Do birds care what the house looks like?

Annette HolbrookMay 28, 2007

I am planning on getting a nice birdhouse for my birthday (DH always gets me something garden related). I want to get an attractive one, white with a copper roof or maybe something folksy that looks like a saltbox house. As you can see I haven't decided and am having a blast online searching.

Anyway, I am planning on mounting it on a post in a bed about 20feet from my front door. I was thinking about a 5-6ft post.

I'm wondering if birds are put off by the cutesy ones with windows and doors or do they just care about the size of the opening?

Any help is appreciated, and sources for nice, long-lived houses would be great!

Thanks all,


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lisa11310(z5 MI)

Hi Annette, I wish I could tell you that your decrative house would be safe for the cavity nesters, but the truth is it is not, especially one with a copper roof. It can get too hot and kill the babies. Windows and doors allow for rain to get in and get the nest wet wich encourages blow fly or other parasites. Mounting it on a post is an invitation for racoons, squirrles, mice etc. If you want a cute box, place a wood scrap painted black behind the door so no birds can get in, it wont spoil the look. If you want to host cavity nesting birds go to the website to learn how to do it properly and safely (for the birds sake). Sadly, natural cavities are dwindling and birds will find whatever they can. Well meaning people put up these decrative boxes thinking they are also doing the birds a favor when in reality they are usually setting them up for failure.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 10:25AM
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terryr(z5a IL)

On the other hand, if house sparrows are what you're after, then they could care less what the house looks like or what it's mounted on. But I'm guessing it's not the HOSP you want to attract....or at least I'm hoping it's not....

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 8:45PM
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Annette Holbrook

Thanks for the reply.
Actually the house I'm thinking about looks like it has windows and doors, but they aren't real openings. Here's an example

I'm also looking at one of the following-

I'm not too worried about raccoons or possums. We have a dog training business and most critters like that tend to stay away from here.

Any thoughts on any of these?


    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 10:04PM
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Annette, those kinds of houses tend to attract non-native birds. If it is to provide housing for birds, I'd do some research and check out the Cornell site on hole size and requirements for a specific species that you are trying to attract. If you just want the house for decoration, I'd plug the holes. As a bird landlord, you will want to provide housing that is safe. If something happens, you feel really bad for attracting birds first and then doing research after. I only say this as it has happened to me. I'm including the link to the Cornell site below. This page has a lot of info, but if you want to look at nest requirements, look under bird bios. Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cornell Bird House Network.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 10:28PM
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lisa11310(z5 MI)

Well, those boxes are cute. Don't expect a native song bird to nest in one for long. You may get lucky and one or two may be successful, but you will attract mostly House Sparrows and Starlings, the smaller holes will bring House Wrens. They will love them and have lots of babies and soon those will be the only birds you have because they will kill your Native Song Birds off. Your choice! I know this sounds harsh. I don't mean to be. I just realy hate the fact that the manufactures of these cute houses do not give warnings or instructions on how to house cavity nesting birds safley. Many people want cute bird houses, they sell , birds suffer. Please close those boxes off.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 12:15AM
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terryr(z5a IL)

Annette, did you decide on a house? Another thing not mentioned is that usually these cute birdhouses don't open up for easy cleaning out of the old nesting material. HOSP won't mind, but any other Native song bird will.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 6:49PM
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Annette Holbrook

Hi all, I decided on the last birdhouse in my pics. I am thinking I will just seal the holes up so it will be totally decorative. My husband and I decided to put the "real" birdhouses down in our meadow. I think we will do a martin house of some sort and then some bluebird houses on the posts around the field.
I'll post some pics when we get them done.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 9:46AM
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lisa11310(z5 MI)

Great idea Annette. I hope you do mean you will put those nest boxes on POLES around the field. Not only are Racoons a danger, but cats, squirrles, chipmunks, rats, mice and snakes.
Thanks for taking the advice about the decorative boxes. Please do read up on how to host the Blues and Martins safely. You will really enjoy them! :D

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 8:41PM
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Annette, You will certainly be glad you did. Lisa makes a good point. You should mount them on metal poles not wood. Visit the bluebird forum here for more info. Enjoy them!

Here is a link that might be useful: bluebirding forum

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 11:05PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA


I just wanted to say that I bought a birdhouse last year called 'Country Nests'. It is very decorative and has windows and door designs on the outside etc. It is placed on the top of an arbor that has vines climbing the sides. It is a functioning birdhouse, with access to clean it out and the correct size hole for a chickadee. This spring we were delighted to see the chickadee take up residence and right now we have been seeing a couple making repeated trips back and forth to the house. So far there doesn't seem to be a problem at all. We are also planning on planting a thorny climbing rose on the arbor so that may also add to it's security. Right now, I say those chickadees have the best roost in the neighborhood. I can't imagine how great it is to be living in the middle of a Honeysuckle vine in bloom. :-)

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 6:02PM
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lisa11310(z5 MI)

well gee, I guess you did not visit the website to learn what safe housing is or how predators can wipe out nestlings. Oh well we tried. I wish your Dees luck, they are one of my favorite birds.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 9:53AM
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lisa11310(z5 MI)

OOPS sorry did not realize this was not the OP. Prairie, please go to the website listed above to find out why your nest is not safe.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 10:06AM
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