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When I decided to place my first birdhouse, I learned that there's more to it than just hanging a birdhouse from a tree.  Placement is important with consideration to the size and depth of the box, the size of the hole, how high the box is off the ground, what is the surrounding vegetation, which direction the opening faces...

It's important to know how to protect the box from predators and temperature extremes.  You have to be careful that insects, especially ants don't enter the box while the hatchlings are present.  I guess it's kind of silly to jump through these hoops when you realize that birds have been doing this by themselves for ever.  On the other hand, I've watched first season birds try and fail to build their own nest.

My Guidelines

I hustled to get the bird house put up in early spring though that wasn't really necessary.  For various reasons some birds might be late when setting up their homes.  They may have chosen poorly on the placement of their first nest and had it destroyed by predators. Some birds raise more than one nest a year and others might seek shelter from the elements even if it isn't nesting season.  I guess the bottom line is that you may be rewarded no matter when you put up the box.



bulletI faced the entrance to the north east because we have blistering hot days in our area and I didn't want them to overheat. 
bulletYou shouldn't place the house too close to your bird feeder.  The nesting bird will find the noise and traffic disturbing.
bulletDon't mount the house on trees or hang them from limbs.  Metal poles are the best to discourage predators though I mounted mine on a 10' 4x4 and added metal flashing later.
bulletThe rule of thumb is to use no more than four bird houses per acre for small birds (wrens & chickadees) and one house per acre for larger birds like robins.

Types of Houses

My first birdhouse is a simple $9 cedar Bluebird box that I got from Wal-Mart.  Cedar is often the wood of choice because it inhibits insects and parasites. I placed a handful of wood shavings in the box to give them a head start with the nesting material.

Though it's called a bluebird house, that is more of a generic description of the type of box rather than the likely tenants.  Based on the dimensions, depth and entrance size, besides bluebirds, I can possibly expect Chickadees, Titmice, Nuthatches and Wrens.

As you can see, birdhouses are made to fit the bird you hope to attract. On the left is a picture of the Barn Owl house our neighbor placed in a large oak tree. Currently the Barn Owl population is at a low ebb and it can take years to attract them to a suitable home.  They prefer to be dry and as high as possible and the box should be water tight and draft free.

The photo on the right is a gourd shaped house put out by another of our neighbors and is designed with the Purple Martine in mind. On the side is a waterproof screw on cap that is used for nest checks and the end season cleanout.