1
WindStar Wildlife Institute
Providing nesting areas for wildlife is a popular
and growing hobby for many Americans. Building
houses according to the proper specifications,
placing them in the right habitat, and maintaining
them can benefit both bird and mammal
populations. However, if they are not monitored for
detrimental species such as the house sparrow,
they may actually do more harm than good.
Building Nesting
Boxes & Platforms
I
t is important to realize that not
all birds and mammals nest in
cavities. Many birds, like the
American robin or meadowlark,
either build cup-shaped nests in
trees or nest on the ground. The
nest box plans that are found in
this publication are specific to
wildlife that utilize a cavity, either
within a dead or dying tree or a
man-made structure such as a
nest box.
Cavity nesting birds will accept
any kind of nest box that they can
enter. Before deciding on what kind
of nest box to build, there are
considerations which should be
taken - the size of the entrance
hole, interior dimensions, proper
ventilation, and the capability to
open the nest box for monitoring
and cleaning. Do not construct a
box for "birds" in general as most
species require different sized
houses and entrance holes. The
following guidance and construction
plans will provide specific plans for
most common species.
For all practical purposes, wood
is the only appropriate building
material to use. Wood is a natural
material with good insulating
properties. Plastic and metal often
overheat. Green "pressure-treated"
lumber is impregnated with copper
arsenate as a preservative. If the
chemical is not applied perfectly,
the wood is toxic to birds and
humans. Exterior grade plywood
contains dangerously high levels of
formaldehyde and therefore is also
not the best choice. The best
woods to use are rough cut cedar
or redwood. They naturally resist
deterioration when exposed to sun
and rain and the weathered look is
inconspicuous and attractive.
Never paint or stain the inside of
a nest box. If you want to paint the
exterior, close up the box and paint
only what you can see. Use an
exterior grade latex paint and give
the top a second coat. Choose a
light shade which reflects most
heat or a natural color such as
green, tan, or gray. A heavy grade
of linseed oil stain works well also.
Houses that blend in with their

Building Nest Boxes:

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