by Sara Nelson
Q. What does the entrance hole size mean?
A. The size of the entrance hold
what birds will be able to use any nest box. Obviously,
if a hole is too small for a bird to fit, they won't be able
to use it. Birds don't know what kind of box you want
them to use, they just see if the box is in a location
they like and if they fit into the entrance hole. By
making boxes with different size holes, we encourage
the species we want, and limit other undesirable
Q. How should I mount my nest box?
A. The best method for songbirds is to
pole mount the box. A pole can easily be fitted with a
predator guard to prevent raccoons and snakes from
getting in the box. A good method is to use an 8-foot
length of ¾ inch (inside diameter) galvanized pipe.
Sink it two feet into the ground and mount the bottom
of the box at eye level, or about 4-5 feet off the ground.
Boxes can be mounted on a fence post or tree, but this
will leave the box very vulnerable to predators.
Q. Where should I place the nest box?
A. Different species have different
habitat preferences. If you regularly see them around
your home, it is probably a suitable habitat for nesting.
Try to place the opening of any box out of the prevailing
winds. A landing perch within 100 feet gives
fledglings a safe place to aim for the first time they
leave the box. And of course, try to place it somewhere
you can watch it!
Q. Should my nest box have a perch?
A. No. Our native local species do not
need perches to use a box. Perches actually allow the
non-native, more aggressive species easier access to
the box. We want to encourage the nesting of native
species because they are the ones who have been
harmed the most from the loss of habitat.
Q. When should I put the nest box up?
A. It's never to early, and never too
late! During the winter boxes will be used as shelter
from cold and snow. Birds will also spend the winter
looking for good nest sites and will be ready to nest as
soon as spring arrives. If a box is not used during the
spring, it may still be used later in the summer. Many
females will raise multiple broods during the year.
Q. Can I look inside the box while birds are
A. You can if you are careful and
respectful of the birds. Open the box quietly and
carefully. If the female is inside, close it and leave
quickly. An incubating female will more readily
abandon the nest if she is disturbed. It can be fun
(and educational!) to record information about your
box, such as what species use it, how many eggs they
lay, and how many young are raised.
Q. Why isn't anyone using my nest box?
A. Sometimes a box will be used
immediately, other times it will go for years without
being used. Birds will need to accept the box as a
natural part of their habitat before they will use it. Make
sure there aren't any obvious reasons why they aren't
using it, i.e. rain turned it into a swimming pool, or it is
right next to a raccoon den. Sometimes it just takes