Birdhouses in Winter

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It seems odd to even be thinking about building birdhouses right now when what I’m really thinking about most is shoveling my driveway. Looking outside my window, at this very moment there are maybe a dozen birds with little clubs banging on the house trying to get in where it’s warm. It’s like a scene from “The Walking Dead,” except the horde trying to get in is much smaller. And a lot more feathery.

Watch a Preview of the DVD
“Building Birdhouses with AJ Hamler” below.

But the truth is that many cavity-nesting birds start looking for homes earlier than you may think. This is probably no surprise in the sunny South, where some cavity-nesting birds are already beginning to set up homes in available birdhouses. When they’re not on the beach sipping piña coladas, of course. But even up here in the frozen North birds start house hunting as early as mid-March, with an even bigger crush of nest-building coming in April and May. This means that right now is the best time to be out in your (preferably heated) workshop building birdhouses so you can have them mounted in the yard with a “For Rent” sign when the birds come knocking.

Classic Birdhouse Beauty 2Make sure you know what cavity-nesters you have in your area, and then build accordingly by sizing both the house and the entry hole appropriately for the birds where you live. If you’ve been feeding the birds this winter like I have (which has kept that banging on the outside of my house to a minimum), you may already have seen several. Chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, flickers and downy woodpeckers all hang around during winter, and they’re all birds that will readily move into a birdhouse if you build one for them. If you have these birds flying around your feeders now, you can bet that they’ll be needing a place to live pretty soon.

Download a chart for sizing your birdhouse for your local friends.

Other cavity-nesters that fly South for the piña coladas in winter – such as bluebirds, wrens and swallows – will be arriving back home soon, too. I’ve already seen a couple of early wrens, so I know spring isn’t far away in spite of what the groundhog may have predicted. In the meantime, you can find me in my workshop where I’ll be getting their new homes ready for when nesting season really gets underway.

I may even get around to shoveling my driveway before then.

If you’d like to get a jump on giving the birds a comfortable home, take a look at my new video on “Building Birdhouses“. The instructions are basic enough for a first-time builder, and you may even want to pull the kids into the process for some quality time.

AJ Hamler

2 thoughts on “Birdhouses in Winter

  1. Jim Dee

    AJ: THANK YOU for posting the good data on sizing the opening to the species you’re wanting to attract. I see so many woodworkers who focus on the whimsy, pour hours into their birdhouse, and make something absolutely gorgeous but with an opening sized to let competing species wreck the birds’ nest, or without accommodation for cleaning out the house between nesting seasons. Before you know it, you’re hosting cavity-nesting rodents rather than birds . . .

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