There’s much more to birding than simply staking a feeder into the ground or hanging a bird house on a tree. A great deal of thought and planning can go into the placement of the feeder or house, or even just what kind of food you’ll be offering. One thing that may go overlooked in the process is when it’s best to set up your bird houses. It’s effectively impossible to set one up too early, as migratory birds are always able to use them as a winter shelter if nothing else. But do it too late and the houses might simply be overlooked by birds that have already begun to scout out nesting locations.
The easiest thing to do is to simply leave the bird house up year-round, save for taking it down for cleaning after nesting season. That way, you can be sure that come springtime, you won’t miss any birds that might otherwise select your bird house as a nesting spot – and as an added bonus, you’ll be providing potential shelter from the elements and predators to migratory birds.
But leaving the bird house up year-round isn’t for everyone, so what do you do if you took the house down at the end of the season and are trying to decide when to put it back up? There is no one agreed-upon date or even specified range of dates that is the optimal time to set up a birdhouse. What is beyond debate, however, is one thing – some nesting birds start scouting potential nesting sites as early as January or February. Accordingly, it might make the most sense to put your bird house up sometime around late November or early December, in order to get it somewhat integrated into the natural environment.
If that’s still too early for you and you’re trying to attract a certain type of bird to the house, then perhaps another strategy is in order. It’s a strategy that requires a little more work, but has just as much payoff in the end. Simply keep track of when birds first show up in your yard each spring, and then set up the bird house about a week or so beforehand. The hope, then, is that no other birds will be able to claim the house for themselves before your desired birds show up. Admittedly, it works best only on birds that have been regular visitors to your yard over a period of years, and only then if you’ve been diligently observing them – but so long as those requirements are met, the strategy should work out.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember, however, is to not wait until you’ve seen birds in your yard to set up your houses. If the appearance of said birds is what you’ve been waiting for to get everything together, then you’re likely too late to get them to settle into your houses. It’s not impossible – some birds have multiple broods per year, after all – but it is certainly less likely. Just put the houses up on your own schedule – the birds will show up when they show up and can take care of themselves from there.
Whenever you decide to put up your bird houses, your backyard birds will love having a safe place to nest and raise their young. Shop birdhouses and roosting houses at Duncraft.com. Happy Birding!
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By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers
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