Whether you’re a bird enthusiast or not, getting a birdhouse is a rewarding activity. It lets you enjoy the company of colorful and feathery friends in your yard.
However, the number of options and details you need to go through can be so overwhelming that you may not even go through with it.
In this article, we’ll cover all the main birdhouse types and factors you need to consider when choosing your first garden companion. Let’s dive in!
Birdhouses come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors, installation modes, and price ranges.
However, the most obvious factor to keep in mind here is the construction material. It’s arguably just as important as its size and placement since it can help attract a family of birds or, on the flip side, suffocate the brood inside it.
Let’s take a look at the possible construction types:
The simple rule of thumb when it comes to birdhouses is “when in doubt, go with wood.” Wood is one of the best, most comfortable materials for your feathery housemates since it’s their natural home.
Plus, it provides excellent insulation against weather conditions, especially compared to other materials.
Some types of lumber will even offer added benefits like the natural ability to tolerate harsh weather or ward off pests, like the cedarwood.
Having some metal components in your birdhouse should be fine. Other than that, it’s a good idea to steer clear of birdhouses made entirely out of metal.
Metal birdhouses can turn into an oven for the baby birds inside under direct sunlight, even if the weather isn’t particularly hot.
If you really need to incorporate metal, aim for an aluminum roof that keeps the sun and rain out.
This material isn’t as readily available as wood despite the significant advantages it offers. For example, ceramic birdhouses won’t leak as much during the rain, and they do a better job balancing the heat inside than almost any other material.
Asides from looking gorgeous and unique, they should also withstand cold weather. However, they’re likely to crack if you live in a region that deals with extreme temperature fluctuations.
Plastic birdhouses are not a bad option if you’re still testing things with the neighborhood birds. They’re cheap, usually straightforward to install, and very lightweight compared to other materials.
Of course, as with anything plastic, chances are your plastic birdhouse won’t last to see two mating seasons. They often have hollow or thin walls, so be sure to choose something sturdy and appropriate to the weather in your area.
Did you know that native Americans were among the first to use gourds as birdhouses?
Today, this type of birdhouse is still the magic spell for backyard birds.
Its organic hardshell provides excellent insulation and balances the temperature inside. Its shape and size also provide both adequate space for broods and a cozy feel for small birds.
It’s an all-around very convenient and adorable option to consider!
The materials we’ve gone through so far are the ones you’ll find in ready-made birdhouses. Yet, they’re not the only materials suitable for a birdhouse by any means.
If you’re particularly crafty or creative, you can upcycle a birdhouse out of just about anything in the house—buckets, PVC pipes, or even old apparel!
Just make sure that the material you use is non-toxic, provides good insulation, and is the right size for the birds you’re looking to attract.
Once you’ve settled on the appropriate material, you can move on to choosing the best mounting style for your backyard.
Usually, there are two main categories to pick from:
These can be drilled into shed walls, fences, or posts.
If you get one of these, it might be better to go for one that’s detachable from the mounting bracket. This way, you can easily remove it for cleaning or placement changes.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy installation, hanging houses might be the way to go, especially if you have tall and sturdy trees in your backyard.
Just make sure to get something that doesn’t sway too much.
The dimensions of the entrance hole, floor, and height are all critical specs for any birdhouse.
While it would be convenient just to get a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, that’s not very practical with the picky birds.
So, let’s take a look at the familiar backyard visitors, how they can be helpful to your garden, and what dimensions you need to house each one:
The woodpecker is a great bird to have if you’re in an area that suffers from wood-boring insects.
It’s also a good idea to provide it with an appropriate birdhouse if it’s knocking on your doors or window panels, causing structural damage.
A woodpecker’s birdhouse needs an entrance hole that’s 8” or higher above its floor. This helps make sure the fledglings don’t fall out and gives the adults space for their tails to prop them up.
Other than that, the entry point should be 1.25” wide for most woodpeckers.
Chickadees are another type of bird that are relentless insect-hunters.
Producing anything between 5-10 eggs in one nest, each chickadee family can munch through hundreds of caterpillars in days.
The good news is chickadees don’t need a lot of convincing to come nest in your yard—just a birdhouse with a 1.125” entrance that’s at least 6” above the floor.
Purple martins are all-around special. They’re gorgeous, community-oriented, and one of the few yard visitors capable of hunting flying insects like wasps and moths.
Since they’re slightly bigger than your average backyard bird, their birdhouse needs a 2.5” entrance hole. Its floor should also be a bit wide at 6×6”.
