Birdhouses and Bird Feeders

by Marcus Pickett

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When it comes to observing animals, nothing gets more face time than birds. Watching our feathered friends is a popular pastime for many people of many different ages. A serious bird watcher can spend a lot of time outfitting him or herself with equipment (both physical and mental) to do the job in the wild. For those who would rather have the wild come to them, putting up a birdhouse or bird feeder will do the trick quickly and without the worry of poisonous snakes or even mosquito bites.

Bird Feeders
Even before a habitat, a bird feeder is the most logical first step for those who want to watch birds on their property. Offering free food in any form will draw birds to your yard; if you simply scatter birdseed in your lawn, it's likely you will soon draw a small crowd. People like to have bird feeders, though, because it gives you more control over a few aspects of observing the birds.

Having a feeder means you can decide where your watching spot will be and put it directly in your line of sight. Also, having the food off of the ground gives you a view that won't be obstructed by tall grass. Make sure that the feeder is easily visible from a comfortable spot (a deck or picture window is perfect). There can sometimes be issues with non-birds (squirrels and the like) that come around to eat birdseed. They will have a more difficult time gorging themselves if the food is in a feeder, especially if that feeder is designed specifically to keep them away. Keep in mind that responsible bird feeding requires a bit of diligence. Some birds will come to depend on your food. If the food were to stop coming, they could end up in a real bind.

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Hire a Carpenter

While they require more patience, and a little more know how, birdhouses are much more desirable than feeders for some bird enthusiasts. Birdhouses require technique and attention to detail. When executed successfully, birdhouses become homes for specific birds for moderate to great lengths of time, depending on the species. Birdhouses also require less maintenance than bird feeders, and cost less money in the long run. Even if you hire a professional to build your birdhouse, after it's installed, there should be no more cost to you. Bird feeders, on the other hand have to be stocked and restocked. Though it probably won't put you in the poor house, it still takes time. Birdhouses, as soon as they are put up, are pretty much a done deal.

Birdhouse Plans
There are a wide variety of birdhouse plans. If you're looking for a weekend project to complete with the kids, a simple birdhouse kit is a great way to see what birds you might be able to attract. On the other hand, while some birds will live anywhere, many are quite picky about what they will call home. The best birdhouse plans are bird-specific and should be followed exactly, or the more finicky species will see the finished product as uninhabitable. For the beginner, your birdhouse plan should be designed for species that are common in your area to increase the likelihood of a resident. Once you get good, you can go after the more rare varieties with a better chance of success. Finally, you don't necessarily need to rely on a birdhouse plan or any manmade birdhouse, at least not one from scratch. If you have an old tree that's getting in your way, you should know that tree stumps make for superb birdhouses, especially if you adorn the stump with vines and foliage.

Birdhouse and Bird Feeder Landscaping
As much as you may love birds, don't forget about your home and your landscaping. These features can and should be used to great effect to enhance your home's landscaping. Down the road, you may even want to start a garden for your home and these features make for great garden "bones," the permanent structures around which flowers and shrubs are planted and organized.

Marcus Pickett is a professional freelance writer for the home remodeling industry. He has published more than 600 articles on both regional and national topics within the home improvement industry.