Date: 9/15/20 11:16 am
From: Jerry Davis <jwdavis...>
Subject: Re: Bird Nest Box Options
Thanks Than. In the 1950s some milk companies in Texas made their milk
cartons with the design to cut a hole and make into bluebird boxes. That
process ended after a few years and I am not sure if bluebirds used them.
One issue of the National Wildlife Federation magazine in the 1960 had
numerous boxes made from milk cartons, Oatmeal boxes, coffee cans etc. In
later years paper companies provided treated cardboard boxes and sold them
for about $2 each. I tried some of these on the Sam Houston National Forest
in Texas with mixed results. The wasps really like them and they need nest
structures also. Very few bluebirds used them but when the slick cardboard
began to weather which seemed to make the holes more accessible due to rough
clinging surfaces, the chickadees and titmice did use them. Although perches
should never be put on nest boxes because it makes better access by house
sparrows, gluing a piece of bark below the hole on the slick surface may
help bird access.


-----Original Message-----
From: Than Boves
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 11:51 AM
To: <ARBIRD-L...>
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.


Than J. Boves, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR
Office Phone: 870-972-3320;data=02%7C01%<7Carbird-l...>%7C989efbf740074431747e08d859a36c73%7C79c742c4e61c4fa5be89a3cb566a80d1%7C0%7C0%7C637357905717592672&amp;sdata=XUmB6YQjlicXG4AkmMG7cxorJbasu1mBRDoPP44obwQ%3D&amp;reserved=0<;data=02%7C01%<7Carbird-l...>%7C989efbf740074431747e08d859a36c73%7C79c742c4e61c4fa5be89a3cb566a80d1%7C0%7C0%7C637357905717592672&amp;sdata=XUmB6YQjlicXG4AkmMG7cxorJbasu1mBRDoPP44obwQ%3D&amp;reserved=0>
From: The Birds of Arkansas Discussion List <ARBIRD-L...> on
behalf of Jerry Davis <jwdavis...>
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 11:39 AM
To: <ARBIRD-L...>
Subject: Bird Nest Box Options

Bird Nest Box Options

Jerry Wayne Davis

September 11, 2020

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.
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