Are Ceramic Birdhouses Safe for Birds?

Ceramic makes a stylish and sleek alternative to the traditional birdhouse, made of wood or possibly plastic. The shiny luster of ceramic adds a modern touch to the outdoor landscape, perfect for bringing a mid-century modern or a contemporary aesthetic into your yard or garden. If you decide to install a ceramic birdhouse, make sure that it provides a safe home for your local birds.

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In most cases, ceramic is an excellent alternative material for birdhouses.

Ceramic Designs

Using ceramic as a building material permits birdhouse designers to incorporate far more sinuous and playful forms than basic carpentry would allow with wood. Of the many ceramic birdhouses available, you might opt for a design that echoes the classic pitched-roof house shape, commonly used among wooden birdhouses. Instead of rigid, flat planes, these houses have very subtle curves to each of the walls, giving the design a softer look. Alternatively, you can opt for a whimsical egg-shaped birdhouse in a bright, cheerful color. For a slight variation on the egg-shaped design, you can purchase a ceramic birdhouse with a gourdlike shape, complete with a short stem at the top.

Dimensions

If you opt for a ceramic birdhouse with an unusual shape, make sure that its dimensions are still reasonably well-suited to the recommended house sizes for birds living in your area. The entrance hole, the height of the entrance above the interior floor, the depth and the width of the birdhouse will all determine which species of birds can comfortably nest inside. For example, a chickadee requires an entrance diameter of 1-1/8 inches, situated 6 to 8 inches above the floor of the birdhouse.

Ventilation

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cautions against mounting birdhouses without sufficient ventilation. Especially if the house is mounted in a sunny spot, it can quickly turn into an oven during summer months. Look for a ceramic birdhouse that has some small ventilation holes, usually located towards the top of the house, just below the roof.

Key Details

Ceramic, itself, doesn't pose any threat to birds. However, a ceramic birdhouse that has been treated with toxic glazing makes an unhealthy home for your local feathered friends. Check that any glaze used on your ceramic birdhouse doesn't have any lead or other potentially harmful chemicals. For houses made from ceramics or any other material, avoid designs that have a perch just outside the entrance, as it offers an excellent place for predatory birds, such as starlings, to wait for the birds within.