It’s almost spring and that means it’s time to start adding wild bird nesting boxes to your back yard! Adding a nesting box to your back yard will encourage native bird species to visit your space. This gives your whole family the chance to enjoy bird watching together! How do you attract birds to a nesting box? Well, that may take a little bit of work! Keep reading for tips on nest box placement, best materials for bird houses and many other tips for backyard bird watchers.
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Join the Backyard Bird Count!
Last month, my family participated in the great Backyard Bird Count. We love bird watching and it was a great way to help scientists figure out migration patterns, population size, and habitat changes for local birds.
If you enjoy bird watching like we do, add wild bird nesting boxes to your yard. Birds often return to the site they were hatched in order to lay their own eggs. Adding nesting boxes to your yard will help ensure species survival. It also increase the population of birds in your own personal space.
Adding Wild Bird Nesting Boxes
Keep in mind that not all birds use nesting boxes. There are many species of birds that make their nests directly on the ground. Some prefer to place their nests in tree branches. For those birds that DO use nesting boxes, here are some things they might look for when choosing a nesting box.
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Features of a Good Nest Box
They type of bird house plans you choose in addition to next box placement makes a big difference in your success rate. Here are a few bird house features that are key to attracting wild birds:
- Untreated wood (pine, cedar, or fir) Use only untreated wood to make your bird nesting boxes. Birds are smart….they will avoid chemically treated wood, knowing that it is not safe!
- Sloped roof Birds do not want to live in a bird house with puddles on top of it. A sloped roof allows the rain to drain off, making the house sturdier and resistant to rot.
- Ventilation holes: It can get a bit stuffy inside your nesting boxes without the proper ventilation. Make sure your tiny home has plenty of air holes.
- Easy access for monitoring and cleaning Most birds will not return to a nesting area that already has a nest in it. If you don’t clean out the old nest every year, your chance of getting repeat guests decreases.
- No outside perches A nesting box is not a feeding place. Birds do not want a perch where they nest. An outside perch just gives intruder birds someplace to sit while they figure out if they can kick out the current resident.
Where to put nesting boxes
Location is key to adding wild bird nesting boxes to your yard. Birds are incredibly picky when it comes to building their nest. Their survival, as well as the survival of their young, depends on them being very picky. Here are a few things to keep in mind about nesting box locations:
- Make sure the nesting box is secure. You can attach them to walls, trees or buildings and different styles of boxes are available for each location. Do not just prop your nesting box in a tree. A strong wind or determined squirrel will just knock it right over.
- Keep predators away. Your cat is a HUGE threat to your bird population if you let it outside. Please do not go through the effort of attracting wild birds to your yard just to feed your feline friend. Cats can’t climb the sides of houses so if you have a cat, consider putting your nesting box directly on an exterior wall out of reach of jumping. An entrance hole reinforced with a metal plate will prevent squirrels and other birds from enlarging the hole and gaining access to the nest.
- Use this as a teachable moment. If you have children, consider buying a window mounted nesting box so your children can watch the bird raise her chicks.
- Keep nesting material nearby. Birds need an assortment of nesting material to add to their new home. Consider leaving out clumps of your dog’s hair after brushing. Let pine straw and leaves stay on the ground instead of raking your lawn clean. Check out Amazon for a wide variety of bird nester refill material.
- Catch it on camera! Inevitably, we always seem to miss seeing whoever decides to visit our nesting boxes. We are looking into buying a wildlife camera to hang nearby.
Why Birds Won’t Visit Your Nest Box
If you are having trouble getting birds to visiting your nesting boxes, there may be a few factors to consider. You need to make sure that you put the house out early enough that you actually catch them before they need to nest. Many species of birds check out dozens of locations before settling on the best nesting spot. Ideally, put your nesting boxes up in the winter to make sure your bird population knows they exist.
You will also need to learn how to attract wild birds to your yard. First, you need the right kinds of bird food and certain types of feeders. You will also need a water source like a bird bath or pond. Once they start to visit your yard to eat, they will check it out as a good source for food. Try getting the kids involved by making popsicle stick bird feeders or tin can bird feeders this spring.
I hope this post has helped you figure out the basics of adding wild bird nesting boxes to your yard. Now, buy a good pair of bird watching binoculars and start bird watching! Share your best bird watching tips with me!
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Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.