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May 31, 2016
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Some winter projects are for the birds!

The entrance on this box is the right size for this adult tree swallow, just large enough to allow the adults to perch and alight from the hole as they make 10 to 20 feeding trips per hour for their young. This entrance is easily removed in case of gnawing damage or targeting a different species.

February 19, 2014

As I look out the window, it is snowing; there is already 12 inches on the ground from a previous storm, and now another foot or so is forecast to fall. Most of us have already stocked up on groceries. Schools have closed for the day and the kids are likely looking for something to do. Will mid-February be the onset of cabin fever for the region?

Fortunately, getting ready for spring involves some activities that can be started now, especially if you enjoy observing wildlife. Building birdhouses is one way to get ready for spring, and even young children can get involved, with proper supervision. Basic woodworking tools are suitable for the job. Perhaps the first time you had a screwdriver in your hand was with your mom or dad building a birdhouse.

The purpose of a birdhouse is to provide a place for birds to nest during the spring and summer. Birds that utilize a birdhouse are typically cavity nesters that would otherwise construct or use a cavity in a dead tree, or perhaps a hole or void in a building. Some birds get in trouble. (See the April 7, 2011 River Talk column for one such wood duck:

Building a birdhouse is fairly simple, and there are many plans available. The size of the birdhouse and the diameter of the entrance hole will vary according to the species you wish to attract. The hole size is important if you wish to target particular species; for example, if you make a bluebird box with too large a hole, undesired species such as starlings may utilize the box instead of bluebirds. Constructing or using just the right size hole is a good defense against predators predating young or eggs. A good guide for box and opening sizes can be found at or try this site for a simple design that uses a single plank of wood: