Date: 1/5/21 8:23 am From: Jerry Davis <jwdavis...> Subject: Time To Think Bird Nesting
Time To Think Bird Nesting Jerry Wayne Davis January 5, 2021
In North America 85 species of birds, 49 species of mammals and hundreds of species of reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates use cavities in snags, hollow trees and even saguaro cactus. With the harvest of old growth forests, younger forest rotations, and forest sanitation, and millions of acres of forests converted to other uses, there is a housing shortage for cavity nesting species. Your nest boxes can help with this shortage.
It is not too early to assess your nesting and nest box situation. Boxes need to have the correct hole size and placement and be cleaned out and maintained. Some cavity nesters are already checking out boxes for Spring and using them for winter roosting. Purple Martins scouts will be arriving in February and the boxes need to be ready. Purple Martins have a greater occupancy with gourds than the close compartments of traditional Martin Houses. There are designs online for better box construction.
Some of you may have received nest boxes for Christmas or given them to others that enjoy birds. Wren boxes are often sold with the wrong hole size for the Carolina Wren. The hole should be 1 ½ inch in diameter. If it is one inch for the House wren, getting a Carolina Wren to use the box would be like expecting a Saint Bernard to get through the cat door. Ten years ago I contacted Cedar Works that sold wren boxes to Walmart and they changed their design with a bigger hole. Now Walmart and others have different supplier and sell boxes with the wrong hole size. Also make sure the nest boxes do not have perches as shown in cartoons. Perches increase nest predation by House Sparrows and European Starlings. Your nest boxes should have predator guards and if they do not they are a cat and rat snake feeder and you are putting the birds and young at risk and setting them up for nest failure. Two thirds of bird nests are destroyed by nest predators whether in a nest box or placed in other locations. Get your yard and nest boxes ready to help the birds have a successful nesting season.