A visitor to my blog asked a question about building a birdhouse and I decided to post the question and my answer here. 


I haven’t been able to figure out where to ask my question, so I thought I’d post it here. My sons (ages 8 and 5) and I are building a birdhouse this weekend to place in our back yard.

We live in Lincoln, CA, about 35 miles northeast of Sacramento, CA. your website mentions that a birdhouse should be built to attract a specific kind of bird (entrance hole size, placement above ground etc.). We’re not picky, but would like to give our birdhouse a good chance at being used.

What are the most common backyard birds in the Sacramento valley area? We’re planning on building a simple pineboard birdhouse. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

My Reply
Are you providing birdseed for your backyard birds? A mix of black-oiled sunflower and shelled sunflower kernels will attract the most kinds of feeder birds. Most blends also include striped sunflower and millet. You can purchase a good blend at Costco or at Wild Birds Unlimited.

This pdf article gives you some basic information about building a nest box or birdhouse.

You’ll probably attract the most types of nesting birds with a birdhouse opening of 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

Place the birdhouse between 6 and 12 feet from the ground. My nest boxes are on trees at about 8 – 10 feet from the ground and Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Oak Titmice have both raised young in my boxes.

Put your birdhouse up as soon as possible so the birds will find it this spring. If possible place near trees as most birds prefer a more protected area without too much activity.

This is a good all-around bird box that will attract many birds. If possible hinge the front so you can clean out the box at the end of the season.

Dimensions in inches
Top – 8 x 7
Sides – 8 x 5 x 10
Front – 4 1/2 x 8
Bottom 4 1/2 x 5
Back – 7 x 13
Opening – 1 1/2 inches diameter

Nesting birds in your area include
Oak Titmouse
Western Bluebird
House Wren
Bewick’s Wren
Tree Swallow
Downy Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker
Nuttall’s Woodpecker

To help identify birds
All About Birds

If your boys like bird watching and feeding and identifying the birds you might consider signing up for Project FeederWatch, a citizen science bird identification program. The season ends in April for this year but you could signup for the 2009-2010 season which begins in November later this year.
Information about Project FeederWatch

If your family become bird watchers you might get a Bird Guide to help you identify birds. The Pederson Field Guide of Western Birds and the Sibley Field Guide for Birds of Western North America are both excellent guides. You’ll also need an inexpensive pair of binoculars.

You might also put up a hummingbird feeder. The most common hummingbird of California is Anna’s Hummingbird.

You can make your own hummingbird food (do not add food coloring which will harm the birds).

Recipe for hummingbird food
4 cups water
1 cup sugar

Bring water to a rolling boil. Remove from heat. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Cool and pour into feeder. Extra solution can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week. Change the solution in the feeder once a week.