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Bird Specific Housing  RSS feed

 
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I am looking to make birdhouses with the specifications for either threatened birds of the area, birds that are insect predators, or ideally both. Does anyone know of a good resource for birdhouse designs and their corresponding residents?

Also are there any interesting permaculture birdhouse features you've heard of or had experience with that stack functions, align components, etc?

I am in NW Arkansas, Ozark Mountain region, zone 7.
Any advice, links, or PDFs are greatly appreciated!

 
pollinator
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Location: Stevensville, Montana; Zone 5b
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https://nestwatch.org/learn/all-about-birdhouses/

nestwatch provides free plans for a bunch of different birds. I used them to design a northern saw whet owl house after one got locked in my chicken coop.

Insect predators are going to be dominated either by ground birds or bats. I have a few bat boxes that work well and those plans are readily available with a google search.
 
pollinator
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Bats are really good at getting the flying insects that come out at night, where as ducks do really well at the low level insects that come out during the day. This is not exactly a perfect system as day time flying insect predators, and ground level night time insect predators would be ideal, but I have had good luck with my commercial flock of sheep. It works well enough so that I do not use insecticide on my farm.
 
gardener
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I'm kinda into wild songbirds and doing what I can to help them. I've built bird houses and what I can offer about the design and what species it will attract is size of the entrance and placement. Species can be pretty particular about what kind of man made house they will nest in and some species just won't. Bluebirds for instance, like a certain size box, with a 2 1/4" opening and the placement about 6 feet off the ground along a tree line or edge of the woods with the entrance facing open grassy areas. I'm sure there are exceptions, and a bluebird might find a house 8 feet off the ground in an open meadow suitable. Robins, for the most part, won't nest in a man made birdhouse, but often build nests in or on man made structures.

I think a good approach is to find out what species brood their young in your area. Some you can help by building the right size house and place it in their preferred environment and hope one will find it suitable to take occupancy. Another strategy is to provide natural habitat for species that won't nest in man made birdhouses or prefer natural settings over the alternative. Planting some dense evergreens and thick shrubs will attract different species.

Also, providing nesting material will encourage birds to build nearby. I'm not implying purchasing anything, but if you rake leaves, sticks and twigs in the fall, skip that and leave this material for the spring time nest builders. If you have cats or dogs and brush them, throw the clumps of fur outside in the spring. Some birds will happily use the fur to line their nests.

Here's a couple links that might help with birdhouse building for species and identifying which birds are in your area:

http://www.audubon.org/bird-guide
https://nestwatch.org/learn/all-about-birdhouses/
 
James Freyr
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Heh! Hey Daniel, great minds think alike. I was typing mine up while you were posting and shared the same link
 
Tas Zinck
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Thanks for the informative responses! I already make bat boxes and preach the benefits but I'm looking to add diversity to my habitat structures as well as build specialized birdhouses for clients with particular wants and needs.

I placed my bird feeder and manicured some roosting branches of a honeysuckle bush above my leaf pile so that the bird droppings add nitrogen and that has worked quite well. I've noticed several new species move into the area since I started building habitat and wanted to try and select for birds that were most beneficial or with threatened populations to house.
 
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Arkansas Audubon Society

North west Arkansas Audubon

state of the ozarks bird pages

Hope those help you kola

Redhawk
 
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You might want to check with wildlife rehabilitators in your area and see what types are in need, and if they are seeking suitable release sites for the sorts of birds you are looking to provide nest boxes for (local vets/animal control/conservation will likely point you in the right direction).  I always look to the Audobon society for bird house plans - they even have a book...

A few thoughts for more successful nest boxes:

Not all birds like or what circular openings; swallows like an elongated (left to right) oval; others like an up/down oval.
Cavity dwellers (chickadees, etc.) "excavate" their homes, so place a few inches of wood shavings in the new home for them to "create" their new home.
Place homes at the appropriate height and the appropriate location (open/forested/marshy area) for the species you are interested in.
Always place homes facing away from prevailing winds, but facing east, if possible (they like the early morning heat as opposed to evening heat).
Place homes where they are protected from predators.  Building mounted homes keep climbers better at bay; tree/pole mounted homes amongst the trees keep the birds of prey from snatching them to-ing and fro-ing from the nest.
If pole or tree mounting, consider using anti climbing baffles (strip of metal around trunk five feet up, section of stove pipe on smaller trees) to ensure climbers like squirrels, weasels, mink, etc. cannot access nest boxes.
If you are in a very warm climate hole sizes may need to be increased; if in a much cooler climate hole sizes may need to be decreased (smaller versions of some species in cooler climates, larger versions of some species in warmer climates).
Do not place bird of prey (owl etc.) boxes and songbird nest boxes in the same locations.  
Make sure the species you are interested in are compatible and not competitive or cannibalistic types.
Provide appropriate food sources, but a distance away from the nest boxes to ensure their privacy and security.
Rough up the interior wall so that the young birds have something to grip to when ready to climb to opening.
Pet or human hair from brushing; dryer lint; twigs, grasses etc. are all helpful nest materials to supply.

A few mistakes commonly made in the construction of bird homes:

All nest boxes must have a narrow gap at the bottom, in case of water needing to drain.
All nest boxes need a ventilation slot along the top, under the roof to allow for excess heat to escape.
Ensure the roof is OVER top of the walls and not inset, or you will have a leaky box.
Where ever possible, leave a generous overhang on the sides and especially on the front - down sloping (over the access hole) is generally better than a peaked roof style.
Make sure you allow an easy way to open and clean the home - unless cleaned out seasonally, they are often not reused as they can become infested with parasites.
Ensure you have thought out how you will mount them and where - it can be very awkward to mount a fully built home through the "door".
Please, never put a "perch" on the front - this provides support for nest raiders to attack the home.
Please, never paint or use any sort of chemical preservatives (NO PRESSURE TREATED WOOD), these are commonly very dangerous for birds who are extremely sensitive to chemicals.

And lastly, please, please, please, do not put up feeders or nest boxes if you have outdoor cats - most fledglings learn to fly from the ground up and spend anywhere from three days to three weeks on the ground learning to fly....


https://www.spokaneaudubon.org/page-280285
http://www.sialis.org/nestboxguide.htm
http://ravenview.com/blog/2009/04/27/a-bird-house-specification-chart/
 
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