If you love birds, then try building based the free birdhouse plans available here. This will provide birds with much needed nesting and roosting habitat and give you a better opportunity to observe the intimate moments of their lives more closely. Here are some things to consider and also some birdhouse plans for you to try out.
As you may have already realized, birds come in many different shapes and sizes. Not all birds use cavities - such as those provided within birdhouses – for nesting purposes. Think about exactly what species you wish to encourage in your yard and do a little bit of research to see if that bird species will actually use a bird house for nesting or roosting.
If you live in the Pacific Northwest region, here is a short list of species that are cavity nesters and might use your bird house:
When cutting out the entrance to your birdhouse, remember to keep it as close to the diameter of the body of your bird species of choice. Although smaller birds will sometimes utilize birdhouses with over-sized entrances, those birds are often much more likely to lose their eggs or young to predation.
In utilizing your free birdhouse plans, it helps to keep in mind that you can do certain things to minimize predation or competition with more aggressive bird species. Although adding a perch underneath the entrance of birdhouse might be aesthetically pleasing, it can greatly increase the accessibility of the inside of the birdhouse to predators. Species such as crows, ravens, jays, weasels, raccoons and house cats are known to be nest predators. According to research on nest predation done by the University of Washington, it is squirrels and mice that are the most frequent predators on bird eggs.
When choosing what materials to use in constructing the box according to the free birdhouse plans, consider using all natural materials. Materials such as cedar, locust or other long-lasting, rot resistant woods are a great choice. It is important that the wood used in the construction does not have any stains or preservatives on it as the fumes can harm the nesting birds.
Part of keeping your birds safe involves being able to check on the nest once in a while as well as offering you access to clean out the box at the end of the nesting season. Boxes that open from the top are the least disturbing to the birds. Do not make your birdhouse open from the bottom, as the nest is likely to fall out. Keeping the nest boxes clean is important in keep parasites down to a minimum. If you find that the nesting box is infested with parasites, it is best not to spray any insecticides into the birdhouse. Try cleaning out the inside of the birdhouse with soap and water, white vinegar or some other non-toxic cleaning solutions.
Once you have made a home for the birds using the free birdhouse plans, look around carefully for a good location to place the box. Consider a height that would be convenient for you, after all you want to have a good look at the birds as they go about their lives. Do not put bird houses near bird feeders. Do not put more than one birdhouse in a single tree in your yard, unless it is a very large tree or unless you have birdhouses for multiple species. Building several boxes and spreading them throughout your yard is a good idea, however, space them out well. If your bird houses are not being used, consider moving them to new locations as birds can be very particular about where they choose to nest.
Click on the following links to see a variety of birdhouse plans and designs:
One great source of information online for details on making and learning more about building birdhouse is the U.S. Fish & Wildlife, you can find the information all condensed and easily accessible here:
Wildlife Tracking Courses at Alderleaf
By the way, when you're out birding, it's important to know how to stay safe in the outdoors, especially if you were to get lost. Right now you can get a free copy of our mini survival guide here, where you'll discover six key strategies for outdoor emergencies, plus often-overlooked survival tips.
About the Author: Filip Tkaczyk is a periodic guest teacher at Alderleaf. He also wrote the field guide Tracks & Sign of Reptiles & Amphibians. Learn more about Filip Tkaczyk.