June 3rd, 2019
Building and designing your own birdhouse should be fun, right? Yes, so paint your birdhouse ANY color you like! But for bird enthusiasts who are a bit more concerned about color influence, there are particular colors that might increase the chances of a mother bird to move into your newly mounted project. The color of a birdhouse will make a difference for some bird species, and for a few different reasons.
Birds are attracted to colors mainly because of food association. For example, hummingbirds are attracted to the color red because red flower blossoms contain nectar. Yet other reasons may be due to the color difference in feathers between genders of the same species. So it makes sense to paint a birdhouse the same colors that occur in nature.
When it comes to any kind of bird structure, whether it's a birdhouse or bird feeder, red seems to be a very popular choice. Scientifically, red bird feeders have been proven to attract birds more than other colors of bird feeder. As far as birdhouses are concerned, red birdhouses are commonly listed as a popular choice.
Colors of Safety
There is little conclusive research that provides a definitive list of effective birdhouse colors. However, there is some evidence that may suggest that certain colors will influence a mother bird to draw near to a birdhouse structure painted with bright colors. This probably has to do with the fact that humans have always provided birds with brightly colored structures throughout the decades, and a bird's instincts have evolved into recognizing bright colors with "safety."
Colors of Food
It may also have to do with the fact that bird feeders are often made with the same bright colors like green, red and yellow, so they are naturally inclined to draw near to them. This mainly is related to food, but a bird's keen eyesight has enabled them to also associate colors based on their own experience in nature (not influenced by humans), such as recognizing different colors in the feathers of opposite genders of the same bird species.
Here are some other resources to consider when choosing an effective color for your birdhouse project...
Finish Options For Preserving Natural Colors
But what if you don't want to apply any colors to your birdhouse? Could you preserve the natural color of unfinished wood? Absolutely! If you love working with wood, there are methods of preserving the natural color and grain without completely covering the wood surface. Applications for preserving the original look of wood include oil, pre-stain conditioners with white pigment, clear matte polyurethane, transparent wood sealers and clear brushing lacquer.
Consider Natural Applications
When considering a finish application for your project, try homemade remedies designed to preserve real wood without harmful chemicals and foul odors. Natural wood stains derived from coffee, berries and other editable food grade items make viable choices and offer distinct advantages for any wood project. Many combinations of items found in a kitchen cabinet or refrigerator can be used as a non-toxic mixture of natural looking and pleasant smelling concoctions.
Before starting any DIY project, do some research. Once you've done the research, you're going to need some "elbow grease." Yes, that's right "elbow grease" (effort - the opposite of laziness) to finally see positive efforts. Trial and error is what that's all about, and when it comes to stain, there's no shortcut!
Choosing wood with no surface application is also a good choice. Natural wood colors include earth tones of yellow, brown and red, and all variations in between. Wood can show other variations too, such as streaks, knots, blended colors and irregular grain patterns. Wood species to consider are White Pine, Yellow Cedar, Redwood, Red Oak, Black Walnut, Cherrywood and Pink Ivory.
Setting up a birdhouse project for kids is fun and easy for everyone, and let's face it, when it comes to kids, the sky is the limit. There's no telling what they'll come up with when they're done painting. As an adult, you know that kids love painting birdhouses, so just make sure that they have plenty of bright cheerful colors to choose from and they'll have lots of fun... bright red, lime green, hot pink. There's lots of acrylic and latex hobby colors on the market, so just have fun with it.
For adults who know how to work with toxic and non-toxic chemical applications, color options can include stain choices too, such as Early American (traditional brown), Red Mahogany (a deep dark red-brown luster), Golden Oak (yellowish-goldish), Ebony (near solid back). Remember to always use protective eyewear, vinyl gloves and facial respirators when applying chemical-based wood stains. This also included the use of water-based stains.
If you're a serious hobbyist, or maybe you're a seller for an established eCommerce website, then you're probably aware by now that there are people who will purchase a birdhouse for their favorite type of bird. In this case, you'll need to be aware that there are basic guidelines to consider before choosing a color for a birdhouse...
What colors are birds attracted to?
Birds have nothing less than excellent vision. They perceive color very well. According to a study in the U.K., birds have been found to have four color receptive cones, while human eyes only have three. Birds are also able to see well in ultraviolet which produces a change in color perception that humans cannot visually detect. The British Trust for Ornithology conducted trials using 12 different colored feeders with a variety of different bird feed. Summer trials that were conducted in Shropshire, showed that the blue seed feeders were the most popular, followed by dark blue, dark green, burgundy, silver and then red. Winter trials indicated that silver was the most popular, followed by blue, red and then dark green. Read more about what colors birds like.
Avoid this one color in particular!
According to The Spruce, the color white signals alarm, danger and aggression to many birds. Many birds use white in their plumage as a warning. If you're a bird lover, try to avoid adding white finishes to objects and structures in your yard, as this could alert them to stay away. Read more in their article, "Colors That Attract Birds"
School of Environmental Sciences
A study conducted by the School of Environmental Sciences used colored bird feeders and suggested that overall, silver feeders attract the most garden birds but that preferences vary between species. This study found that red and yellow feeders were the least popular colors with almost every species.
If you sell your birdhouse projects on Houzz or other selling forum, be aware of California's Proposition 65. This is a California state law officially known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. The proposition protects the state's drinking water sources from being contaminated with chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and requires businesses with 10 or more employees to inform Californians' about exposure to such chemicals. Yes, even an innocent birdhouse is under scrutiny as far as selling guidelines.
For a list of suggestions for safe vs. hazardous applications for your birdhouse, check out this website.
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