Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Holiday Season Nest Box Projects

A Bluebird House Kit from BestNest.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, young birders will have some extra time off, so it’s a great time to share a project with them, like building a birdhouse. It’s a great project to share with a child or young person during a couple hours that will provide a memorable time together. If you’re not inclined to small-scale construction, you can skip the building and buy a nest box you can install outdoors together – in your yard, in the youth’s yard, or another appropriate location. Have some fun together and make a lasting memory that will also benefit cavity nesting birds.

On the other hand, if you are a young person, consider sharing a bird house construction project or installation with a sibling, parent, or a friend. who might enjoy the process and appreciate the friendly attention. It’s a nice time of the year to reach out, to enjoy the opportunity to create heartfelt shared times – and building and installing a bird house is a great activity – indoors and outside. (Birdhouse and nest box are interchangeable words for the same item.)

Now you may initially be thinking about a little ole wren or chickadee birdhouse to begin with, and that’s a great idea; but imagine how much more exciting it would be to build a Big bird house, a nest box for a Wood Duck, American Kestrel, or a small owl like a screech owl – actually, all of these larger cavity nesting birds utilize the same size of a nest box. So there are many possibilities when considering what birdhouse or nest box to build.

Learn About Birdhouses – Although buying a birdhouse or building a birdhouse kit is relatively easy, there are a number of aspects of birdhouse birding that are important to know up front, so you can plan in advance. Then too, unless you are already an active birdhouse landlord, when you understand the ins and outs of birdhouses, you can confidently teach others about cavity nesting birds and their need for more cavity nesting sites. (Cavities are created naturally in trees and large branches, and woodpeckers excavate cavity nests, but both of these natural options are in short supply.)

There are a number of things to be aware of, including the diversity of different cavity nesting species, each with their own habitat requirements and cavity location preferences. Then too, you need to protect any birdhouse from predators, and discouraging non-native competitors. But don’t get overwhelmed, it’s all pretty easy to address. For a simple overview, you can always rely on NestWatch, which you can refer to at

What Species Would You Like to Attract? – Whether you’re hoping to attract wrens, bluebirds, screech owls, or Wood Ducks, some species have different birdhouse size requirements, as well as habitat needs that may relate to where and how to install your nest box. All that information is also available at NestWatch, most specifically at

Build Your Own – If you want to start from scratch, can get simple plans to build a birdhouse for any North American cavity nesting bird species. See and click on the bird (head) in the line of bird faces you would like to attract to your birdhouse; then click on the white banner under the bird photo that appears. On that webpage you will be asked to provide your email address where NestWatch will email the nest box building directions to you.

Try a Kit In case you don’t wish to saw wood into appropriate panels, you can buy a do-it-yourself birdhouse kit from BestNest that provides all the pre-cut cedar panels and nails you need – looks like all you need is a hammer to build it – although using screws is usually recommended. If you opt to buy a kit, you can make it a team effort, or each of you can build your own birdhouse. Just follow the step-by-step instructions provided with the kit. To buy a bluebird nest box kit, check out BestNest’s songbird essentials kit at

Group Projects – In addition to personal or family projects you may have in mind, some readers might be interested in suggesting a do-it-yourself birdhouse project for a school class, scout pack, or church group, although this may be more applicable after covid transmission concerns are remedied.

A Personal Project Then too, you can build a new nest box for your yard, property, or a special location, on your own, anytime, to the benefit of cavity nesting birds – not to mention you get to enjoy the activities of the birds that nest there. It’s all part of the backyard birding opportunities we can enjoy. On your own, one-on-one, or in a group, appreciate that building and installing a new birdhouse can be a part of your holiday season – or you can share this activity any time.

Your birding interests are fun to share, and birdhouse birding provides a lasting testament to special times shared that benefit cavity nesting birds. But you will benefit too, with the opportunity to observe and study the activities of birds that utilize birdhouses, small and large.

Share your backyard birding experiences and photos at