Birdhouses are a great way to help birds beat the odds against the harsh Mother Nature, but not all birdhouses are created equally. Even small things you never thought about can make a huge difference in attracting birds to a birdhouse and retaining them for the long haul.
Depending on the bird species you want to attract to take residence, the size of the entry hole is the first thing you need to decide, but there are other key factors that also need to be taken into consideration:
- How is the birdhouse mounted?
- What type of birdhouse is the most appropriate for the terrain?
- What is the best location to place the birdhouse?
Mounting Tips for Birdhouses
Regarding the first question, there is no reason to buy a birdhouse that doesn’t have a mounting bracket. Birdhouses with a mounting bracket will go a long way toward easy maintenance of your birdhouse, as you won’t have to unscrew it from the tree or a pole, but simply slide it out of the bracket.
By removing that extra work, you will end up cleaning the birdhouse more frequently, which is a much needed habit to acquire. Additionally, if you intend to install multiple birdhouses, the time you will save on maintenance of birdhouses on mounted brackets will be immeasurable.
As to which type of birdhouse is appropriate for which terrain, there is one golden rule you can always count on to be true – don’t have hooked/swinging birdhouses. They pose great danger to birds, and especially their young. You might attract a few birds when the weather is very calm, but as soon as there is a gust of wind and the birdhouse begins swaying, the birds will take off, never to return again.
And lastly, the location of the birdhouse. This will require some testing, as some birds will have certain preferences, so if you see that a certain birdhouse doesn’t attract birds, change the location. But more importantly, make sure that the birdhouse is well out of reach of birds’ most vicious predators – household cats – along with raccoons.
Next, the placement should be under roof overhangs so they are less exposed to both humidity and direct sunlight. These are the places that are also difficult to reach for any animal that has no flight capability, which eliminates the predator concern as well.
If you know that your area is windy, try to place the birdhouse away from the wind’s direction.
And finally, having some knowledge about various bird species should come in handy. For example, the wren species evolved to employ a ‘clever’ tactic – due to being very territorial, they will create dummy nests which will prevent other birds to take residence in a birdhouse.
You can prevent this by keeping some distance between the birdhouses. Speaking of distances, the distance between the bird feeders and birdhouses is also important, as bird feeders should be placed in a spot that prevents predation as well.
Additionally, make sure that squirrels don’t have access to bird feeders, as they will eat and snatch it all. There are many bird feeders available specifically designed to repel squirrels.
How to Mount a Birdhouse on a Pole
Cats and raccoons are natural climbers, so thick trees with branches and a hard surface do not pose much of an obstacle to them. Therefore, if possible, it would be prudent to mount a birdhouse on a slippery, thin, metal pole. Same goes for birdfeeders.
If you choose to go the metal pole route, make sure that it is dug deep into the ground so it doesn’t sway on a windy day. As for the mounting procedure, there are birdhouses specifically designed to be mounted on poles, having a flat bottom surface with holes. If that is not the case, you can just as effectively take advantage of stainless steel hose clamps.
Furthermore, if you want to completely eliminate the cat/raccoon threat, before mounting the birdhouse, you can place a commercial raccoon baffle, or a simple upside down pot, sufficiently large to prevent their ability to get a grip and climb over.
How to Mount a Birdhouse on a Tree
Although any sturdy tree that doesn’t start swaying at the slightest wind gust would be a good option, hardwood trees are preferable because they don’t produce sticky sap in large quantities. And if you already have a modicum of bird knowledge, you should be aware that some bird species have tree preferences. For instance, your common house sparrow will prefer elm over other trees.
As we stated previously, trees are much easier to climb for cats and raccoons, but there are some effective measures you can take:
Some distance under the birdhouse, and above branches, put a tree baffle or a trunk wrap. This can be from any material that is hard to grip, like plastic or aluminum foil, while a tree baffle consists of a series of cones made out of wire or metal. As the cones are placed downwards, they provide an effective barrier against further climbing attempts.
With predator concern out of the way, trees offer additional benefits for birds – natural source of food in the form of cherries, acorns, seeds, berries, and insects – and a natural shade from the elements as well.
However, when it comes to mounting a birdhouse to a tree, you don’t want to damage it by drilling holes for the mounting. Instead, it would be best to use fastener straps that you attach to the birdhouse, and wind it tightly around the tree trunk. And as the tree grows, you simply loosen the strap.
For the last safety measure, place a 5-pound object (a brick) on top of the birdhouse to check if it will hold. If it doesn’t, tighten the strap a bit more.
What Direction Should a Birdhouse Face
All across the world, people have accumulated a great amount of experience for the proper keeping and placing of birdhouses. One factoid that stands out from that vast knowledge collection is that facing birdhouses eastward is the most optimal solution for several reasons:
- It lessens overheating from the afternoon sun.
- It creates early access to the morning sun, just after a cold night.