No need to ‘wing’ it: You can build a sim­ple bird­house

The Palm Beach Post - Residences - - Front Page -

Ques­tion: We, es­pe­cially the kids, like to feed and watch birds in the back­yard. Do you have any sug­ges­tions for snazzy bird­houses that will at­tract birds to my yard?

An­swer: To at­tract birds to your yard, there are sev­eral things you must pro­vide in ad­di­tion to just the bird­house. They need some trees to hide from preda­tors, food to eat and wa­ter to drink, as well as a cute house. But who doesn’t want a cute house?

De­ter­mine the species of birds in your area and the ones you want to at­tract to your back­yard. Just like peo­ple have their spe­cific pref­er­ences for houses, so do birds. The shape, size, perch, etc. varies for each type of bird.

You will need a halfinch ex­te­rior grade ply­wood for the front, back and floor of the bird­house. Plan the front and back with match­ing pitched rooflines first be­fore lay­ing out the sides to line them up.

Gal­va­nized nails are ad­e­quate to at­tach the sides, front, back, and base to­gether. More ex­pen­sive stain­less steel nails will hold up longer than gal­va­nized and look bet­ter.

A very im­por­tant de­sign fea­ture of the bird­house is the en­trance hole, and to a lesser ex­tent, the over­all size of the bird­house. The size of the hole de­ter­mines what types of birds flock to your yard.

For ex­am­ple, for blue­birds saw a 1 1/2-inch hole, for wrens saw a 7/8-inch hole, for chick­adees saw a 1 1/4-inch hole and for spar­rows saw a 1-inch hole. A 5-by-5-inch floor area is ad­e­quate for a sin­gle nest.

Lo­cate the en­trance hole high enough to place a 1/4-inch dowel perch below it. To jazz it up, you may want to paint a bright sun on the front with the hole in the cen­ter of it. An­other sug­ges­tion is to form small shapes from sheet tin to fit around the bird­house en­trance. Be sure to bend over and smooth out any rough edges.

Cut a piece of sheet tin for the roof of the bird­house, al­low­ing for ex­tra over­hang for rain pro­tec­tion. Make sure to round the cor­ners of the tin and crimp the sharp edges over. Bird­houses look best if old tin is used for the roof, but new tin will weather quickly.

The right mix of gar­den plants and seeds al­ways brings a plethora of birds. The type you plant will de­ter­mine the kinds of birds you at­tract. Sun­flower seeds are good for at­tract­ing chick­adees, car­di­nals, finches and gros­beaks. Make sure you buy the smaller, black sun­flower seeds.

Doves, spar­rows and other ground feed­ers en­joy mil­let. Suet is also a great feed for birds dur­ing the win­ter. This can be in a bas­ket of vinyl-cov­ered wire and hung from a feeder or tree. At­tach the bas­ket firmly so rac­coons don’t get the suet.

A plat­form-style feeder at­tracts all types of birds but also squir­rels and other an­i­mals. This is a flat plat­form raised above the ground on a pole. Plac- ing a bowl just be­neath the feeder on the pole can help de­ter an­i­mals from the food.

A hop­per feeder is less messy in the rain than a plat­form feeder, al­though squir­rels are still able to get to the food in th­ese as well. The hop­per holds a very large amount of seed in a clear, plas­tic-sided, unit and the seeds fil­ter onto a plat­form through a slot. If you build the feeder your­self, the slot should be no more than half-inch wide to keep birds from get­ting stuck in it.

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