Friday, March 6, 2015

For the Birds

Rebecca Hershman, Animal Lover.  That's what my return address labels read, the ones my parents let me purchase when I was in the fourth grade (I was also an avid pen-pal at the time).  Some things never change, I guess.  I still have a very strong affinity for critters, and was recently compelled to purchase some new homes for my feathered friends.

At the beginning of the new year, I purchased five new bird houses to attract and keep some of the avian critters around.  I purchased three wren/chickadee homes, one bluebird home, and a screech owl/kestrel nesting box.

My husband sprayed the outside of the homes with some fine textured finish Rust-Oleum and some water-based Polycrylic protective finish to help the birdy homes last longer.  I decided against painting the homes, 1) because the light wood color helps to keep the home cooler inside during the brutal Texas heat and 2) because I'm no artist.

Next, I had to find the right placements for the boxes.  Different birds like to be different heights above the ground, in certain locations, and spaced certain amounts away from other nesting boxes, all of which had to be taken into account.

One of the wren/chickadee homes was hung under the eave of the porch, a nice protected area that faces out onto the backyard and feeder food sources.  Another was positioned on top of a fence pillar, facing the back garden, where the birds will find many seed and nectar sources.

The third wren/chickadee home was nailed to the backyard fence, facing into the backyard of natural and supplemental food sources, as well as positioned in a perfect spot for me to view future residents from the kitchen window.

The bluebird box needs to face an open field for the named birds to find it welcoming.  As luck would have it, I just so happened to have an old clothes-drying post in the backyard, positioned just in the right place where the nesting box faces the open park behind our property.  Perfect for my little bluebird friends.

The final installment was the screech owl/kestrel box, which was attached to one of the trees the lines the side of our property line.  The box was placed about 10-12 feet high, and faces into the backyard.  It is in a great spot for us to view from the kitchen or family room, and hopefully positioned well so that the future predator residents can be the sentinels of the yard - keeping watch and capturing any rodents and vermin that may invade the gardens.

Unfortunately, an unwelcome and invasive European starling already took up residence in the owl box.  We had to kick him/her out (nesting material was removed and the little door of the box was covered up with a nifty sliding component of the box).  We will open the box back up in a week or two, and hopefully not too late for an owl to find it inviting.

I do not yet have a purple martin house, but this is definitely on my garden wish list for the next year. For now, I can at least enjoy the purple martins that are attracted to my next door neighbors' martin apartment.  I look forward to the mating and nesting season ahead, and to see what feathered friends make their homes in the houses I've provided.

For details on bird house dimensions and placements, I found the Wild Bird Watching and NestWatch sites helpful.


  1. Great little houses, all. I especially like the wren house. Hmmm. Maybe I need one or two of those. We've had a screech owl family for the last 7 years. I've been chasing off a squirrel all winter--he's very determined. I need to get back out there now, plug up the hole and hope for the best. Good luck with yours. My experience has been, "If you put it up, they will come." A bit of a paraphrase there.

  2. Hot stuff! I can not wait to see all the future posts featuring bird photos since you are so clearly throwing out the welcome mats. Silly must have thought it had found the most perfect spot. Hope you have a more box-appropriate owl family taking up residence before long!

  3. You're going to have so much action this spring! Bummer about the starling in the owl house, but hopefully you've discouraged it enough to give an owl a chance.