Date: 9/15/20 9:52 am From: Than Boves <tboves...> Subject: Re: Bird Nest Box Options
Thanks for providing this information Jerry. I will add that you can make nest boxes from all sorts of other material as well. We actually use used 1/2 gallon milk cartons for our Prothonotary Warbler nest boxes (and LOTS other species will use them too!). So if you drink milk or soy/almond milk/oj), they are essentially free (you may want to paint them however...). They also do degrade faster, but you can make them really quickly and they work well. Here is an article that describes how to make them.
My post provided some insight into the housing shortage for cavity nesting birds along with construction measurements, hole sizes and placement locations. Some expressed a desire to put up nest boxes but could not afford them. In addition to leaving your snags and hollow trees, consider:
One 6 foot by 5 ˝ inch by 5/8 inch cedar or treated fencing will make a bluebird, chickadee or titmouse box. This costs about $3.15. The tools needed are a saw, 1 ˝ inch drill bit to drill the hole and some nails or screws and a screwdriver or hammer.
Some materials can be obtained at home and building construction sites with scrap wood they will have to haul off. Sawmills have pieces of lumber that they may have to deal with and may give you material. Check the material throw a way garbage lumber stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. They like to sell their lumber but they have scraps some may give you.
It take trees about 100 years to get big and old enough for cavities. It takes fungi about 30 years to rot the center of a tree and then it may take more years for the hollow center to be accessed by broken limbs or woodpeckers. When you cut down a snag or hollow tree you have destroyed what it too natural forces over 100 years to make. Recycling centers have woody debris from trees. If you see a hollow cut section you can acquire this for a couple of options. You can put boards on each hollow end and in one end cut the size hole needed for the species you are managing for, or you can close up both ends and drill or cut the appropriate size access hole through the outer trunk shell. I often see perfect hollow pieces of wood in people’s wood piles that would be good for nest boxes.
If you have a hollow tree you can drill or cut a hole to access the inner hollow. Large access holes are needed for owls and wood ducks but if you have a smaller species in mind, put a wooden plate over the cutout with the plate having the size hole needed.
You can also provide nesting inserts like we do for the Red-cockaded woodpecker recovery. Take a wooden block the right size and softer wood like cedar is easier to work, hollow out the center, place a cap to cover the hole drilled from the top and drill a hole from the side to connect with the hollow center. Cut a section out of the tree trunk, insert the nest box and fill around the edges with wood putty. Examples of woodpecker insert construction can be found on-line.
Plant Birdhouse gourds in your garden or flower beds. There are do it yourself options and with a little time and effort you can have nest boxes out for winter roosting and Spring nesting season. Don’t just limit your efforts to birds but provide for mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. Squirrels that nests in cavities will have three out of four young survive but if they nest in leaf nests only one out of four will survive. Bats, tree frogs, broad-headed skinks and others also need help.