Thanks to some gifts of birdhouses from Local friends, we're sporting a serious bird village at BetterFarm after the weekend.

Each spring, we do an annual clean-up and repair session of birdhouses throughout the property. We have almost a dozen birdhouses we keep up and manage for our feathered tenants—including a gorgeous bluebird house given to us last year by the New York State Bluebird Society. Last week, our friend Carl stopped by with two gorgeous, large houses made from slab wood by a craftsman in Goveurneur, N.Y., and our friend Shirley Kimberley out in Plessis gave us four bluebird houses her husband Greg had made. So yesterday we took advantage of all the sunshine to hang the houses throughout the backyard. Here are the bluebird houses all in a row:

 The houses Carl brought us are too large for a simple mounting, so some stabilizers were in order:
For the other house from Carl, we mounted it on a post that used to hold a bird feeder that has since fallen apart:
Birdwatching off the back deck is going to be pretty extreme this summer: four bluebird houses to right along a row of trees, two giant houses in plain sight, a small bluebird house on a small mount in the middle of the yard, plus a purple martin bird complex on the tall post way in the back.

Regular birdhouses should be placed in safe locations away from predators where birds will feel secure. Bluebirds need a few extra amenities, outlined here courtesy of the New York State Bluebird Society:
  • Bluebirds nest in open fields or orchards. They don't generally nest in cities or suburbs.
  • Place the box in an open an area as possible, do not mount on trees or buildings. Keep away from the edge of woods as house wrens will fill them up with sticks.
  • mount the box 4 to 6 feet up a pole, tree, or board
  • put a guard on the pole to keep out raccoons, snakes and other potential predators.
  • Try to face the box opening towards a tree or bush to give thefledglings something to fledge to
  • Do not face the box opening INTO the prevailing wind direction
  • Place boxes 100 yards from each other to minimize bluebird territory overlap. This distance can be reduced if there are trees/shrubs/landscape that break up the line of sight between the boxes.
  • Consider placing boxes in pairs, either back to back or within 4-6 feet of each other to encourage tree swallows and bluebirds to both nest. They will tolerate each other but not pairs of their same species.
  • If you don't get bluebirds in some boxes (or too many house wrens) after a couple seasons, consider moving them to another location.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.