Today many birds and insects lack suitable habitat for nesting spots. Urban sprawl and similar maladies has made it harder for nesting birds to find natural places to lay their eggs. This is where nest boxes can be useful.
Kirk Brown with Nature Ninja has been making nest boxes for birds for nearly 20 years. “I started building them in part because some birds required them due to habitat loss. birds that traditionally nest in cavities require large dead trees which are usually cut down by humans. I think the major reason i did it though was because i enjoy the company of animals and like to see them in my yard. I only built nest boxes for myself up until last year, thats when i started my web page and started to try and actually do something for nature, not just my yard.”
Some nestboxes require a perch for the birds to light on before entering the nest. “Predator guards are essential on any large box for ducks or owl boxes as cats and raccoons can easily get inside and kill the fledglings and parents. For smaller boxes for bluebirds and such hole size is more important. There are many plans online that give the exact hole sizes.
“When building or buying a nest box make sure to check out the requirements for the birds you are targeting,” Kirk suggests. Nest boxes are made to replicate the natural nesting place of the target species. Most nesting boxes have floor and height dimensions that are optimal. The size of the entrance hole also can be important.
Bats also could use a place to take a nap. Bat houses are becoming more popular, especially in places that have mosquitoes. Bats eat insects mostly, the ones in North America anyway. The possibility of rabies scares some people away from sheltering the flying mammals. The benefit of reducing insects like mosquitoes and gnats is well worth the investment of time in building a bat box.
Kirk shared his positive view of keeping bats housed in bat roosts. “They continue to get a bad rap. They are very beneficial as insect control and as any native animal they are vital to the ecosystem. Bats are in serious trouble due to white nose syndrome.”
Mason bees can benefit from a nest box that can easily be put into the yard. Mason bees have a number of beneficial favors that they can contribute to your urban or rural lot. Mason bee nests can easily be built. There are some parameters that are to be adhered to but for the most part it is an easy project.
Mason bees are most popular for their early-season fruit pollination abilities. Mason bees generally do not sting like honey bees or wasps do. Mason bees live and abandoned insect holes, reeds and similar habitats. Mason bees are used to augment pollination with honey bees oftentimes.
Sourcing materials can be one of the more difficult aspects of building nest boxes. They need not be made out of new and fancy materials. Repurposing and salvaging materials is an excellent way to go. Construction sites often offer plywood ends and board scraps that are well-suited for building as nestboxes in general aren’t all that large.
Observing the birds using your new nest boxes in the spring is an exciting way to get a thanks. You’ll enjoy watching them from the first time they inspect the nest until the fledglings have flown away. With a minimal of effort in building and maintaining these nests.
Let’s not forget about ladybug and butterfly boxes. Butterflies and ladybugs need a place to rest and relax without the fear of predation as well. Ladybugs are great natural predators for pests that live in and on your garden vegetables.
Nest boxes can be a beneficial addition to your yard. They are great for helping birds, bats, and insects survive and thrive in a harsh environment. With so many odds stacked against them they can use all the help they can get. Consider building and installing nest boxes to help your local ecology and to enjoy for yourself.
You can find out more about nature ninja and Kirk Brown’s project on Facebook. www.facebook.com/natureninja1