Do Birds Use Birdhouses In Winter? Birds Advice
Placing birdhouses in the backyard is one of the great ways to attract cavity-nester birds. These enclosed houses allow hundreds of bird species to stay and raise their families. Many folks take their birdhouses down before winter, but others leave theirs out all year round.
Now, the question is, “Do Birds Use Birdhouses in Winter?” Birds use birdhouses in need of seeking protected places to sleep or roost. In winter climates, a few songbirds, such as chickadees, bluebirds, titmice, and some woodpeckers use birdhouses to stay warm.
In this article, we’re going to talk about why birds use birdhouses in winter. We’ll also show you about how you can winterize your birdhouses and how to attract birds to them. If you’re willing to know what birds use birdhouses in winter, keep reading the post until the end.
Handy Hint: To read more about winter birds, visit our other article about birds survive in the winter [here] and hummingbirds in winter [here]
Why Do Birds Use Birdhouses in Winter?
Not all birds migrate to warmer regions during winter, and not all non-migratory birds take shelter in trees or shrubs. This is why birdhouses are the places where the non-migratory birds can be safe, warm, and protected from predators during cold winter.
Birds use birdhouses for mainly two reasons: nesting and roosting. Nesting includes building nests and laying eggs, which occurs in the summer and spring months. When birdhouses can be a safe place for laying eggs, hatching and growing them, they’re called nest boxes.
On the other hand, roosting refers to sleeping or resting, usually in the winter months. During cold climates, finding dry places is too critical for birds. Birdhouses, at that moment, can be an excellent place for roosting, and therefore, they’re called roost boxes.
You can read also about “Where Do Hummingbirds Go In The Winter?” Full blog here
Why Don’t Birds Use Your Birdhouse in Winter?
In our opinion, birds don’t use your birdhouse in winter due to the 4 most common problems: bad timing, lack of cleanliness, inappropriate placement, and wrong configuration. Now, let’s have a look at the issues that we’ve already associated with empty birdhouses.
- Bad Timing: First of all, if you take your birdhouse down in later fall or early winter, chances are birds won’t come to your birdhouse. Again, if you add your birdhouse to the backyard in late winter, birds won’t know about your birdhouse, and therefore, they don’t use it. So, you have to make sure that you place your birdhouse around your home in early winter.
- Lack of Cleanliness: Typically, birds don’t like dirty places to stay. If your birdhouse is not properly cleaned, chances are birds won’t come to your birdhouse. That’s why clean your birdhouse thoroughly before winter.
- Inappropriate Placement: You might hang your birdhouse close to predators or far away from food and water sources. The front side of your birdhouse might face chilly winds in winter. These are probably the reasons why birds don’t use your birdhouse. Hence, you have to make sure that you place your birdhouse far away from predators, close to food and water sources, and facing the opposite of the winds.
- Wrong Configuration: When you’re intended to place a birdhouse, you have to make sure that the birdhouse’s configuration supports the size of different birds. You may build a small birdhouse, and slightly large birds cannot enter into it. This is why birds don’t use your birdhouse.
Some Birds That Use Birdhouses in Winter
As you know, not all birds stay in winter climates. Even not all non-migratory birds use birdhouses to sleep or roost. However, many different bird species use birdhouses, and we’re now going to share with you some of them below.
#Tits and Chickadees:
- Tufted Titmouse
- Blue Tit
- Marsh Tit
- Coal Tit
- Great Tit
- Black-Capped Chickadee
- Carolina Chickadee
- Chestnut-Backed Chickadee
#Ducks and Wrens:
- Wood Duck
- Common Goldeneye
- Hooded Merganser
- House Wren
- Carolina Wren
#Sparrows and Finches:
- House Sparrow
- House Finch
- Zebra Finch
#Warblers and Flycatchers:
- Pied Flycatcher
- Lucy’s Warbler
- Ash-Throated Flycatcher
- Great Crested Flycatcher
#Swallows and Swifts:
- Tree Swallow
- Violet-Green Swallow
- Purple Martin
- Pileated Woodpecker
- Downy Woodpecker
- Red-Bellied Woodpecker
- Red-Headed Woodpecker
- Hairy Woodpecker
#Creepers and Nuthatches:
- Brown-Headed Nuthatch
- White-Breasted Nuthatch
- Brown Creeper
- Red-Breasted Nuthatch
#Bluebirds and Robins:
- Eastern Bluebird
- Mountain Bluebird
- Western Bluebird
- European Robin
#Kestrels and Owls:
- American Kestrel
- Lesser Kestrel
- Eastern Screech Owl
- Western Screech Owl
- Barn Owl
- Tawny Owl
How to Winterize a Birdhouse
You may have used a birdhouse in summer and fall, and you would like to prepare it for winter. In this case, you have to follow some steps to winterize your birdhouse, making the right environment for roosting. We’re now going to describe the steps for you.
