Today, as I sipped my coffee and watched the sun rise over the roof of my neighbor’s house, I heard something I haven’t heard in a long time: bird song. I’m not sure of the species — I only know a few birds by their song and I couldn’t spy the singer through my window — but I can confidently say that at least one bird is already staking claim to his springtime gotta-raise-a-family territory. It’ll be weeks or longer before he secures a mate, and perhaps longer still before they build a nest and start incubating eggs. But, even so, the birdsong has begun.
This means it’s prime time to add new birdhouses to your yard. Cavity nesters — bluebirds, chickadees, titmice, and more — select their potential territories based on the availability of suitable nesting holes. If you want baby bluebirds in April, you need to set out your bluebird houses in February.
Build your own birdhouse
For the crafty among you, here’s a link to some DIY instructions for building a non-traditional but totally functional birdhouse –> DIY: Simple Bird House. The finished house should attract bluebirds, chickadees, titmice, and other smaller and mid-sized cavity nesters.
Buy a birdhouse (or two)
Not feeling up to yet another DIY project? No problem. There are gobs of attractive birdhouses out there. For best results, look for something that is easily cleaned at the end of each season. For most birds, a classic wooden house is the best choice:
This is a classic. Perfectly shaped for bluebirds, and topped with an attractive sheet of copper that helps protect the roof from water damage and also adds a bit of decor to the garden. These boxes are popular with birders for good reason: bluebirds (and others) love them.
Audubon Cedar Wren and Chickadee House
This one is similar to the bluebird house, but built with slightly smaller birds in mind. Chickadees, wrens and titmice will all nest here (although they will also use a bluebird house as well). As with the bluebird house, this nesting box is easily cleaned and is made of rugged cedar that will last for many seasons.
Backyard Boys Woodworking Nuthatch Nest Box
This unusual looking bird box is perfect for smaller cavity nesters, especially those that prefer to live close to the tree trunk, like nuthatches and brown creepers. For best results, mount this nest box directly to a mature tree. The hinged top lifts up, allowing for a quick peek at any eggs or babies, and an easy clean at the end of the nesting season.
Birds in your garden?
I haven’t done a tally recently, but I believe I have about 8 or 10 birdhouses of various shape and size in my half-acre yard. Most years, probably 1 in 3 are occupied, and the birds seem to move around from one to another with the seasons. How about you? Have you “planted” any birdhouses in your garden? Will you be adding any more this winter or spring?