Victorian architecture is elaborate and elegant, but a Victorian bird house isn't necessarily the best choice for every birder and their backyard birds. Learning more about this style can help every backyard birder choose the right residence to offer their feathered friends.
The Victorian-era architecture was at its height during the reign of Queen Victoria, with different Victorian-inspired styles most popular from 1850-1900. Different styles may also be called Queen Anne, Second Empire, Shingle or Gingerbread designs, and while they all have different historical roots and variations, they share many common features. Typical design elements popular on Victorian homes include:
- Bay or dormer windows
- Columns, either square or round
- Covered porches
- Elaborate trim and scrollwork
- Shingled architecture and decorative accents
- Steep roofs and gables
- Iron railings
- Stained glass
- Multiple stories or levels
- Colorful paint and trim
Since the original Victorian Era, Victorian-style architecture has had several revivals, and many modern homes may be designed in similar styles or with recognizable Victorian elements. Many original Victorian homes and mansions are designated historical landmarks or may figure prominently in architectural tours of historic neighborhoods.
Victorian Bird House Designs
The beauty and elegance of Victorian architecture translate well to smaller structures, and Victorian bird houses share many of the same features as larger homes, though usually without quite as many intimate details. Depending on the overall size of the bird house, a Victorian-inspired design may have just one nesting cavity or larger designs could provide homes for several bird families – an ideal option for colonial birds such as purple martins. To preserve the look of the house and provide a sturdier, safer mount, most Victorian bird houses are pole-mounted.
A Victorian-style bird house can be an attractive option for nearly any home, particularly if it will be positioned in a flowerbed or garden to offer a cottage-like atmosphere. Before choosing a Victorian house design, however, birders should decide whether the elaborate appearance of the house is a good match for their overall garden décor, and they need to be prepared for the extra care these types of bird houses may require.
Buying a Victorian-Style Bird House
Victorian bird houses are often available from specialty retailers and detailed craftsman familiar with the design style. These houses may be one-of-a-kind and can often be customized, even designed to match a famous Victorian home or any Victorian design the birder desires – even matching their own home. Simple bird houses can be accessorized with Victorian-inspired elements and decorations without difficulty, and books of bird house plans often feature several Victorian designs.
Birders without crafting experience or who prefer to purchase ready-made Victorian houses can investigate local retailers, as well as online merchants such as:
The exact styles, colors, and availability of houses may vary, and the cost can range from $20-500 or higher depending on the size, quality, detail and overall design of the house. Before purchasing a Victorian house, birders should investigate return or replacement policies and note shipping costs, as shipping and handling may be higher on a Victorian house in order to ensure it is packaged appropriately for safe transportation.
Victorian House Care
A Victorian bird house may look spectacular in a garden setting, but it won't stay beautiful if it isn't properly cared for. The house needs to be mounted securely, preferably in a protected location to minimize the risk of damage. A shaded or covered location can also minimize the risk of paint fading or thin wood details warping or breaking in harsh weather.
Just like any bird house, the Victorian home should be thoroughly cleaned after each nesting season, but the cleaning may be more delicate and painstaking to protect the detail of the house. It is not recommended to leave Victorian-style houses outdoors in winter, when snow and ice buildup may cause significant damage. Because of their elaborate designs, Victorian houses cannot usually be converted into suitable winter roosting boxes, and instead should be removed, cleaned and safely stored in a dry, pest-free place until the next spring. With proper care, the house should be reusable for many years.
Any cavity-nesting birds may choose a Victorian bird house for their next residence, and these elaborate homes can be beautiful additions to any birder's backyard.
Photo – Victorian Mansion © David Sawyer