Build A Birdhouse

GIF - Birdhouse on Fencepost

Department of Wildlife Conservation
1801 North Lincoln
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

SONGBIRDS are among nature's greatest indicators of a quality environment.

In and around many industrial centers where pollutants are rampant and in heavy agricultural areas where pesticide use is great, the number of songbirds has decreased in recent years.

Not so in most of Oklahoma, where clean air, excellent habitat and people interested in nature are the rule and not the exception. Many of these people, concerned about the inroads being made upon nature by an expanding human race, receive balm to their spirits each spring via the cheerful melodies of songbirds.

You can get a front-row seat to this concert by providing nesting places for the birds of your choice. This is becoming especially important, because habitat destruction by man is critically reducing songbird nesting areas. A good project this spring would be to build a birdhouse or two.

Those who enjoy the companionship of birds will find these houses inexpensive and fun to build. A well-built birdhouse should be durable, rainproof, cool and readily accessible for cleaning. By using some imagination, the builder can also add an attractive touch to the landscape.

Wood is the best building material. Metals other than aluminum should be avoided, for they become extremely hot when exposed to a sweltering sun. Rough slabs with the bark left on make ideal material for rustic-looking houses.

Roofs should be constructed with sufficient pitch to shed water. At least 3 inches of overhang should be allowed to protect the entrance from driving rain. Some water mav still seep into the house, therefore a few small holes should be drilled in the floor to allow drainage.

Builders should plan for several holes near the top of the box to provide ventilation in hot weather. The house should be constructed with screws for easy disassembly when cleaning.

Entrance holes should be near the top of the box and proportional to the size of the bird which will use the house. Houses should have the interior walls roughened or grooved to assist the young in climbing to the opening.

Bird houses should be placed at locations inaccessible to natural predators. The opening should face away from the prevailing wind, and if possible, the houses should be situated in partial sunlight. Subdued color tones are best, except for those placed in direct sunlight where white is needed to reflect the heat.

Bird houses shouldn't be placed too close together. Some birds insist on territorial rights and conflicts could result in empty bird houses. At least 1/4 acre should be allowed for most houses.

Different species of birds need houses constructed to suit their particular needs. The following brief sketches describe the type of birdhouses best suited for common Oklahoma species.

This resource is based on the following source:
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.  No Date.  Build a birdhouse.     Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Oklahoma City, OK.
This resource should be cited as:
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.  No Date.  Build a birdhouse.     Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Oklahoma City, OK.     Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Home Page.     (Version 24FEB98).

Natural enemies pose the greatest hazard to birds using man-made houses. Iron poles used for mounts or a sheet metal guard encircling trees or wooden poles will help protect birds from cats and squirrels. Houses suspended from wires beyond the jumping range of these predators can be effective.

Ubiquitous English sparrows and starlings can prove exasperating to those seeking to attract native species to bird houses. Only by persistent harassment can these pests be eliminated. Often sparrows can be trapped inside the houses during the night. But remember: any relaxation of the war against starlings and sparrows will find them re-established. Starlings usually will not inhabit boxes within 10 feet of the ground.

If pests can be eliminated and birds find the house satisfactory, the only requirement remaining is cleaning the interior periodically. So, get busy with your hammer.