There are specific needs that must be met either constructing a bird house at home or researching one to purchase from a store or online.
The emphasis of a bird house requirements guide is on the components and capabilities that should be included in the finished product. Some of these features include air flow, an angled ceiling, a precisely sized entry hole, and a readily accessible clean out door. Although it’s feasible to make adjustments in wood, most of them are required.
Even though I’ve mentioned up to sixteen things that would be helpful to have while constructing a bird home, only a few of them are strictly necessary, and the rest may be easily included into a wooden structure.
However, there are just a few bare minimums you’ll need to meet to ensure your bird house will attract the species of birds you had in mind when you built it.
The first step in luring birds to your brand-spanking-new bird home is cutting an entrance hole just so.
The internal dimensions must also be tailored to each species’ needs, and only then can you rest assured that the essentials are covered.
What makes a decent bird home to buy is one with an inclined roof to ensure that no moisture can settle, as rain would ultimately leak into the box otherwise. While air vents pre-drilled into the base provide dual purposes (ventilation and drainage), this construction method is more labor-intensive.
If you wish to clean up your bird house after the birds have left in the spring, you should make sure it has a clasp that opens a door or the roof.
You can modify a box by cutting off a perch if it is attached to the home or by slotting in a wire mesh floor at a higher level.
- 1 Requirement list:
- 2 Air Vents
- 3 Angled roof
- 4 Species-specific entry hole size
- 5 Bird house dimensions
- 6 Clean out door, secure latch
- 7 Elevated mesh floor
- 8 Fledgling skerfs or grooves
- 9 Fully assembled
- 10 Insect and rot resistant
- 11 Pole or flush mount install options
- 12 Predator guard
- 13 Premium wood build
- 14 Rust resistant hardware
- 15 Stain or preserved
- 16 Audubon approved specs
- 17 Made in USA
|Air Vents||High||Drill more holes to base|
|Angled roof||High||Apply felt or leather to prevent leakage|
|Audubon approved specs||High||Close too or thereabouts|
|Bird house dimensions||High||Margin of error acceptable|
|Clean out door, secure latch||High||Secure extra latch|
|Elevated mesh floor||Low||Can go without|
|Fledgling skerfs or grooves||Medium||Chisel in your own|
|Fully assembled||High||Self assembly not recommended|
|Insect and rot resistant||High||Apply your own preserve|
|Pole or flush mount install options||High||Avoid drilling directly throw rear panel|
|Predator guard||Medium||Keep detachable predator guard on at all times|
|Premium wood build||Medium||No correction possible|
|Rust resistant hardware||Low||Replace with rust resistant screws|
|Species-specific entrance hole size||High||Predator guard to re-size hole|
|Stain or preserved||Medium||Adjust color with added protection|
|Made in USA||Low||Protect US jobs|
My number one must-have for any do-it-yourself bird house is, of course, adequate ventilation.
Bird houses typically have openings for fresh air to circulate in order to maintain a comfortable temperature inside.
Even if a wooden bird house has plenty of ventilation openings, the inside temperature would likely still be too high for the birds who live within.
Ventilation is essential in bird houses, whether the inhabitants are caring for young birds or trying to maintain an ideal temperature for eggs.
By design, the bird house’s base will have ventilation holes drilled into it, and the bird’s entry hole and any additional vents in the overhanging roof will further aid in providing the exact birds with the fresh air they need to feel secure.
Positive side effect of air flow If there’s any chance of moisture collecting, holes drilled into the groundwork can help get rid of it.
Tip: Whether you built your own or bought one, adding more drainage holes to the base of the bird house isn’t dangerous and can be done if necessary.
An angle roof is a natural choice for a bird house, and you will likely acquire one of them at some point.
A flat roof on a bird house invites rainwater to pool on top and eventually seep inside, so avoid them wherever possible.
To ensure that the contents of the bird house remain dry, an angled roof is preferable to a level one or even a roof tilted at a modest angle, both of which can cause water to leak back into the box.
