March is here and already some of our winter birds are staking out territories and looking for mates. Soon, our migrant birds will be returning from their wintering grounds and getting ready for the hectic nesting season. Now is the perfect time to put up nesting boxes and be ready for them! But birds nest all summer long, and usually make a new nest for each brood. So if you don’t get your houses up in March, you can still put them up later in the year. A common question from people who have never put up bird houses before is “Do I need to put nesting material in the box?” Nope, the birds will take care of that part all by themselves. However, offering nesting materials nearby will often encourage birds to use the boxes you’ve put out.
What kind of birds would you like to have nesting in your yard? Birds have specific needs in regards to habitat and nesting boxes. If you want bluebirds and put up a house more appropriate for chickadees, then you’re probably going to get chickadees. Here are some basic rules to follow when putting up bird houses for several common backyard birds.
Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice, Wrens: These small birds prefer smaller houses that aren’t too deep. They’ll want a house with a floor about 4 x 4″ and a depth (from the entry hole down to the floor) of about 6 to 8 inches. They prefer an entry hole anywhere from 1 1/8 to 1 1/2″ in diameter. Hang the house 6 to 15 feet up on a tree or hanging from a tree limb. These birds aren’t particularly fussy about the location of the house, but it’s best to place it in an area that doesn’t get a lot of traffic and is away from feeders that may draw more aggressive birds near the nest. Duncraft’s Eco-Friendly Wren House is perfect for all these birds.
Eastern Bluebirds: These bluebirds prefer a house that has a floor about 5 x 5″, a depth (from the entry hole down to the floor) of about 7″ and an entry hole that’s 1 1/2″ in diameter. Placement of the house is important for bluebirds. Since they are insect eaters, they prefer their house to be pole mounted at the edge of a field or clearing, anywhere from 4 – 10 feet above the ground. They will scout for insects from the top of the house and need a clear view of the area around them and free fly space to catch insects in flight. Duncraft’s WSB Bluebird House has been a customer favorite for years! And now we offer a new, Eco-friendly Bluebird House.
Western and Mountain Bluebirds: These bluebirds are slightly larger than the Eastern variety and need a slightly bigger house with a floor between 5 1/2 – 6″ square. They also prefer a slightly larger entry hole of about 1 9/16ths. Other than that, everything else is the same as an Eastern Bluebird. Keep in mind that if you can’t match these specifications exactly, that doesn’t mean you won’t get bluebirds! These birds are cavity nesters and tree-cavities in nature certainly aren’t made to exact measurements.
Robins, Wrens and Phoebes: These birds (with the exception of the easy-going wren who will nest almost anywhere!) won’t nest inside an enclosed bird house. They prefer to build open, cup-shaped nests. However they will appreciate a nesting shelf. Try to locate your shelf under the eave of your house, barn or shed so there is some protection from above, and you may have more success attracting birds to it. The size of the nesting shelf is not so important–you’re just offering a stable surface for the birds to build on. Duncraft’s Robin Nesting Shelf is suitable for these birds and also, depending upon location, may attract Barn Swallows or possibly Cardinals.
Hummingbirds: Yes, it is possible to offer a nesting spot in your yard for hummingbirds! Hummers build tiny, open-cupped nests and they sometimes will nest in rose bushes or other shrubs around your yard. Or you can try putting up a Hummingbird House. This is a metal frame that you hang under the eave of your house that a hummingbird can build on. The most likely hummingbird to use this “house” is the Black-chinned of the southwest, but Anna’s and a few other hummers may also build on the frame.
For a comprehensive listing of the specification for nest boxes for different birds, be sure to review our article, “Before Buying a Birdhouse” right here on the Duncraft Wild Bird Blog. Happy Birding!