The question I used to hear most often from folks around the country was, “Jerry, how can I get rid of all these pesky pests?” But my, how times change! Nowadays, people are asking for advice on welcoming wildlife — especially birds — into their yards. So while you’re waiting for the weather to warm up so you can officially dig into garden season, why not set up a custom-built birdhouse to welcome winged wonders to your yard?
Some birdhouses are so fancy, I wouldn’t mind shrinking down and moving into them myself. But most birds will be delighted if you just give them a nice simple box to call home. Build one out of scrap lumber, put a slanted roof on top, and drill a hole in front for a door. (Just don’t use pressure-treated wood; the chemicals can leach out and harm your tenants.) The dimensions depend on the birds you’re hoping to attract, but here are some general tips:
- Don’t put a perch on your house. It won’t make life any easier for the resident birds, and it will provide a handy way for predators to gain easy-as-pie entrance.
- Make one section of the house removable so that you can clean up after everyone moves out. But make sure you’re the only one who can remove it — not squirrels, owls, or the neighbor’s cat. I like to use a simple hook-and-eye fastener.
- Drill an entrance hole that’s big enough for the invited birds to get through and small enough to keep out everyone else.
- Put a piece of sheet metal on the front, with a hole cut out to be exactly the size of the entrance hole. That way, squirrels won’t gnaw the hole bigger, squeeze in, and set up housekeeping.
- Hang the house where cats and other bird or egg eaters can’t get to it. It should be at least 6 feet off the ground and well out of leaping range from fences and walls.
- Attach an anti-climbing collar to the support post or tree trunk. I like to make a cone out of aluminum sheet metal and fasten it on, wide end downward, a foot or so below the house.
Now all you have to do is get ready for flocks of feathered friends to fly by and check it out!