Wondering what to do in the winter? Build a birdhouse or two. With the disappearance of orchards and other trees and the replacement of old wooden fence posts with fiberglass ones, there are fewer sites suitable for birds to build a nest in. There is one thing we home dwellers can do: provide habitat. Landscaping is one way; providing housing is another. I’ll just stick to birdhouses for this blog.
Not all birds use birdhouses, only those we call “cavity nesters” – nuthatches, wrens, some flycatchers, bluebirds, some swallows, chickadees, several owls, woodpeckers, even some ducks and a few warblers, 85 species in all in North America. Woodpeckers make their own cavities while other birds have to find natural or woodpecker-made cavities in live or dead trees or cacti, fence posts or other wooden structures, or an artificial nest box.
Nest boxes may be bought or built from plans can be in magazines, books and on the Web. Although almost any design that the average five-ear old can draw will work, different birds prefer different designs of floor dimensions, interior height, location and size of the entrance hole, and distance off the ground. Cavity-nesters can come and go using only the entrance hole for footing; perches are not necessary.
But rather than giving you a bunch of information here, I’ll just list some websites where you can buy them or look for designs and plans.
Some sites give you exact dimensions for each birdhouse. Although the sizes will exclude some bigger birds, don’t worry about the dimensions. After all, birds have nested in natural, irregular-shaped and sized birdhouses for millions of years.