I used to be under the misapprehension that birds always nest in the branches of trees. How wrong I was! Since becoming interested in backyard birdwatching, I've learned that a great many bird
species, including woodpeckers (like the red-bellied woodpecker pictured here) and wrens, nest in the cavities of dead or dying trees. Problem is: most people cut those trees down to make their yards look nice and tidy. What's a bird to do?
If you have a dead tree in your yard, consider leaving it standing
. If not, but you still want to encourage wildlife
, how about making a DIY nesting box? It's pretty easy even for the beginner woodworker
because precision is not necessary. In fact, birds prefer
the rustic look!
Now is the best time of year for this project. Your backyard birds will have plenty of time over the coming months to get used to the new box, which will make them more likely to use it when spring rolls around. Now, here are a couple of important points to guide you:
First, although construction of the boxes is pretty easy, you need to do a little research. You see, each bird species has extremely specific likes and dislikes when it comes to choosing its own home-sweet-home. Don't
just whack together an any-old-size box and hope for the best. Do
pick a bird species you want to attract, and tailor the box accordingly. AvianWeb
is an excellent resource to help you choose.
Second, take the time to squirrel-proof
your nesting box or you'll find (as I did with my store-bought nesting box) that squirrels will happily "renovate" -- gnawing the entrance hole wide open and moving in permanently. To prevent this, attach a metal plate to the front of the box with a hole cut to match the opening. Here you may have to improvise by cutting a piece of sheet metal to fit or by screwing on a large washer. Click here
to read more about squirrel/predator-proofing methods.