How to Attract Birds with Different Types of Shelter

By Mary H. Dyer | July 15, 2016
Image by dmbaker
by Mary H. Dyer
July 15, 2016

Nature has endowed birds with effective ways to survive, but an inviting birdhouse provides welcome protection from harsh weather and allows residents to maintain optimum body temperatures without expending precious energy.

Selecting a Safe, Inviting Birdhouse

Birds have very specific needs when it comes to shelter. Some species prefer natural cavities in shrubs and trees, but others are more than happy to take up residence in a well-placed birdhouse. Selecting a birdhouse isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation, as various species have specific needs.

  • According to the National Wildlife Federation, a birdhouse should have thick walls and a sloped roof with a 1- to 2-inch overhang to keep the inside snug and dry. Be sure your birdhouse has holes for drainage and ventilation, and at least one removable panel so the house can be easily cleaned.
  • Wood makes the best birdhouses. Avoid metal houses, which are too hot.
  • Be sure the birdhouse is sturdy and can be mounted securely.
  • While colorful birdhouses are attractive, bright colors are reflective and easily spotted by predators. Birds are more attracted to natural colors that blend with the environment. Non-toxic paint is fine for the exterior, but the interior should be free of any paint or varnish.
  • Many houses are equipped with baffles that discourage squirrels, house cats, snakes, raccoons and other marauders. This is an option if unwanted visitors are a problem.
  • Size matters when it comes to selecting a birdhouse. Birds will generally pass by if a house is too large, but young birds may suffocate in a tiny, crowded house.
  • Perches aren’t necessary and most birds don’t need them. In fact, perches may even be dangerous, providing a handy resting place for lurking predators. Most birds would rather perch in a nearby tree or shrub.

Considerations for Attracting Birds

If you’re serious about attracting birds to your yard, a book or chart can help you determine the specific needs of birds you hope to attract. Here are a few things to consider:

Entry holes – Birds look for shelter where they can safely nest and raise their young, and a house with improperly sized holes won’t fill the bill. A hole should be large enough to allow entrance, but small enough to discourage predators. Additionally, young birds may actually fall out of the house if a hole is too large.

Height – Height of the birdhouse is nearly as important as size of the entry hole. Small birds, such as wrens, are happy with a house mounted on a post with the entry 8 to 10 feet from the ground. Woodpeckers, on the other hand, are more likely to visit a house that replicates their natural environment – mounted on the side of a tree, 15 to 20 feet above the ground.

Placement – Placement is very specific. For example, to attract bluebirds, provide a house facing an open field where birds can catch flying insects to feed their young. While most birds prefer a private residence, purple martins are communal birds that nest in a birdhouse with several compartments, or in several small houses placed in close proximity. They like open areas where they can grab insects on the fly, but most birds require a house in a secure, wooded area.

There are a number of options when choosing birdhouses for your landscape. You can even make your own. Having said that, the folks at Fine Garden Products offer a huge selection of bird houses for numerous bird types that are sure to fit in nicely (and naturally) with nearly any landscape design.  Get connected with Fine Garden Products on FacebookTwitter or Pinterest to learn more.

The above article was paid for and sponsored by Fine Garden Products. The information contained in this article may contain ads or advertorial opinions.
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  • Ellen Hughes
    Comment added July 25, 2018Reply

    It did catch my attention when you said that you should avoid metal birdhouses because they are too hot, and you must opt for wooden birdhouses. My husband and I are planning to buy birdhouses that we can place in our garden to enhance its looks and attract birds. I will make sure to consider all your tips on buying birdhouses.

  • James Anderson
    Comment added May 26, 2018Reply

    It's great that you've mentioned how one can invite birds in one's house or garden by making use of wooden birdhouses, as metal ones can become too hot. We want to invite birds in our garden so that the pests in our lawn can also be controlled. Knowing this, I'll definitely look for handmade birdhouses made of wood so that they will be enticed to perch on it and hopefully get more birds to stay.

  • Scott
    Comment added January 4, 2018Reply

    I hadn't thought about how bright colored birdhouses could also attract more attention from predators. I have been looking for a birdhouse to put in my backyard. I can see how it would be smart to choose a neutral color so the cats in my neighborhood don't spot the house.

  • Scott Adams
    Comment added October 16, 2017Reply

    I'm glad that you talked about placing the house near a field, if you want to bring in blue birds. I have been wanting to try a birdhouse with my kids. I can see how it would be good to put it near the field, because my daughter really loves blue birds.

  • Taylor Bishop
    Comment added October 2, 2017Reply

    I actually didn't know that birds are more attracted to colors that blend in with the environment. My sister has been thinking of getting a birdhouse, so this could be good for her to know. Maybe it would be good to know if there are specific colors that attract different birds, depending on your area and climate.

  • Max Jones
    Comment added August 14, 2017Reply

    My daughter really loves finding birdhouses for sale, and I think that knowing what things to consider to attract different birds would be helpful! I'm glad that you talked about looking for wooden birdhouses with the right size of entry hole to discourage predators but allow a bird to nest there! I'm going to have to keep that in mind when I'm looking at birdhouses for sale with my daughter, and see what options would be best for our yard! Thank you!

  • Harper Campbell
    Comment added July 14, 2017Reply

    I am wanting to put up birdhouses in my backyard to help attract more wildlife to it. It's good to know that when it comes to choosing one that wood makes for a better house then metal. This is something that I am going to have to remember so that I can help whatever birds may come more comfortable.

  • Alex Dean
    Comment added June 21, 2017Reply

    I am wanting to hang up some birdhouses around my yard, but I need help knowing how to pick the right ones for the birds I have. It's good to know that one thing I need to consider when choosing birdhouses is the height of what to put it at; like with the smaller birds, they don't mind just being 10 feet off the ground. To me this is doable to help the birds in my yard feel more at home there too.

  • Rachel Lannister
    Comment added April 18, 2017Reply

    I absolutely love to watch the birds in my backyard, and have been thinking about putting a bird house out there, so that I could watch them make a nest. In the article you stated that you should choose a bird house based on the size of the opening, as that will determine what kind of birds will be able to get inside. Since the birds around my home are just small finches, I'll have to find a bird house with a small hole so that only those kind of birds can get inside.

  • Leviticus Bennett
    Comment added January 31, 2017Reply

    That's interesting that different types of birdhouses will attract different types of birds. I suppose it would be beneficial to learn more about the birds in my area and build a birdhouse that specifically caters to them. My sister loves birds, so I'm thinking of getting her a birdhouse, but want it to be one that birds actually visit.

  • James Bergman
    Comment added August 2, 2016Reply

    I don't think I have ever put drainage holes in a birdhouse. Ventilation, yes, but not drainage. Do you drill them into the base of the birdhouse?

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