Spring is the time when birds begin to look for good nesting sites. They may try many possibilities and even actually start the makings of a nest before they actually make their final choice. You can help them and attract many of these birds to your garden by providing them with a good choice of homes. In the last blog we looked at one design to attract a specific group. Now I'm going to proffer this design to attract some others. Over the decades the natural nesting sites, cracks in old buildings and garden walls and shakes in ancient trees, have become rarer. Our aim is also to create something which would blend into the background to attract these often shy birds.
As a rule, in Europe these boxes are expected to attract mainly robins, wrens and wagtails. In the USA there are over 50 species who prefer to use an open-fronted cavity nest. However, wherever you live you should research the individual habits and volumes needed for any specific bird. Martins, for example, prefer to nest in colonies so you should provide either 5 or 6 boxes placed closely together or one large box with separate nesting chambers. Blackbirds may also use this type of box but would need it to be enlarged by around 50%.
The materials and construction are the same as for our previous box but I will repeat them here in case you have not read the post. If you have, then please continue down the page until you come to the section on the positioning of the front planks.
The box is based on the same design as my Apple House but is formed around a larger 140 mm - 5½" pallet block. You will need 1 or 2, 100 mm - 4" wide pallet wood planks and the wood strips from a fruit crate or orange box. We decorated it with water-based acrylic varnish and tinted it with earth and mineral pigments. For information on mixing these: http://thegreenlever.blogspot.fr/2012/02/using-natural-earth-and-mineral.html
For the four sides, mark out the first length, which corresponds to the length of the block plus plank thickness. Cut four sides to this length.
Pre-nail the planks, if the wood splits at this juncture, then drill a pilot hole at a slightly smaller diameter than the nail shank and then nail.
Position and nail front.
Cut base to make a platform suitable for nest building, 100 mm x 100 mm - 4" x 4" and mitred at 45°.
Mark the position of the shelf from the inside.
Drill pilot hole and screw the shelf in position.
Trim the edges.
You now have something which looks like this.
Select wood for back of box and trace round the box as a guide for drilling pilot holes for nailing the back and screwing in the shelf.
Nail back wall and screw shelf into place.
Drill pilot holes for wall mounting box at bottom...
Drill a drainage hole. This is very important with an open-fronted design.
Cut fruit crate wood to length to make shingles. Due to the open aspect, these should project well over the front of the box to protect it from rain, sun and to give more privacy.
To finish, we use earth and mineral paints and acrylic water-based varnish...
...with a design which mimicked the golden hearted ivy growing on the wall where we were going to site it.
We made another to fit snugly under the eaves of the pallet wood hen house.
Now, if you'd like to, sit back and enjoy he film.
The previous post has another nesting box - a design for blue tits, chickadees and pied fly catchers
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All the best, Andy
© Andy Colley 2014
All the best, Andy
© Andy Colley 2014