These peculiar swallows can be a bit fussy with how they choose a nest. However, you’d be pleased to know that they usually opt for artificial houses rather than natural ones. They even have a standard type of birdhouse designed just for them.
This is because they’re drawn to white birdhouses that contain multiple rooms or compartments. As you could imagine, these aren’t easy to come by in the woods, which makes attracting them pretty easy but perhaps a bit pricey.
Whether it’s for their gorgeous plumage, lovely songs, or impressive insect-killing abilities, bluebirds are adored additions to anyone’s backyards.
That said, they have to deal with a lot of bullying from some of the more invasive species of birds out in the wild. If you hope to have them in your yard, you may need to fight these species off.
Plus, they’ll be looking for a cozy corner to protect them from harsh winters. That’s why they require some insulation in the birdhouses.
Since their birdhouses also make ideal nests for other birds, such as sparrows and starlings, they need reflective surfaces or tape to keep sparrows away.
All in all, their houses should have a 1.5” entrance hole and a 5×5” floor that’s 6-10” below the entrance.
Seeing an owl in any setting is always a magical moment. On top of that, these fierce, elegant predators can keep the rodent population to a minimum.
There are different species that you can target based on your location, but you can go up in size to stay on the safe side.
Owl boxes are quite a bit larger than the rest of the birds on this list, with entrances of around 6” with at least 4” above the box’s floor, and they also shouldn’t be smaller than 10×18”.
While these measurements aren’t universal, they’ll work with many owls since they’re okay with nesting in larger spaces.
From ants and beetles to snails, these cheerful little birds forage for small insects on the ground in amounts that are quite surprising for their size.
They’re also very forgiving in their nesting requirements and are known to nest in some odd places. So if you’d like to attract wrens to your backyard, a birdhouse with a 1-2” entrance that’s 6” above its floor will do.
Now that we’ve covered all the types, materials, sizes, and features of birdhouses that you can choose from, let’s talk about what’s there for you in setting up a nest.
Understanding the benefits of having a birdhouse can help narrow down your choices. It’ll also help you avoid birdhouses—and bird types—that might be problematic for you.
Getting a chance to observe these beautiful delicate friends in their daily routines is a good enough reason to start piling birdhouses in your yard.
A study found that people who live in areas where they get to see a lot of birds are less likely to suffer from common mental illnesses. While it’ll never be a replacement for treatments, it might help with depression, stress, or anxiety.
However, you may need to consider what type of bird will be attracted by the particular shape you choose.
For example, the last thing you want to do is accidentally attract predators when you have a chicken coup. Similarly, you may want to house birds that feed on insects (not fruit!) if you have a productive garden.
It might not look like it, but birds have a better green thumb than many humans. They’re an integral part of most land-based ecosystems, and it’s for a good reason!
These chirpers could spread seeds, eliminate weeds from entire meadows, work as unmatched pest control, fertilize the land, and so much more.
If you have a garden and would like some help from mother nature, there are lots of ways you can attract the right type of birds to your yard.
However, it’s not an exact science.
Figure out what type of garden-handy birds you need to attract and find their preferred style of nests before you start birdhouse shopping.
Having an occupied birdhouse in your yard can instantly make it look magical. Whether you want it for its gorgeous look or to impress your neighbors, you won’t be sorry once you get your first avian resident.
Add to this that you don’t need to stick to the boring—albeit classic—pitched-roof style. You can always go for quirky, contemporary, or eco-friendly options to match your vibe!
If you decide to DIY your own birdhouse, the possibilities are even wider.
The bird population isn’t the first thing home improvement that comes to mind when you want to drive your property value up to sell or rent.
However, try to imagine walking into a house you’re considering only to find a collection of birdhouses with colorful local birdies. That’ll completely transform how you feel about the lot!
If you’re aiming to improve the value of your home, consider investing in a large and over-the-top birdhouse tower to dazzle potential buyers!
Whether it’s because of harsh weather conditions, predators in the area, or loss of habitat, some birds’ populations are decreasing by the year in certain regions.
You can influence that by placing birdhouses that are optimized for the vulnerable species around you.
Alternatively, you could provide a shelter that can withstand the common weather conditions in your region, such as blizzards, heat waves, or droughts.
Choosing between all the possible birdhouse types for your yard isn’t the easiest decision. Details such as material, mounting design, and dimensions can be the difference between a happy bird family and an empty nest.
The good news is that some of these details give room for trial and error. Plus, what works for one bird species might not hit it off with the other.
So, start by selecting the material, then consider what birds are available in your region and what dimensions they need.
Soon enough, you’ll be basking in the view of gorgeous birdies flying in your backyard!
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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