centers and parking lots.  Cavity-nesting birds are most affected by this encroachment.  Increasing populations of starlings, sparrows and cats make safe nesting sites harder to find.  The addition of bird houses on our property allows us to do our part to restore the natural balance for our feathered friends.

Birds are particular about their little homes.   Though a few varieites will live anywhere they can find a bit of shelter from rain and wind, some species are particular and must be catered to. 

Bird House Kits
An ideal gift for bird lovers or a good project for children is a bird house kit.  These kits come with precut, predrilled cedar or wood material and are readily made into functional and/or decorative bird houses.   Little experience or skill is required for these kits which are often built for specific species of birds.

There is lots of room for creativity with such kits and children especially will love watching bird families move into the homes built for them and can follow the nesting and observe the baby birds as they grow throughout the season.  Most kits will have one removable panel for cleaning and it is important to carefully follow directions for painting and decorating the kit bird house to insure you are not using any products toxic to birds.

Martin Bird Houses
Purple Martins like open areas next to water and detest dense, thick vegetation under their bird house as it can hides predators. Martin houses are traditionally white and are mounted quite high on poles or rooftops.  Tops are often hinged and fastened with a hook and eye so boxes can be checked and cleaned periodically.

Unlike most birds, Purple Marins are communal and prefer residing in a colory.  Multiple houses of more than 24 holes are ideal for nesting of martins but before buying or building a three or four deck multi-compartent house for your martins make sure there is adequate in-hyouse ventilation.   The larger the martin bird house, the more sturdy the construction materials must be.

Purple Martins depend almost entirely on man-made nest boxes but will not inhabit a bird house that does not meet their needs for community, location, color or surroundings.   If your martin house has no guests, more than likely you need to relocate it.

Gourd Bird Houses
Gourd bird houses are nature’s own birdhouse. There is little to write down about building gourd bird houses. Just drill an appropriate size hole through the top of the neck of the gourd and pass a piece of thick wire through the holes, entwining the wires at the top to create a hanger for the birdhouse. If you wish other birds than purple martins to reside, attach the birdhouse to a pole so it does not swings in the breeze. Since gourds can actually be molded or shaped as they are grown, the creative possibilities of gourd bird houses are abundant. With careful handcrafting, you may soon find exotic bird species nesting in your backyard.

Wren Bird Houses
Wrens bubbling call and fervent energy make them one of the most pleasant backyard birds. House wrens readily nest in solidly supported birdhouses placed in-between five to ten feet above the ground. The protection of thick vegetation or trees is attractive to wrens. Wren house plans also dictate that these boxes should be built of good wood that will last several years in the outdoors. These plans further state that you may paint only the external surfaces using darker hues like brown or green color.

Wrens are dreadfully territorial and almost any other nesting bird in its territory is threatening. Wrens often claim all nest cavities anywhere near its own, and if other birds occupy these cavities, punctured eggs or dead nestlings are the common outcome. This appalling behavior of house wrens may distress some bird enthusiasts who discover “wren mayhem” in their bluebird boxes. For that reason, wren house plans specifically caution that when setting up wren birdhouses, one needs to ensure that natural cavities or nest boxes of other exotics or endangered species are not present within its vicinity.

Blue Bird House
The selection of a proper habitat for mounting bluebird houses is crucial. These birds thrive in open areas with few scattered trees. Bluebirds rarely nest in wooded areas and urban areas. Instead they prefer dwelling along the outer fringes of a forest or in an open clearing. Bluebirds will nest in birdhouses perched at almost any height, but very low placement increases the risks of predators, whereas very high placement attracts house sparrows which are much more aggressive and will attack blue birds.  Ideal height for blue birds seems to be about 7 feet from the ground.  Blue birds nest as solitary pairs but prefer nests close to other pairs so adding 2-3 nesting boxes in each general location is recommended.




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