The National Wildlife Federation developed the Backyard Habitat program to educate us about habitat loss, and provide guidance on what we can do to help create small wildlife sanctuaries in our own backyards, schools or workplaces. The major components of a Habitat are Food, Water, and Shelter.
Providing a comfortable, safe shelter helps keep birds warm during the colder months, preserving critical calories, and gives them a place to raise their young. Offering shelter doesn’t always mean loading up your property with bird houses – many birds, like cardinals, prefer open nests in sheltered areas like pine trees. About 85% of the species that nest in North America are cavity nesters, meaning they like to nest in carved out holes in trees & similar environments. At Backyard Living, we offer bird houses (shelter) that approximate these environments with bird houses.
We offer a tremendous number of houses in many forms. Houses can be mounted on a post, hung from a tree or a pole, or attached to a house, shed or tree. It’s best to place most houses about 5 feet off the ground and near an area with some cover (like shrubs) to allow birds to hide when fleeing from danger. In general, houses should not be placed right next to each other, or right next to a feeder. Birds typically want a bit of room for their own.
There are a few myths surrounding bird houses.
Myth: Houses should only be put up in springtime when birds are nesting.
Reality: Houses can be put up anytime – they may only be used to keep warm in the colder months if a nest hasn’t been built inside, but that shelter may provide critical warmth.
Myth: Houses must be cleaned out annually, or they will not be re-used.
Reality: Recent research has shown that houses with nesting materials left in them were accepted at a higher rate than boxes that had been cleaned out. If a house has nesting material coming through the entry, it’s time for a clean it out.
It is not a surprise that there are many birdhouses being sold that are actually unsuitable for birds. Some simply do not attract any birds or the type of bird desired while some can be harmful to them. There are some basic criteria for a birdhouse to be considered a good buy.
First and foremost, the birdhouse should have the proper dimensions. Different types of birds have different requirements so it makes sense to check the birdhouse specification as to the inside area, the entrance hole size and the height of the hole from the floor. These are very important considerations in attracting birds to one’s backyard.
Second, it should have the ventilation and drainage holes or slats required to prevent overheating or drowning of baby birds. If the birdhouse do not have these holes or slats but is otherwise fine, it should at least allow for the addition of such holes or slats. It should easily be accomplished with the use of a drill or saw.
Third, it should provide easy access for cleaning and monitoring. This is usually provided when one side is hinged or lifts out. Birdhouses that offer no way to monitor nests or clean out old nests are not considered good bargains even if they come cheap.
Fourth, the proper materials should have been used to build it. This would mean non-toxic materials that will not pose any danger to the birds when ingested. This would also mean the use of more suitable materials rather than materials that are only good for aesthetics. (i.e. wood over metal)
Structural stability should always come before beauty or design. Avoid birdhouses that were simply glued together, stapled or nailed. A good birdhouse has its joint glued before nailing and uses rust resistant nails, hinges and screws.
The houses below are just a sampling of the houses we carry. Stop in soon to see our vast offering of bird feeders
Maple Hill House
Little Twig House
Lazy Hill House
Little Acorn House
Gourd Wren House