A project we are getting serious about this year on the farm is our birdhouses. Birdhouses have been a real tradition here on the Ziegler homestead. Steve’s grandfather was a real bird lover and provided for them, some of his houses are still here. Steve has followed in those footsteps and enjoys making birdhouses too.
We have learned through the years that you can nail a house anywhere, but to ensure the safety of the babies and the adults you should follow a few guidelines. Tragedies can still happen, but these steps help to prevent them.
- The size of the entrance hole of the house matters. It dictates what size bird can get in and goes a long way in helping to protect who’s inside.
- Be cautious of installing houses that are intended as decoration. They often have large entrance holes. Keep them indoors as decorations.
- Installing the birdhouse on a free standing pole with proper baffles eliminates crawling and climbing predators like snakes, raccoons and other vermin.
- Only install houses that the side or front opens so you can clean the box after every brood of babies.
- The best place to get an education is on birding organization websites or a wild bird store. Learn from a knowledgeable bird lover about different houses and what the specific features do to protect what’s inside.
I challenge you to think about how you can provide one safe home to a specific bird species this winter. Look up what that species needs in a way of housing, perhaps what you could offer as food, and for all birds have fresh water year round. Birdbath water heaters are inexpensive and will draw more birds to your garden than any feeder! (Find them at your local wild bird store.)
Here on the farm we are installing new Eastern Bluebird houses and a screech owl box this year. Checkout this cool Hungry Owl Project page. I know we have screech owls here so I’m going to roll-out the red carpet and invite them to come eat our voles and mice. Keep up with us on Facebook and we will post a video installing them when the time comes!
Lisa Mason Ziegler is a commercial cut-flower farmer in Newport News, Virginia; she lectures and writes about organic and sustainable gardening. You can email Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org , call her at 757-877-7159 or visit her website www.shoptgw.com.