Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bird Houses

Spring is the time of year (March in the Houston Area) when you should put your bird houses out to attract the birds and help them out. There are four basic nest locations. Some birds nest in cavities, such as tree holes, bird houses, or the nooks of buildings , some nest in branches of shrubs or trees, some nest on the ground and a few under the ground. 
 The cavity nesters use tree holes and will at times use a birdhouse. Common examples of cavity nesters are woodpeckers and chickadees. 
 Many other birds build their nests in the open in branches or shrubs or trees. These nests are generally cup shaped and open to the sky. These birds are referred to as open-cup nesters. Examples of these are goldfinches, robins, mockingbirds, and cardinals. 
 Most of the remaining birds build their nests on the ground, either by contructing an open cup or by scraping just a shallow depression in the soil. Common ground nesters are towhees, killdeers, pheasants and many sparrows. 
 A few birds build their nest underground. A common underground nester is the kingfisher. 
 You can build a birdhouse or buy one but remember you need the right dimemsions for different species of birds . The size of the hole and height above the floor are important as well as the floor dimensions and the total height of the box. Bird houses need proper ventilation, drainage and a overhang is desirable for the roof to protect from sun and rain. Perches are not needed and it does help to have a way to clean the box. If your bird house does not open for cleaning I have found that a bent coat hanger used through the hole will work well to clean out the old nest. Insides of bird houses should never be painted. 
 This time of year is also the time of year to put up your Purple Martin houses. These are communal birds so a house of eight to twelve nests is most common. You need an open area so the birds can swoop in and out, at least 25 ft. away from trees or houses. The houses should be 12 to 15 ft high and the holes should be 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter. The houses can be made of aluminum, wood or plastic. The birds don't care of which material but you should be able to get the house up and down easily for cleaning or monitoring. 
 Enjoy Spring and our wonderful birds. 

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