Whether your yard is urban, suburban, or rural, you can encourage nesting birds to take up residence. Food, water, and a sheltered nesting site are essential. Here are some tips to increase your likelihood of success:
Many birds might nest in your backyard. Chickadees, swallows, nuthatches, woodpeckers, wrens, and other birds will accept birdhouses or nest boxes. Other backyard birds may choose a nice branch or crotch of a tree to build a nest. To increase the likelihood of hosting nesting birds, consider the following:
* Built to Audubon specifications. No, birds don’t fly around with little tape measures looking for just the right hole size and cavity depth. But, scientists have researched the best depth and hole size to attract the birds who are willing to nest in a birdhouse.
* Ventilation and Drainage. Select birdhouses that “breathe,” for healthier nestlings.
* Wood chips or shavings in the bottom. Chickadees, small woodpeckers, and other birds will move them around, or even remove them, as part of their nesting rituals.
* Make sure they aren’t affected by any changes. It is best to not do any pruning or tree trimming once nesting season has begun, if you must, make sure you check for nests prior. If you already have a backyard deck, you must first ensure that the deck is in good condition before adding a birdhouse so that the birds are not disrupted if you repair or sand the deck later.
* Predators can wreak havoc. Take precautions against raccoons, cats, and larger birds. Never have a perch on a birdhouse -it helps predator birds reach inside. A Bird Guardian, an elongated access tunnel fitting over the hole of a birdhouse, can protect nestlings from the reach of predators. A portal prevents squirrels from enlarging the opening and claiming the birdhouse for themselves.
* Location is important. Most nesting birds are territorial, so your yard may only accommodate one family of a particular species. Mount nest boxes at least thirty feet apart to minimize disputes. Partly concealed, shady locations are best, with a clear flight path to the entrance.
* Offer nest-building materials. Both cavity- and branch-nesters are attracted to a supply of nesting material in a mesh produce bag or unused suet cage. Short lengths of yarn or string, clothes dryer lint, or animal fur may all be used by nest-building birds. Best Nest Builder is a ready-to-hang mesh bag filled with untreated cotton – perfect for softening the interior of nests.
* Keep it Clean. Reduce parasite problems by removing the contents of the birdhouse at the end of nesting season and cleaning it with a mild solution of 90% water and 10% household chlorine bleach.