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Bird boxes

Bird boxes can provide endless amounts of entertainment as birds go about their busy lives finding food and bringing it back to feed their young.

Before proceeding any further, it is necessary to make one overall important point about placing a bird box in your garden. It is not a one-time deal in which you put up the box and forget about it. It requires regular monitoring to ensure that the right birds are using the box. You may need to remove birds such as starlings and house sparrows because they displace native birds and you may have to evict squirrels several times. Squirrels will fill the box from floor to ceiling with leaves in under a day. With squirrels, you should evict as soon as you see nest building occurring, especially in early spring when females give birth to kittens. Be careful that the squirrel kittens are not inside the box when removing nest material. Pile the leaves at the base of the tree so that the squirrel can build its drey somewhere else. If you do not have the time to ensure that native birds use the box or to clean it at the end of the season, it is better not to put one up. Still interested in having a bird box in your garden? Then read on.....

 

  Eastern Screech Owl  
  Eastern Screech Owls are on the smaller side and will take advantage of a good sized box. Sometimes it is simply a place to hang out in during the day and sometimes they are used for raising young. These birds have lost a lot of habitat and have moved into the suburbs where suitable sites are available.  

 

The populations of many birds are limited by breeding sites and not by food supply. Bird boxes can therefore be enormously helpful in maintaining populations and you might be quite surprised at what type of birds you can attract when suitable accommodation is provided. Now most people imagine that a bird shelter is simply a little wooden box with a small hole in it that you can put anywhere. Some birds do like enclosed spaces with a small hole; other birds like boxes with a completely open side; and several birds like platforms or a site on the ground to make their nest. The birds often have particular requirements about the position of the box in terms of the height about ground and the amount of sun exposure that it receives. Find out what birds are in your area and decide which one you are going to provide a shelter for.

  Robin's nest  
  A robin will not nest in an enclosed box. Instead, you can make a box for them that has a 1 inch lip instead of a front piece. Otherwise they are perfectly happy with an eavestrough.  

 

 

You can use the following table as a guide (See here for dimensions in inches and feet)

Bird

Hole diameter

(cm)

Hole height

(cm)

Floor size

(cm)

Wall height

(cm)

Height above ground

(m)

American Kestrel 7.5 30 25 x 25 40 6-9
           
American robin open open 15 x 20 20 2 - 5
Barn owl 15 10 25 x 45 38 - 45 4 - 6
Barn Swallow open open 15 x 15 15 2.5 - 4
Bluebirds 4 15 13 x 13 20 2 - 3
Carolina Wren 4 10 - 15 10 x 10 15 - 20 2 - 3

Chickadee

3 15 9 x 9 20 2 - 5
Downy woodpecker 3 15 9 x 9 20 2 - 3.5
Hairy woodpecker 4 22 - 30 15 x 15 30-35 3 - 5
House wren 3 10 - 15 10 x 10 15-20 2 - 3
Red Breasted Nuthatch 3 15 9 x 9 20 2 - 5
Northern flicker 6 35 14 x 14 35 2-5
Red headed woodpecker 5 25 15 x 15 30 3 - 6
Screech owl 7.5 30 20 x 20 40 4 - 9
Song Sparrow open open 15 x 15 15 0.5 - 1
Tree swallow 4 15 13 x 13 20 2 - 3
Tufted titmouse 3 15 - 20 10 x 10 20 x 25 2 - 5
White breasted Nuthatch 3 15 9 x 9 20 4 - 6
Wood duck 10 30 - 40 25 x 45 25 - 60 3 -6
           

You can buy various size boxes at nature and birding stores. You can also make your own bird box. It is not too difficult.