A 45-degree roof pitch, with the peak in the center and the overhangs on both ends, is typical for bird houses.
A similar, but shorter, piece of wood will be angled downwards toward you at the front of the bird house.
Honestly, any will suffice, but a deep angle is crucial.
Felt, leather, or a length of rubber pasted across the connection of the slanted roof’s two points of contact can reduce the likelihood of leaks.
Species-specific entry hole size
Always measure the entrance hole to ensure it is large enough to accommodate the target bird species.
Birds have different requirements for the size of the entrance hole in a bird house depending on their body size, their sense of security, and whether or not they know that a given hole size will deter potential predators.
As a result, you might anticipate birds with a similar hole size to perhaps relocate into your box.
Problems with getting birds to use your bird house could be as simple as the size of the entry hole, therefore it’s important to make sure it’s nice and round.
See if it makes a difference if you take care to precisely size the hole.
There is a wide variety of birds that may find shelter in your birdhouse, such as chickadees, wrens, woodpeckers, sparrows, finches, nuthatches, and many more.
Bluebird houses can have their hole sizes slightly reduced to prevent sparrows from colonizing the box.
Bird house dimensions
Prioritizing the right size of entrance hole for each bird species is important, but it must be considered with the ideal size of the bird house for that species.
The floor or base of the bird house is the most important dimension to consider.
The height of the bird house must conform to the specifications, thus it is up to you to decide what size the interior measurements of the foundation will be.
Wrens, chickadees, downy woodpeckers, bluebirds, sparrows, titmice, and nuthatches often like 4 by 4 inch floor space.
I have no doubt that you would welcome any of these species to nest in your aviary.
Flycatchers, Barn Swallows, Eastern Phoebes, Starlings, Hairy-headed Woodpecker, Purple Martins, and Red-headed Woodpeckers are some of the birds that can be attracted to a bird house with a floor of 6 by 6 inches.
All measurements are taken from the inside, so that any size reduction from measuring from the outside is compensated for.
The expert advice is to keep it under 4 millimeters to be on the safe side.
Clean out door, secure latch
Cleaning and maintaining a birdhouse is an essential part of owning and operating one to the standard that the birds who frequent it expect.
It’s important to be able to get into your birdhouse to clean it, remove old nesting material, and disinfect it with a safe vinegar cleaning solution, all while keeping the birds safe.
Because the interior of a bird house is where most of your cleaning time will be spent, it’s important that manufacturers make it easy to access.
To reach inside the box, you’ll need to open up what is called a clean out door or latch.
In order to gain unrestricted access to the interior, a lock is typically installed on the front of the bird house, alongside the entry hole.
The only other way into the bird house is through the roof, which is a bit more cumbersome but prevents the accidental opening of the latch.
Use screws to secure the latch or opening door rather than a dowel or anything else that could be accidentally removed, protecting the vulnerable occupants.
Elevated mesh floor
In my experience, Bluebird houses purchased from a retailer must have an elevated wire mesh floor.
I have my doubts that the same manufacturers make it accessible for other species, but if they do, I would be foolish not to take use of such an important safety feature.
A mesh wire floor resembles nothing more than a square piece of wire mesh cut to the same size as the base, with a sawed-out ridge on one side to hold it up to half an inch from the bottom of the bird house.
Natural nesting material that birds may use to create their own nest inside would not risk blocking up drainage or air ventilation holes which are typically drilled out of the base, which is why a mesh floor is preferable.
Wood chips, which can help get a few different bird species off to a good start in a bird house before the compaction causes the openings to get plugged, are one option.
The wire cage’s raised design prevents any wood chips or other organic debris from squeezing the base, ensuring adequate ventilation.
If you want to let the birds in your yard make their own nest without supplying any materials, you should get a bird house without any wire mesh so that the ventilation openings don’t get blocked.
