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Picture of Natural Pest Control for Your Garden!

Most cavity-nesting birds eat the insects and other critters that wreak havoc in our gardens. We love it when we see a house wren with a wriggling cabbage looper in its beak: lunch for its babies and no more holes in our cabbage! These pest-eating birds, such as swallows, wrens, chickadees, titmice, and bluebirds, should be a welcome addition to your garden. And, since cavity-nesting birds like to nest in the holes of trees and other natural cavities, a nest box that mimics the type of cavity they prefer will probably attract them. Hang a few houses close to/inside your garden and soon you’ll have lots of natural pest control.

Step 1: Overview

Picture of Overview

We’ve built and installed a lot of nest boxes over the years. We followed one basic design, used cedar when we had it and only varied the design/size a bit. The box is easy to construct and installs with a screw on the inside back and one into the bottom of the back. We latch the front with a bent nail or other metal device so we can clean out the box in winter.

We have these boxes all around the garden and on posts throughout the pasture in western Oregon. We even have a line of barbed wire strung between two poles with boxes hanging from the wire. All of our 40+ nest boxes have been occupied at one time or another, by tree swallows, violet-green swallows, chickadees, house wrens, and bluebirds.

jessyratfink3 months ago
Thank you for sharing your successes! I have 11 acres in the high desert of Colorado and plan on adding some birdhouses to my land since we're a bit lacking in trees and other natural nesting places. :)
You're welcome! I researched the potential birds in your area and it looks like you might see any of the various kinds of flycatchers there make use of a nest box, and possibly the Gila woodpecker! Good luck.
misterxp3 months ago
Wonderful thanks!
Wildcat Man and Robin (author)  misterxp3 months ago
You're welcome! Happy to share.
Norm19584 months ago
Absolutely lovely. Simplest is best.
Thank you.
Wildcat Man and Robin (author)  Norm19584 months ago
Thank you for commenting!
GBlakeV4 months ago
The pictures are marvelous, particularly Step 10.
Wildcat Man and Robin (author)  GBlakeV4 months ago
Thank you! Those two were taken just a few weeks ago. We've never captured duck babies inside the box before when we've done a quick "point and shoot." We also never had our wildlife camera capture a baby taking the leap until this photo. We knew it happened, but this was our first film capture.
LeslieGeee4 months ago
Hello Wildcat & Robin, Thank you so much for sharing your birdhouse plans. I have a few questions, are the 1/2" slots at the top of the side pieces the air circulation holes? I also would be grateful if you gave the degree of angle for the tops of the front and back pieces. I may be confused on that but I think you gave the angel cut dimensions for the sides only. Thank you for taking the time to answer :)
Wildcat Man and Robin (author)  LeslieGeee4 months ago
You're welcome! The slots help with venting and so does the space above the front piece. Only the two sides have an angle. Cut the board 11-1/2" long and mark 9-1/2" on one edge; draw a line from top corner to the mark and there's your angle for the cut. The top and back have no angle cut though you can taper cut the top edge of the back if you like. Check out the photos of a completed box for clarification.
Thank you so much for the explanation.I went over the photos several times before I wrote to you and saw that the back and front tops of the boards were angled. Step:3 Cut List picture has an angle on the front board with the access hole and what looks to be the back board pile in the stack in the middle between the access hole boards in the box and the 3 piles to the right of it ( the two sides & tops ).What I thought I saw were angled cuts on the top of the front and back boards to accommodate the angle of the roof and the two side pieces. In the assembly pictures with you air stapling the back board there appears to be an angle cut in that board. The pictures are what confused me.I will make one to your specs & diagram before I modify anything.“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”:)Thank you again for your quick response and help.
Wildcat Man and Robin (author)  LeslieGeee4 months ago
Yup we tend to be more OCD about building than is usually necessary and those photos are from our latest batch of houses we built last summer. A version of this plan was in my book "The Complete Backyard Nature Activity Book for Kids" and I wanted it as simple as possible anyone to build.
Gotcha, :) It is not OCD with me it is ADD. I need to have things clarified to match what I am seeing in pictures in some cases so that I can understand what I am doing. That might seem OCD to some but it is how I see things sometimes. My favorite word is WHY lol. That is why I needed the angles clarified, the pictures did not match the directions or spec sheet and It was confusing to me. ADD can be an asset and a bane. Again thank you for your time and explanation.
ElaneT4 months ago
Great info, thanks so much, my Son is going to make me some :)
Wildcat Man and Robin (author)  ElaneT4 months ago
You're welcome! Great to hear your son will help set up your bird haven!
Yes, my Son is awesome and we are bird lovers :)
buddy barks4 months ago
This is great! I can't wait make some. Especially liked the info about which way to face the box. Also "A peg only allows predators such as crows to reach inside the box." Very simple, but valuable info that isn't usually known.Thanks for providing this instructable!
You're welcome! I hope your boxes are successful.
guitarzan2144 months ago
I only see one hole, that's what gives the good ventilation? Is there a certain height they should be off the ground, and I have some tall pine trees, would hiding the bird house in the branches be ok?

thank you
The four slots and the space above the front piece are for ventilation. As for height, find out what kinds of cavity-nesting birds are in your region and read about their nesting habits via Cornell or Audubon. But around here, 5 to 8 feet works. If in a tree, you want a clear path for entry into the house, so remove branches in front of the house. You might get chipmunks or flying squirrels instead of birds, which we don't mind. :-)
AlexandreS154 months ago
Thanks for the peg and ventilation tip!
You're welcome!