The History of Birdhouses

Updated April 17, 2017

Today, birdhouses come in a wide array of colours, shapes, sizes and uses. Some are meant to attract rare birds so they may be studied by researchers, while others are purely decorative. Most bird houses are enclosed and dark and dry inside with a small to medium hole, the best environment for birds wishing to nest somewhere safe and quiet. The history of birdhouses is long and extends to several different areas of the world.


Birdhouses were built in Turkey as far back as the pre-Ottoman Empire. They were created primarily as sanctuaries for birds to protect them from rain, wind and the harsh sun. The design of these birdhouses often paralleled the popular architecture styles of the time, making dating them easier. Birdhouses can be viewed as one of the simplest expression of compassion for wild animals, a testament to our own capabilities as a people.

Birdhouses in Europe

Birdhouses built in Europe were often used to collect eggs or trap birds for food. Rather than a shelter, European birdhouses were built more like natural bird nests, attracting birds to lay their eggs there and making it easier to retrieve them for food. The nests were often made out of clay, sticks, wood or old woven baskets.

Native American Birdhouses

Native Americans, like the people of Turkey, enjoyed and respected the animal life around them. Often made out of wood or hollowed-out gourds, birdhouses fashioned by Native Americans were created as a shelter for the birds and as a nesting ground to help them breed. They also might have helped the Native Americans by acting as a scarecrow. The gourds, hung up on long sticks, often scared away scavengers from their fields.

Birdhouses Today

Like gardening or hiking, birdwatching has become a popular hobby to do in nature. Birdhouses today, like their predecessors, can be made from the simplest items, or be complex works of art, and enjoyed for a long time. Building a birdhouse can be a fun craft to do with children or a relaxing hobby for your spare time.

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About the Author

Errin Reaume started writing in 2005 for publications including college brochures, camera informational websites and vegetarian food blogs. Reaume is pursuing a Master of Arts degree at the University of Florida.