Fledgling skerfs or grooves
Fledglings will begin to depart your bird house on day 13 or 14, typically accompanied by their mother.
A bird house’s entry hole may be several inches above the ground, making it impossible for young birds who haven’t learned to fly to escape.
Fledglings need to be able to easily ascend the bird house’s front wall and reach the entrance hole.
Store-bought wooden bird houses have skerfs, or cuts drilled into the wood, for fledglings to use as footholds to clamber in and out.
Even though no one will ever see the grooves you carve into the wood to help the fledglings, you should still take your time and make a thorough job of cutting them out.
Take a few minutes to inspect the bird home you now own, and if there aren’t any skerfs there, cut into the interior, starting from the bottom and working your way up to the entrance hole.
You can use a chisel to make your own skerfs for baby birds, but make sure they aren’t too deep or the birds’ feet will slip off as they climb.
Most bird houses you buy will be preassembled, so I don’t think you need to worry about that.
Bird houses must be constructed in a very particular fashion in order to attract the wide variety of bird species that call them home; even the smallest deviation from the ideal design will scare away the birds that should be calling the house their home.
In such case, unless you intend to construct your own, you should stick to prefabricated, ready-to-use bird houses.
Even though a bird house is permanently cemented together at the joints and can’t be taken apart unless it breaks, you can still make any necessary modifications as you see fit.
To begin with, the bird house you already own may have a lengthy perch attached just below the entrance hole.
A perch, such as a wooden dowel, should not be included in bird houses because it will only aid larger birds or ground predators who intend to do harm or take the eggs.
A wooden bird house will allow you to make particular adjustments to match the demands of your birds, which means you can attain the features I’ve stated so far if you do it yourself.
Insect and rot resistant
The consequences of weathering on a bird house built of wood are inevitable and difficult to prevent.
For speedy damage prevention, only purchase a bird home that boasts an insect repellent or rot resistant preservative.
You won’t have to do it yourself, and the clear preserve will still be able to show off the bird house’s original, untreated wood.
Using a preserve is necessary since, in my opinion, preventing rot is more vital than treating it to repel insects.
Keep it clean, but note that a shade of preserve is sometimes used to match the setting where the bird house is mounted, so you may keep it out of sight.
A new coat of preserve should be applied at least once a year to the bird house to prevent decay or weathering, so keep some on hand just in case.
Pole or flush mount install options
A common feature of store-bought bird houses is their lack of mounting gear, which prevents them from being affixed to a wooden post or a wall.
Keep that in mind, because a few screws might not be enough for your project.
The rubber strap, which must be attached to the back of the wooden bird house so as not to damage the tree, is one solution to the problem of mounting the bird house to a tree.
This is not the duty of the maker, but it is something to keep in mind if you want to hang a birdhouse anywhere other than the manufacturer-recommended spot.
When compared, mounting a bird house to a post is going to be a breeze, as the provided screws can be drilled through the back of the bird house and into the post.
Expert advice: to prevent leaks, never drill directly through the back; instead, make a hook on the back of the structure for the single screw to attach to.
Although you may think it’s unnecessary, putting up a predator guard on your bird home won’t hurt anything.
Including a predator guard that encircles the opening of your bird house is a foolproof way to make sure no predators can get inside and damage the birds.
Predator guards on bird houses are just blocks of wood that expand the entrance hole by an inch or so, making it impossible for predators to reach inside the box.
Wooden predator guards can be permanently installed with screws or wood adhesive.
A predator guard can alternatively just be a steel plate with an opening that is the same size as the one already present in your bird house.
Although the metal prevents predators from entering, it also prevents the birds from altering the entry hole to their liking.
Predator guards come in a variety of forms; a cage-like structure, for example, can keep rodents, squirrels, and snakes at bay.
Even if you don’t think any predators are around, it’s still a good idea to have any guards against them installed with screws in place.
