Backyard Chirper

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Tips For Building a Nesting Box

With breeding season currently in full swing, birds are flocking to ideal nesting sites to raise their young.

Birds are very careful about where they set up their nest because they want a spot that will be most likely to yield a healthy brood with little interference from predators and humans.

Getting birds to nest in your backyard is a wonderful thing and, if you have one of those new bird cams, you can capture the grace of nature firsthand. Ready-made nesting boxes are sold at most birding stores, but if you’re interested in making your own, you can get a kit or simply make it from scratch.

Whatever method you choose, here are some tips for building and setting up a nesting box.

Don’t make the nesting box out of metal

Metal nesting boxes tend to get very hot during the summer and when exposed to direct sunlight. This extreme temperature can be fatal to nestlings and eggs within the box. Wood is the best material because it’s more natural and doesn’t trap heat.

Nesting boxes are not “one size fits all”

The type of birds that will be attracted to your nesting box depends on the size of the box and most importantly, the size of the hole. The hole sizes for the tit species, as suggested by the National Nest Box Week, are 25mm or larger for Blue, Coal and Marsh Tit; 28mm or larger for Great Tit and Tree Sparrow; 32mm for House Sparrow.

Make sure the nesting box is properly ventilated

Allowing air to flow freely in and out of the nesting box is essential. Along these lines, the box needs to be able to drain quickly if water gets into it. Make sure it’s ventilated by drilling holes in the top and bottom.

Keep it away from predators

As previously stated, birds are less inclined to nest in an area frequented by predators. Keep your cat indoors before and during the time birds will be nesting in your yard. If a bird sees a cat around the area they’re starting to build their nest in, they’ll simply abandon that spot.

Place baffles to deter squirrels

Squirrels are pests not just at bird feeders, but also at nesting boxes. They will damage nests and if possible, try to eat the bird eggs. Attach a baffle at the bottom and top of the box, so the squirrels can’t reach it.

Regular cleaning is important

Similar to how regularly cleaning bird feeders is important, cleaning nesting boxes after each use will reduce the amount of fungus and will allow it to be used again during the same season. Since it’s so important to clean nesting boxes, make sure your box opens up from the top or sides.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.