Birdhouses

Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows are great to have in your orchard as they eat insect pests that are attracted to fruit trees (Photo credit: Dreamstime)

Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows are great to have in your orchard as they eat insect pests that are attracted to fruit trees (Photo credit: Dreamstime)

Invite birds into your orchard and you’ll have a free pest control team

For the organic orchardist, one of the best tools to help you protect your fruit trees from pests is a “Bird Box” or bird house that will provide shelter for a family of bluebirds or tree swallows. These birds eat the kinds of insects that can be harmful to fruit trees. Bird hobbiest Josef Kral has built hundreds of these bird boxes over the last 20 years and he has placed them in organic orchards and conservation areas around Guelph, Ontario.

Joe Krall has built, maintained and monitored almost a thousand of these birdboxes over the years...many are standing in organic orchards around Geulph, Ontario

Joe Krall has built, maintained and monitored almost a thousand of these birdboxes over the years…many are standing in organic orchards around Geulph, Ontario

These birdhouses have happily housed thousands of birds over the years

In 2011 Joe had 539 bird boxes up in the Guelph region and out of that number 433 were successful – 15 bird boxes were even occupied twice. Joe keeps meticulous records of his boxes (each has a unique number) and knows exactly how many fledged birds were born in each box. Between 1995 and 2012, 28,240 fledgling birds were hatched in his bird boxes. And yes, you are reading the number right…it is more than 28 thousand!

We have a limited number of these reclaimed birdhouses for sale…order now!

It’s a lot of work for Joe to monitor the hundreds of birdhouses. Now that he is getting older he is taking a number of them down so that he has fewer boxes to visit and monitor. The boxes were built to last and so we at Orchard People have sourced 20 of them to sell to our customers. They are built of wood and covered with a metal roof to protect the house from water damage. They all have their original identification number on them and they should be installed on a galvanized steel fencepost in an open space in your garden.

For prices and more information email us today!

How to care for your orchard birdhouse and for the baby birds

Maintenance is minimal. Each box has a side that you can open and close. You can secure that side with a screwdriver to prevent unwanted critters from getting in and stealing unhatched eggs! Each year you must clean your birdhouse in the early spring to ensure there is no remnants of last year’s nest inside as birds will not settle in a dirty nest. From time to time you can gently open the box to see if there is a nest,  eggs or baby birds inside. Learn to identify the birds: these houses attract tree swallows, Eastern Bluebirds, House Wrens, and Black-capped Chickadees.

The success of your birdhouse may depend on the weather and other conditions in any given year. In 2011, for instance, Joe had fewer Eastern Bluebirds born in his boxes because about 40 percent of their diet depends on grasshoppers and the grasshoppers appeared later than usual that year and some of the baby bluebirds he found were starving and died young. In contrast, in 2012, the season was hot and dry and so the Eastern Bluebirds started nesting early with the first babies hatching on April 30th.

Joe monitors his birdboxes regularly and records the changes from year to year. He even holds the baby birds gently in his hands even though the urban myth is that once a baby bird has been touched by human hands it will be rejected by its mother. If you do touch the baby birds…just please be gentle!

Meet Joe as he demonstrates how to clean and care for your birdhouse

You can learn more about how to clean and care for your birdhouse by clicking the link below. It’s a video of Joe showing off one of his birdhouses.

Joe Kral demonstrates how to clean your birdhouse

To find out what types of birds we have in Toronto click here.

Each of Joe Kral’s birdhouses has an identification number. Joe kept detailed lists of how many birds were born in these houses every year.

Similar birdhouses can be found in organic orchards across Ontario. This one is at Avalon Orchards in Innisfil, Ontario. This birdhouse was not made by Joe (no metal roof and a much simpler design) but it’s a good example of how to locate your birdhouse…open areas are best so that squirrels and other critters can’t jump off trees or fences to scare the baby birds – or worse!