Tips and hints for for the use of bird boxes – The Union Leader


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Updated: November 12, 2022 @ 3:15 pm

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation is providing tips and hints for the use of bird boxes with the goal of increasing environmental health.
Birdhouses are a simple addition to your yard that can provide nesting places for many kinds of birds and weeks of wildlife-watching opportunities. Cavity-nesters, like tree swallows, house wrens, blackcapped chickadees, eastern bluebirds, wood ducks, and American kestrels all use nest boxes.
The type of birds you might attract depends on the size of the box and the nearby habitat; some birds prefer open fields while others prefer forests or wetlands.
If you already have a box or two, fall is a good time for maintenance. The nesting season has ended, so check your boxes to make sure they are clean and in good repair for next year. If you’re thinking about building and installing a new box, now is actually the perfect time to get started.
Make sure that your boxes are installed well before the breeding season begins. Don’t be discouraged if birds don’t begin nesting in them immediately; sometimes it takes time for the birds to discover them.
• In the south, place your nest boxes by February.
• In northern regions, place your nest boxes by mid to late March.
Because different species of birds prefer different kinds of nesting habitat, the vegetation surrounding your box will play a role in determining which species will nest in it. Remember: right box, right place. For example, nest boxes for bluebirds should be placed in open habitat. Refer to the habitat requirements page for specific information at nestwatch.org/learn/all-about-birdhouses/nest-box-placement.
If you are looking to attract a variety of species to your nest boxes and have ample room, you might consider pairing your boxes. This involves placing boxes in pairs on poles 15 to 25 feet apart. Or, you can put two boxes back to back on a single pole. Birds such as tree swallows and bluebirds will nest closely to one another, although they will drive away others of their own species. Pairing boxes has the advantage of allowing more birds of both species to co-exist peacefully within the same habitat.
A word of caution: Golf courses, cultivated fields, gardens, and yards are potentially good habitats for nest boxes, but avoid areas where pesticides and herbicides are used. These are not only harmful to birds, they decrease and sometimes eliminate the insect populations that are the primary food source for many cavity-nesting species.
Whichever method you choose to install your boxes, be sure that they are secure enough to withstand high winds and severe weather. The best way to put up small nest boxes is on free-standing metal poles or PVC pipes. These pipes or poles offer several advantages:
• Nest boxes can be mounted higher than when mounted on a fence post.
• Some predators find poles difficult to climb.
• Poles can be easily equipped with predator guards.
A box put up in the fall or winter will be ready to go as soon as nesting season begins in the spring. Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch at nestwatch.org/learn/all-about-birdhouses/nest-box-placement for expert nest box tips.
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