Winter is a good time to start thinking about nest boxes. Many species of wild birds begin looking for nesting sites in late winter or early spring, including bluebirds, chickadees, titmice and nuthatches.Just as supplying food and open water attracts many different species of birds to your backyard, the addition of a single nest box will attract other species as well. To those of us in the bird feeding hobby, a nesting bird is a feeding bird. With the loss of many natural cavities, such as wooden fence posts and old trees, it is important to supply artificial nest sites.
The first thing to consider when constructing a nest box is what species you wish to attract. Next, find the ideal dimensions and hole size for that species to optimize your chances of getting a tenant. Choose a suitable material from which to construct the box. Finally, be sure to design the box with adequate drainage, ventilation and protection from the elements and predators.
The dimension of the entrance hole is probably the most critical element. If it’s too small, your chosen species may not be able to enter the box. Too large and it could allow bigger, more aggressive species, such as starlings and sparrows to use the box.
Floor dimension, depth of cavity and height of entrance hole above the floor are important due to specific nest requirements determined by each bird species. While any wood will do, a natural decay-resistant wood such as cedar, redwood, cypress or good exterior grade plywood, is best. Never use pressure treated lumber to build nest boxes or bird feeders. The chemicals will leech into the food and nests, killing the birds.
Boxes constructed of thin wood, less than 3/4”, allow for more heat build-up that can be detrimental to young chicks. If you paint your box, use soft, neutral colors and only paint the outside. Avoid dark colors because they may absorb too much heat from the sun.
There are many resources available in libraries or online to assist anyone who wishes to complete a nest box in their workshop.
Enjoy your birds!
Wild Bird Depot is located on Rt 11 in Gilford, NH. Steve is a contributing author in major publications, a guest lecturer at major conventions in Atlanta and St. Louis as well as the host of WEZS 1350AM radio show “Bird Calls” with Lakes Region Newsday @ 8:30AM. Wild Bird Depot has donated over $5,000 to local rehabilitators and local nature centers since 1996. Be sure to check out our blog “Bird Droppings” via our website www.wildbirddepot.com. Like us on Facebook for great contests and prizes.