I’ve built a lot of bird houses over the years, following one basic design and using cedar when I have it, and only varying the size a bit. The box is easy to make and installs with a screw on the inside back and one into the bottom of the back. I hinge the front with a bent nail or other metal device, making the house simple to hang as well as clean out in the winter. I have these all around the garden and on posts throughout the pasture. Cavity dwelling birds are for the most part insect eaters. Nice to have around in the summertime!
This is an illustration from my spousal unit’s book The Complete Backyard Nature Activity Book which has a few other designs for houses and feeders as well.
I’ve also built a number of houses for our duck pond and have had wood ducks, hooded mergansers, and the occasional screech owl make use of them. A wooden hinge on the back of the box attaches to a rope or cable around the tree (run inside hose or plastic pipe). I loosen the rope/cable up every few years as the tree grows.
These larger boxes are pre-loaded with wood chips as ducks and owls don’t bring in nesting material other than their own feathers. I also add a piece of hardware cloth to the entry so the little ducklings can climb out easily.
I built a larger, deeper box especially for the flying squirrels that kept trying to live inside the roof vents of my old house. I blocked entry to their caves, then I figured I owed them an alternative. It worked well, both for flying squirrels, Douglas squirrels, and chipmunks. A honeybee swarm also took it over the year I was selling the house. I let my bee-keeping neighbor take it away and when he convinced the bees to move into one of his structures, I got the box back and hung it at our new place.
We’ve had fun knocking first then sticking a camera inside a box to snap a photo. We like to see if it’s being or has been used, and several times we’ve found someone at home. Here are a few photos for your amusement. If you have questions just give me a shout. Meanwhile let’s do what we can to enhance what’s left of the wild areas so these critters can keep on keepin’ on.
Pictured: Hooded merganser, box interior with eggs, wood duck hen and baby, wood duck hen about to bite the camera, tree swallow babies, screech owl and baby.
Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2016 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.