- Clean Your Birdhouse: When you’re going to place a birdhouse in your backyard, ensure that the birdhouse is thoroughly cleaned. Cleaning includes getting rid of any old nesting materials from the birdhouse and repairing any damage if required.
- Insulate the Inside of the Birdhouse: Once you’ve cleaned your birdhouse and repair any damage, insulate the inside, especially air holes and cracks, to ensure much warmth. You can block these with hay, rags, foam, or duct tape to keep it from extreme wind.
- Create Perches Inside the Birdhouse: After insulating the birdhouse thoroughly, you have to create perches to huddle together and share their body heat. To create perches, you can add a wooden dowel or a twig inside the birdhouse to allow birds to roost.
- Place the birdhouse in the Proper Location: Finally, you have to place your birdhouse in the right location. Make sure the birdhouse gets full sunlight so that it can stay warm in the evening. It should also be protected from heavy winds and predators.
What Attracts Birds to a Birdhouse in Winter?
Placing a birdhouse doesn’t mean there will be plenty of birds out there. You have to attract birds to your birdhouse by providing them food, water, shelter, and a friendly environment. Now, let’s know how to attract birds to birdhouses with these essentials.
- Food: If you want to attract birds to your birdhouse, you have to offer them a wide variety of food sources, such as black oil sunflower seeds, suet, mealworms, and other natural foods.
- Water: Birds need a clean water source to drink and bathe. If you’re willing to attract them, you can provide them with fresh water. You can also offer them birdbath fountains, not for drinking water but light-catching sparkles and splashing sounds.
- Shelter: All birds must require shelter when they overwinter in cold climates. If you make birds understand that your birdhouse is a thicket-like shelter, they will definitely come to it. Make sure your birdhouse is safe from poor weather and predators.
- Friendly Environment: To attract birds to your birdhouse, you have to ensure bird-friendly landscaping, native plants, and naturalized areas so that birds can feel comfortable. If you can make such a friendly environment around your birdhouse, birds will surely start using your birdhouse in winter.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Is it okay to paint a birdhouse?
A painted birdhouse may be beautiful, but a poorly chosen paint can be poisonous to birds and will like to attract predators. However, if you want to paint your birdhouse, make sure that you paint it black or dark colors to help absorb more heat in winter.
2. When should you clean out birdhouses?
When birds’ breeding season is over, typically in early to late August, you should clean out your birdhouse. Get rid of all old nesting materials, make a solution of nine parts water and one part bleach, and rinse it with the solution pretty well. Leave it in an open place to dry thoroughly.
3. What direction should a birdhouse face?
A birdhouse should face the opposite direction from extreme winds, which means it should face a northeasterly direction. If you place your birdhouse facing tremendous winds, birds won’t come to your birdhouse to roost in winter.
4. What color do birds hate?
Almost all birds hate white, whether it’s bright or dull, because white signals dangers and triggers them to leave the place. So, you should avoid using white when you’re painting your birdhouse.
Winter can be a time for bird-watching if you offer birds a birdhouse with food, water, shelter, and an excellent environment. To do that, you have to change your birdhouse from the nest box to the roost box, which means making it usable for birds in winter.
However, we hope you find the article really helpful in preparing a birdhouse for birds. If you have any queries regarding the birdhouse or have experience setting your birdhouse in the backyard, you can let us know below in the comment section.
Enjoy watching birds in winter!
Great article! Aside from adding beauty to my property, a birdhouse allows me to provide a safe haven for small birds and potentially their young.