Written by Northwest Nature Shop Expert Birder Terence Philippe
Spring is just around the corner, and so it’s a good time to prepare your yard for the arrival of our spring and summer birds. Follow this blog where each week we’ll write about topics and provide information to help you learn about and enjoy the world of birds. This week we’ll begin a series about bird nests and nest boxes.
Everyone is familiar with the the common site of a bird nest cradled in a tree or shrub, but did you know that about 15% of birds use a cavity, typically found in a tree, for their nest site? In our area common cavity nesters are Flickers and other Woodpeckers, Bluebirds, Kestrels, Screech Owls, Tree Swallows, and House and Bewick’s Wrens. You can, by placing a wood or recycled plastic nest box, simulate the natural cavities that birds would typically use. Placing these nest boxes in and around your yard will not only provide the birds with necessary nest sites, but will also provide you and your family an educational and fun activity as you observe and learn about bird’s life-cycle.
Nest building birds in our area include Robins, Orioles, many species of Hawks, and many others. On walks see how many different types of nests you can spot and try to identify the bird that constructed it. Is it a basket shaped nest of a Robin or a hanging sock-like nest of an Oriole? Check out books at the library or at our shop to help identify types of nests. Like placing a nest box, you can also aid nest builders by placing building materials for nests around your yard. This can include small twigs and sticks, string, lint, and even pet hair. There are also pre-made nesting material products that can be conveniently hung in your yard.
Nest boxes, typically made from unpainted wood or recycled plastic are chosen to fit the individual species you are trying to attract or that are common in your area. They range from the tiny wren house to the large Wood Duck or Barn Owl house. The list below describes some of the most common and popular nest boxes for birds in our area:
Bluebirds: 5”x5”x12” – 1.5” entrance diameter 6” above floor – 4’ to 6’ above ground level
Flicker: 6”x6” (or larger) x 14” to 20” – 2+” entrance diameter 10” above floor – 10’ to 20’ high
Screech Owl: dimensions similar to Flicker – 3” to 4” entrance diameter 10” above floor – 10” to 20’ above ground
House Wren: dimensions similar to Bluebird (can be slightly smaller i.e., 4”x4”x9” – 1” to 1.5” – entrance diameter 4” to 6” above floor – 6’ + above ground
Come by the store for a complete list of bird house dimensions and information.
For those of you who already have nest boxes in place, late winter is a good time to check and clean your existing boxes. Clean out all the nest material found inside the box and brush or wipe down. Occasionally it is recommended to clean and disinfect the boxes with a week bleach solution (a capful of bleach in a bucket of warm water is sufficient). Tip: you can use the same bleach solution recipe to also occasionally disinfect your feeders. Be sure to rinse well. Once cleaned, you can choose to place a handful of clean wood shavings (not saw-dust) in the box.
That’s it for this week! We hope you find this blog and information useful and informative. Check back next week and we’ll discuss nest box placement and other important considerations to be aware of before hanging your boxes.
We invite you to explore our wonderful collection of cedar birdhouses.