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Wild Bird Houses: Placement Tips

Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
Bluebirds, How to Attract 
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How to be a Better Wild Bird Landlord: Offer Homes to Wild Birds in Need

Many of our wild bird neighbors build nests in protected cavities or holes. These include bluebirds, chickadees, wrens, purple martins, titmice, nuthatches, and others. Hollowed-out cavities in dead trees are perfect for nest building, but it can be challenging for wild birds to find these ideal nesting spots. There may be a shortage of dead trees or an abundance of nest-seekers. Either way, you can help by setting out man-made nesting huts or birdhouses along with the protection of a predator guard.

Being a landlord to the wild bird community is highly rewarding. You are helping to protect and preserve an important part of nature. Plus, you are getting a chance to observe the nesting habits of these beautiful little creatures. But there is more to being a landlord than just setting out a birdhouse. Different wild bird species require different kinds of housing set in the proper location.Purple Martin House

Purple martins, for instance, are social birds. They prefer to nest in apartment-style birdhouses like the 12 Room Purple Martin Bird House, which provides twelve nesting compartments. Purple martins can be choosy about their housing. They seem to favor birdhouses that are painted white and located near a body of water such as a lake or stream. The ideal place for a purple martin house is in an area away from trees such as a lawn, pasture, or field. Purple martin houses need to sit high off the ground, between 12 and 25 feet.

Bluebird houses, on the other hand, sit 5 to 6 feet off the ground. Ideally they should be on open land, not wooded, although a few nearby trees are okay. Bluebirds are competitive, so place a few houses on your property, if possible, at least 100 yards apart. For studying and recording the habits of bluebirds, choose a house that offers easy access to the interior. The plexiglas inner wall of the Observation Bluebird House allows you to view the birds without excess disturbance.

Remember to limit your visits to 30 seconds, once or twice a week. Avoid visiting during incubation. It's safe to visit again about 2 to 3 days after the chicks have hatched. Be sure to record your observations in a notebook or journal. You'll find yourself returning to your writings often, as you learn more and more about these fascinating backyard neighbors.

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