Gourd houses for wild birds are the oldest bird houses used by man.
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They make excellent bird nesting homes. Native North Americans were the first to craft gourds into bird houses to attract wild birds.
Gourd birdhouses are so loved by wild birds.
The number one problem though for a natural gourd abode, it is difficult to clean out at the end of the season, unless the crafter has devised a clever way to include a resealable opening.
Man-made gourd styles have a door built-in to open for cleaning. Which is a nice feature. You will have to decide which is better for you.
Studies have been conducted to determine which type of bird house material wild birds prefer.
It has been documented that Purple Martins prefer gourds, hands down, to any other bird house building material.
Many other species indicated a preference for natural gourd abodes too, making it the #1 bird nesting choice for cavity nestors!
A larger compartment size at 10” to 12” in diameter. This makes for much roomier housing space which Purple Martins are proving to be attracted to more than traditional “apartment complexes”.
Traditional Purple Martin Houses are built with 6” x 6” compartment size, which appears now not to be the ideal size.
Larger compartments provide drier nests, less crowded conditions and fewer predator problems which allow fledglings to remain in the nest until maturity.
The larger living space allows for more depth between the entrance hole and the floor of the home too.
This makes a significant safety barrier against depredation from House Sparrows, Starlings and Blackbirds, for all cavity nesting species.
There has been another discovery assisting in the battle against nesting bird predators. It has been observed that Purple Martin houses that have entrance holes that are 2 inch crescent shaped, are less susceptible to predation. Starlings and Blackbirds find it difficult to navigate a hole this shape and size, but Purple Martins are able to use the entrance without difficulty.
Gourd houses provide better insulation properties all year.
They keep the warmth in during cold weather and the heat out during summer.
(Wooden bird houses also have this same advantage.)
Metal, such as aluminum , has poor insulation properties.
It is important to note that in some years when there is cold temperatures in May and June, can cause high mortality rates in the Purple Martin population in the northern United States and Canada.
Perhaps paying attention to the differences in regional temperatures and the effect that has on bird house building materials is warranted.
Many species of birds will choose gourd bird houses over other types as mentioned earlier, but interesting enough House Sparrows do not.
This is particularly good news for some people, as House Sparrows have acquired a bad reputation over the years for their aggressive behaviour, especially towards nesting Bluebirds.
This dislike of House Sparrows has been particularly accentuated as people assisted the Bluebird population over the past couple of decades, in its recovery from near extinction.
The House Sparrow would often oust a Bluebird family from a bird box, which was set up as part of the recovery program, even killing the baby birds and the parents.
So perhaps the use of gourds as birdhouses could be a benefit to the Bluebird population in stopping House Sparrows from usurping their homes.
The natural colour of gourds are most often chosen first over other brightly painted ornamental birdhouses.
But this does not mean that brightly coloured gourds would not be used.
It is also important to note, that gourds as a craft, have been the objects of beautiful artistic talent and still used by our feathered friends over the years!
Swallows, Purple Martins and other social species of birds.
These species like to raise their young in close proximity to one another of the same species.
To accommodate these types of birds, gourds can be strung up on a line or a pole system with arms that provide a place to hang the gourds.
Hanging the gourds in clusters like this will support the setting these social birds thrive on.
Wrens, Chickadees, Woodpeckers, House Sparrows, Bluebirds, and some Finches are all cavity nesters who will use a gourd home. (Don't be surprised if some birds use your gourd for a place to roost and not bother to build a nest in it.
Most wild birds are territorial in their nesting habits. These cavity nester's will require 20 or 30 feet between their homes to be comfortable with their neighbours.
Some don’t mind being closer to different species, but they will adamantly drive others of their own kind out of their territory.
Knowing that putting up a gourd house will be the number one choice by many wild birds has a special satisfaction.
Learn about roosting boxes.which your gourd house may also be used as, a place to spend the night!