Premium wood build
Now you know that the most important factor in choosing a bird home is that it be constructed from cedar, which is the best wood for bird houses of any kind.
The reason is that cedar wood has the qualities to last in outdoor circumstances, making it suitable for usage in either a cold or a hot climate.
Not without help, as cedar wood still needs to be treated with preservation when it is mounted for the first time, and additional coats of preserve would be needed thereafter to prevent the cedar from aging.
Your bird home should be made of cedar, despite the fact that cedar can bend, splinter, or weather quickly if not properly preserved.
What species of cedar is the easily available cedar that may be touted as premium and used interchangeably with red cedar?
The combination of a deep penetrating grain treatment and an additional coat of paint or stain will keep your cedar-made bird home looking as good as new for years to come.
In harsh external situations, like cedar, bird homes manufactured from pine or spruce can be used without treatment.
Rust resistant hardware
Although this is not a must-have in the construction of a birdhouse, rusting hardware defeats the purpose of even the most exquisitely made structure.
Even though you can see the rust where you remove the tip of the rust-resistant screws or hardware on a bird house, the rust will eventually seep into the wood.
In other cases, if rust penetrates the wood, the damage may be irreparable since it has spread too far into the grain.
That being said, it’s important to pay attention to the types of screws and other hardware (such latches and hinges) that bird house manufacturers employ.
However, if it is advertised as powder coated or is made of stainless steel, you may rest assured that it will not rust or wear away.
Replacement of rusty hardware with stainless steel is always a possibility, as is covering it with an external metal paint that will last for years.
Stain or preserved
Paint can kill birds, contrary to what manufacturers and Audubon will tell you, which does have some virtues.
The reason for this is that the paint on a bird house can peel off and be swallowed by young birds or even by adult birds that are trying to adjust the size of the entrance hole.
I think a birdhouse can be decorated if the setting requires it.
A bird house in such a setting might be attached to the fence post with a bolt of contrasting paint, making it stand out like a sore thumb.
The reason a birdhouse needs to be painted is so that it merges in with its surroundings, which are also painted.
Only exterior paint that is safe for the environment and can be brushed deeply into the grain will do.
Staining your bird home is the best option if you want to maintain the natural grain while giving it the desired color at the end.
If you want a darker color without spending too much money, an expert recommendation is to use multiple layers of paint or stain and a product that doubles as a preservative.
Audubon approved specs
It’s not strictly necessary, granted, because the most reputable bird house manufacturers already know how to tailor their products to the needs of individual bird species.
As a result, they are well-versed in the ins and outs of the industry, and they frequently share this knowledge with buyers via their website or a handbook or set of instructions included with the bird home.
Having stated that, anything can be said if you don’t know what goes.
Because of this, I recommend giving preference to the lines of bird houses made by companies that clearly state their boxes were constructed to Audubon-approved specification.
The National Audubon Society is a U.S.-based bird conservation group, and Audubon is the name of its mascot.
Manufacturers rarely work with Audubon on official birdhouse construction, but doing so can show that they adhere to rigorous criteria that will be examined by buyers in online reviews.
Expert advice: even if you’re building a bird house to Audubon’s specifications, you may need to make some adjustments.
Made in USA
My last bird house criterion isn’t as pressing as the others I’ve mentioned, but I still want to support American manufacturing whenever possible.
To clarify, if the birdhouse is labeled as “made in the USA,” then know that your purchase helps sustain American employment.
Furthermore, a variety of American-produced bird houses must compete with low-cost, low-quality bird houses made in Asia, therefore American businesses must do their best to demonstrate the superiority of their range.
Of course they are; American businesses have a firm grasp on what sells and what doesn’t among domestic consumers, and they also have a keener awareness of the wildlife just outside their doors.
Of course, buying American-made bird houses isn’t necessary, but at least there’s no risk of any toxic materials making their way into their collection. This is in contrast to the fact that purchasing inexpensively-made goods from abroad can lead to issues with the design or construction.