The goldfinches are getting more golden. The chickadees are singing their 2-note breeding call. The House Finches are bursting with biochemically driven, chaotic melodies and putting on their colorful breeding apparel. Red-winged Blackbirds are selecting their nesting areas among the cattails. These spring colors and melodies help us shed the winter blahs. Spring is right around the corner. Are you ready?
If you would like to share the beauty of this miraculous time of year with your family, now is the time to get your birdhouses ready. Birds look for suitable nesting sites in February and March. We can increase the odds of having these little jewels of the sky raise their families in our yards by following a few simple steps in nesting box preparation. Many houses that are sold and built these days are terrible for birds.
Birdhouse Do’s and Don’ts
DO choose the right size house for the birds you want to attract. Use houses with the right floor and entrance hole size. The height of the entrance above the floor is important as well. It’s amazing to see the birds out there with their little tape measures making certain the house is right for them.
DO include good drainage and ventilation in your birdhouse. Four quarter-inch holes in the floor for drainage should suffice. This keeps the house from turning into a swimming pool. Good ventilation can be achieved with a quarter-inch gap between the sidewalls and roof. This keeps the birds cool.
DO use good materials. Three-quarter-inch cedar is durable and safe. Avoid plywood. The glues can be toxic. DON’T use enamel, verithane or polymer-based sealers. They are toxic. It’s best to leave the house natural. However, you can use light-colored latex or linseed oil-based stains to preserve the houses.
DO include a way to clean out the house. The nests should be removed between each nesting to keep babies safe from predators and parasites. In our area, birds will have from 1 to 3 broods per season, depending on the species.
DO place your birdhouse 6 to 10 feet above the ground, facing east to south, out of our northwesterly winds.
DON’T put a perch on a birdhouse. Cavity nesters don’t need perches, but predators love them. It makes it easy to get at the babies.
DON’T forget to enjoy watching the babies develop from eggs to fledglings!
For ideas on how to help them survive the upcoming winter months, stop in or call your certified bird-feeding specialists at Wild Birds Unlimited and see how easy it is to bring a whole new world of entertainment to your backyard. Happy birding! For plenty of friendly, free advice on attracting the most beautiful birds in the world, call 303-467-2644.
~ David Menough, Owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Arvada
David and his wife, Kathy, own the Wild Birds Unlimited store at the southeast corner of 88th and Wadsworth in Arvada. WBU stores specialize in bird feeders, birdbaths, houses, field guides, nature-related gifts, binoculars and quality seed blends.
Other WBU Front Range locations:
- Wild Birds Unlimited of Denver – 2720 S. Wadsworth Blvd.
- Wild Birds Unlimited of Fort Collins – 3636 S. College Ave.
BirdTalk migrating to noon! Tune in to David and Scott Menough at noon on Saturdays for BirdTalk Radio on 710 KNUS. They will broadcast live from their stores in Arvada and Denver.