When spring comes around, the mating season for birds begins. Each bird has different breeding habits according to their habitat and food availability but most begin around springtime. About 80 species of birds that nest in cavities can take up lodgings in wooden bird houses, and each one has specific requirements of size and design that they will be naturally attracted towards. But there are basic design features for wooden bird houses that you should look for if you build one yourself or buy one that is ready made.
Look for untreated natural wood. Cedar and pine are two kinds of wood that weather well. An extended and sloped roof will protect from the elements and also from predators. Extending the roof of wooden bird houses by five inches will make it harder for raccoons and domestic cats to reach into the bird house. You can also attach a predator guard to the pole, making it harder for predators to attack the wooden bird house from below. Erect your wooden bird houses on free-standing metal poles or PVC pipes, most predators find these poles difficult to climb and you can mount the bird house even higher if you attach it to a fence post. Make sure you have a properly sized entrance hole for the intended species and you have no perch below that hole that could make it easier for predators.
You want to make sure that your wooden bird houses are made of a solid construction. This will protect from the elements, predators and ensure that your wooden bird house will be standing when the birds return. Also, look for a sturdy closing mechanism to keep out the predators and elements and give you easy access for cleaning and monitoring. You will also need drainage holes and a recessed floor to prevent the nest from getting wet. Birds will prefer rough interior walls because they will feel more natural for the bird, better for making the nest and they will be more likely to take up residence.
Each species of bird prefers a different box height, hole size and spacing with their wooden bird houses. The surrounding habitat will also play a role as to what species of bird will be attracted to your bird house. For example, bluebirds prefer an open habitat, a hole of 1 ½” in diameter and the bird house is be 3-6 feet high. Be sure to do your research so you know the species of birds that frequent your area and how attract your chosen species of bird.
A word of warning: Avoid areas where pesticides or herbicides are used. Not only are these chemicals harmful to birds, they will also decrease and even eliminate the insect population that is the primary source of food for species that will take residence in your wooden bird houses.