A Nest Box Is A Cheep Way To Increase Our Bird Population.

One spring, as a child, I watched a pair of Cardinals raise their young in a bush outside of our dining room window.  I will never forget this interesting event.

Thickets of shrubs and brush piles are potential nesting sites for songbirds.  Herons nest in cypress and pond apple trees near a pond and Terns will hide their eggs among the gravel on a flat roof near the ocean.  Dead trees, if away from the house or cut to a 10-20 foot stump, will decompose slowly and are used by woodpeckers and later by other birds including owls, or wood ducks if near a pond.  My 20-foot Australian pine stumps became powdery and crumbled slowly to the ground. They were a favorite nesting and feeding site for local woodpeckers.

The Screech Owl’s box will attract wood ducks and squirrels also.  These small owls like to live in town where they find insects, mice and lizards to eat.  Place their nest box twelve feet high in your oak tree and they will find it.

Wood ducks will use this box if it is placed near a pond.  It is great fun to watch the newly hatched chicks plop 12 feet to the ground where they join mom as she leads them to water.  She’ll be on the ground calling to them when this occurs.  The pileated woodpecker will occasionally sleep in one of these boxes.

The purple martin house looks like an apartment building on a 16-foot pole. Place next to a lake or in an open field 40 feet from the nearest tree so that squirrels can’t jump to it and eat the eggs. These birds eat a lot of insects and are thrilling to watch as they swoop for their prey. Paint your martin house white so that it stays cool. The martin population has increased over the years only because people have built nest boxes for them. See the article on purple martins for more information.

There may be plenty of food in your yard, but the birds will leave if they can’t nest there.  Many birds cannot reproduce each year for lack of nest sites, so you will be helping to increase their numbers.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has nest box dimensions. Search for “nest box.”

Now for the part that all cat lovers like to hear. Cats that roam free will eat 90 percent of nearby fledgling birds. Because these young birds are slow and often end up on the ground flapping about, they attract too much attention and are just plain irresistible to predators. Cats are an efficient predator from North Africa and will hunt no matter how well fed they are. Indoor cats live for 10 years and outdoor cats for three on average so it is best for the birds and cats if the cats stay indoors.