“If you like birds hanging out in your yard, definitely build one if you got the tools for it. It’s a lot of fun!”Caleigh Lehan, Wetlands Workforce assistant
Can you recall ever building a birdhouse? Perhaps it was when you were young, on one of those annual visits to Grandma’s house. Perhaps you built one with your parents for a school project. Or, maybe you just really like birds and wanted to see more of them outside your window.
Did you know, birdhouses are an important tool to help birds return to restored wetlands?
When dealing with a restored wetland, it may not contain all the same aspects of a naturally occurring one, especially at the beginning of a restoration project. Trees, plants and grasses provide prime real estate for many species of birds, but they take some time to grow. By using birdhouses, a cozy spot is provided for birds to nest and call home while they wait to upgrade to the very top hole of a cottonwood tree or a waterfront grass hollow. Birdhouses help birds come to these restored areas that will eventually transform into a vibrant wetland, bustling with wildlife activity.
The Wetlands Workforce is installing birdhouses at several project sites including, KP Park, Gardom Lake, G”H”yppo Logging Basin, Nellistijn Property, KLO Middle School, Silverdale, Salix and Sedge, Haywire, Dewdney Elementary, and Spike Elk.
Wetlands Workforce Assistant Caleigh Lehan has been working on building birdhouses for these sites. Caleigh provides a few tips and tricks for those who may want to build their own birdhouses.
“If you are like me, you will probably just want to jump in and get going, cutting things and putting things together, but realistically it is a really good idea to go over the plans and make sure you understand them first,” Caleigh said. “On some plans, not all of the measurements are explicitly stated, so it takes a bit of interpreting to figure out how the boards go together. Taking the time to make sure you are interpreting the plans right is going to help you a lot.”
Caleigh’s Top Bird House Building Tips:
- Measure twice, cut once – Double check all your measurements before you make any cuts will save you some headaches in the long run.
- Use untreated lumber – if it is pressure treated, it can have some gnarly chemicals in it that are bad for the animals and will smell bad to them, so birds won’t use it. Plywood is the best option.
- Paint with non-toxic paint – Painting the houses is highly recommended if you are using plywood to prevent wear and weathering.
- Use box nails – The nail size between a common nail and finishing nail. If you use a common nail, you really want to make sure you measure where the nail is going because if it goes through the side, it will split the wood. It can also create gaps in the structure, not sealing it properly, thus not making an ideal roosting spot. Nails that poke out can also create hazards for people handling the boxes and the birds using the boxes.
Caleigh has had experience with woodworking projects prior to working with the Wetlands Workforce but building these birdhouses has allowed her to relearn some of the technical skills she has not used in a while. She also learned some new things about the future residents of these birdhouses.
“The box for the ducks has a little ladder for the baby ducks to climb out of. I didn’t know that they could grab things with their little feet to climb. I also learned that some ducks find little cavities in trees to nest in.”
There are two types of houses that Caleigh built. The bigger house is for cavity-nesting ducks like Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers and Buffleheads. This type of house can be modified to benefit Common Mergansers by making the entry hole wider and taller by an extra inch. The smaller birdhouse is for Swallows and Blue Birds. You can make an even smaller house that would attract Wrens, Chickadees and Nuthatches.
Caleigh’s final advice, “If you like birds hanging out in your yard, definitely build one if you got the tools for it. It’s a lot of fun!”