Bird boxes placed on tree tops are a pleasing site in any landscape. They not only add beauty to the surroundings, but also serve as a safe haven for numerous birds. With the number of trees dwindling day-by-day, these prove useful in sheltering and preserving many birds.
These are man-made objects created to provide shelter for birds. In some places, they are also known as nest boxes. These are mostly made of wood, but even synthetic ones prepared from a material called 'woodcrete' are used nowadays. Although cuboid is the most common shape, sloping ones are also used in some places.
Design and Construction
The purpose of building a bird box is to provide the birds with security and a place for breeding. Although shape, color, etc. does not matter to the birds, the size factor has to be carefully taken into consideration. It is important to get an idea of the types of birds in your area that might come and stay in your bird boxes. Construction should be according to the birds' needs; the birds should be able to enter the box comfortably and move around with ease. Exterior grade plywood is the best material for construction. The wood used for building should be at least 20 mm thick. Designs should be simple in their appearance. Generally, there are two designs, the one with a circular hole as its opening and the other which partly opens at the front. Apart from the entrance hole, the sides and bottom of the box need to have holes for ventilation and drainage respectively.
Roofing felt, if attached to the box, increases its life. Use galvanized nails instead of adhesives, because unlike adhesives, nails don't block the drainage paths. Keep an opening at the top of the box to facilitate easy cleaning. Never add a perch as predators may use it to harm the nestling.
Some companies manufacture colorful and decorative bird boxes. These look great in gardens. It is not necessary to paint them. Although birds prefer unpainted boxes, purple martin boxes are an exception to this rule. These need to be painted white from the outside in order to reduce heat.
Place your box in a position where it remains least affected by rainfall or winds. The boxes should have an appropriate distance between them, as some birds try to create their own territory. Attach them to trees with the help of a wire or nails. If you choose to wire a box, try to cushion it so that the tree bark is not affected. Place the box where it remains unaffected from human interference and predators like cats. Some experts recommend to place them on metal poles to protect the nestling from raccoon and cats. Try to pick a cool place so that direct sunlight doesn't affect it. Speaking about directions, the boxes should face either north or east to avoid heat.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Cleaning should be done from October to January. The old nesting material which gets accumulated after every breeding season needs to be cleaned. Scrape off the droppings from the earlier season. Scalding with boiling water is an excellent way to remove parasites from the box. 'Sadonil' should be used as a water repellent.
Surveillance cameras can be installed to view the birds in the boxes. People interested in wildlife can use these cameras to study birds and their activities. There are wireless cameras which can be connected to your television or personal computer.
You can learn a lot from nature, and building bird boxes is a nice way to contribute something back. Building one will definitely turn into a fun-filled, fulfilling, and enriching activity.