What could be more exciting than enjoying the spectacle of birds roaming free in the garden, promoting their reproduction or helping them through the winter? The birdhouse is an accessory made available to birds: it helps them without making them dependent on human help. Here are our tips for making one that will be useful and therefore used.
The first question to ask yourself: a nesting box for which bird?
The nesting box is a garden accessory that meets a real need of cave birds. Indeed, they build their nest in a cavity. It can be a hollow tree, an opening in a wall or under a roof. The problem is that these places are becoming increasingly rare. The practice of regrouping has caused the disappearance of hundreds of linear hedges and traditional orchards are fewer. Consequence: the trees with cavities disappear. The old buildings also offering hollows favorable to the construction of nests are renovated, which increases the difficulties to nest and therefore to reproduce.
It is not possible to build a nesting box that appeals to all species of birds. Each of the species has its own lifestyles and specific needs, particularly according to its size. So you must ask yourself which species or species you want favor. Sadly, you cannot hope to save endangered species just by the presence of a nest box. Athena owls, hoopoes and anteaters are also suffering from a scarcity of food. However, they only nest in places where they can also feed. You should therefore focus on the birds that already frequent your garden or that you have at least seen in the vicinity. These are generally the tits (blue, black and great), nuthatches, white-fronted redstarts, sparrows.
If you build a birdhouse that is too “generic”, the species present may enter into conflict. It is therefore preferable to make several nesting boxes with openings of different sizes.
Children can be involved in the nesting box manufacturing activity, particularly in the research phase on the bird species present. However, depending on the age, it can be tricky to get them to make the nesting box, as the birds are demanding. This is what we are explaining to you now.
Making a success of your nest box: the basics
While it is quite easy to make a nesting box, certain conditions must be observed. It is not because birds lack cavities that they will choose one that does not suit them: the survival of their young depends on it! The conditions of comfort and safety must therefore be met.
The nest box must be close to natural conditions. The material used is of course wood, but it must be raw, untreated and unplaned. They are in no way a source of injury as it can be to human skin. On the contrary, it is necessary for the birds to cling to the roughness from the wall. The exterior is not treated further. The patina of time and bad weather will do just fine. If you are a perfectionist, you can optionally cover the birdhouse with bark.
The species recommended for making a nesting box are larch, pine, red cedar and oak because they are resistant to humidity. Even if marine plywood is a little better resistant than other plywood to water splashes, it still requires treatment: it is therefore not recommended. A thickness of 2 cm for the boards is ideal.
The purpose of the birdhouse is to protect the bird family from severe weather. The assembly of the elements between them must therefore be tight and contiguous to not let any rain and wind pass. Galvanized screws will be more effective than nails.
Finally, since it is up to you to take care of the housework in the fall, once the family has left the nest, you will therefore be careful to place a removable roof.
The ideal dimensions of the nest box for some species
We show you below the ideal dimensions for the species that frequent our French gardens the most. Take the time to do some research beforehand to make sure that the species you want to help are present in this part of the country: sometimes there can be some differences depending on whether the location is north or south. Of the loire.
For the black tit and the blue tit, the flight hole is between 25 and 27 mm in diameter. But for the first a bottom of 10 cm by 10 is enough, while the second needs 13 cm of side. The first needs an interior height of 17 cm and the second of 23 cm.
The great tit needs a 32mm diameter flight hole, 14cm side inner bottom and 23cm inner height.
The White-fronted Redstart needs an oval opening measuring 32mm wide and 46mm high. The bottom and interior height are the same as for the great tit.
The Eurasian Nuthatch and Starling being larger birds, the size of the entrance increases to 5 cm, the interior bottom to 18 cm on the side and the interior height to 28 cm.
Some species will be interested in semi-open nest boxes because they need a fairly large flight hole. This is the case with gray wagtails, stream wagtails, cute wren, gray flycatcher, black redstart and robin.
The location of the nesting boxes
Nest boxes are usually placed at a height of 3 m.
The ideal is not to place them in full sun, nor completely in the shade. The launch hole must be protected from prevailing winds. Installation in a tree is ideal as the leaves and branches will provide additional protection. However, care must be taken not to injure the tree by the fixing, but also to ensure that the nest box is high enough to be out of reach of cats, able to climb along the trunk to a certain height.
A nest box may not be occupied in the first year. But if you observe that the birds are no longer interested in the second and third year, something is wrong and the nesting box does not meet the conditions of comfort and safety demanded by the birds. In this case, inspect it with a keen eye to make any necessary modifications, insulation or location.