Home Sweet Home:
Build or install a nest box this spring!
Here’s a great spring activity to try at home or at school. Nest boxes provide wonderful habitat for many kinds of birds, and having avian families in your yard gives hours of enjoyment watching these feathered miracles.
In nature, holes in trees are prime real estate for wildlife. In fact, many kinds of birds need these holes, called ‘cavities’ for building their nests and raising their young. Especially in urban areas, dead or dying trees are usually removed, leaving a scarcity of nesting sites for our bird neighbours.
Luckily, nest boxes are quite easy to build with a few simple tools and some understanding of what birds need for protection from weather and predators. While there are many specialized types of nest boxes for specific species, a good basic design is suitable for many small birds such as chickadees, wrens, and nuthatches.
Here are some basic guidelines:
- nest boxes need enough space for a nest full of baby birds and access for parents
- the correct size of the entrance hole is important; it should be near the top of the box;
- nest boxes must be cleaned out every year, so make sure you can open up the box, and reseal it safely
- don’t put a perch on your box; birds don’t need it, but perches can help predators reach the young birds
- don’t paint or put a finish on your box; birds prefer untreated, natural wood
- provide ventilation and drainage; a few small holes near the top provide ventilation, and small holes in the floor allow moisture to drain
- use a predator guard to protect the entrance hole from being chewed by squirrels or other mammals who would destroy the eggs or young birds; a metal plate or piece of thick wood are effective (see examples)
- install securely at least 6 feet from the ground; avoid nailing into trees – a pole or post are ideal
Here are some plans for a simple nest box you can build from a 4 ft. piece of 1 X 6″ lumber
Chickadee Nest Box Plans from Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Note: Entrance hold diameter is 1″ for House Wrens; Use 1 1/8″ diameter for Black-Capped Chickadees; 1 1/4″ for White-Breasted and Red-Breasted Nuthatches