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Archive for Monday, May 11, 2009

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For the birds: Plan ahead for avian dwellings

May 11, 2009

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Building a birdhouse can be easy — but it take a little planning.

Building a birdhouse can be easy — but it take a little planning.

For these tenants, a wood shack is as good as a palace.

You can buy ready-made birdhouses at prices up to $100 or more. Or you could build your own for $5 -$10 in materials. Here are some tips how:

Do some research: There are many books about attracting birds and building birdhouses, and you can find other resources on the Internet. One such resource: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s pamphlet “Homes for Birds,” available at http://library.fws.gov/Bird—Publications/house.html

Decide what kind of bird you want to attract: This will determine the dimensions of the birdhouse and where it should be hung.

Plans: The Internet also has many sites offering free construction plans for birdhouses. Among them: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/ nestinginfo/nestboxref/ construct.

Materials: Before you begin, gather wood that has not been painted or chemically treated, about 3/4-inch thick; galvanized or brass shank nails, hinges and screws; saw; drill; hammer; screwdriver; wood glue; paint, if you want to paint the exterior.

Things to remember: The size of the hole should be suitable for the type of bird you want to attract; ventilate the top and add drainage holes in the bottom; one side should be hinged or pivoted, to facilitate cleaning.

Time: How long the project takes will depend on your experience and skill, and how you want the birdhouse to be. With plans, the basic birdhouse probably can be completed in a half-hour to a few hours.

Mounting: Where? If possible, mount the birdhouse on a metal pole, which is tougher than a tree for predators to climb, says the Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Pick a height that’s convenient for you,” the agency says. “After all, you’ll want to watch what goes on and keep the box clean.”

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