Once again, I discover that though I craft continually, I find it increasingly difficult to record what I have been doing! Most recently, I have had spring fever and have spent a great deal of time outside.
Since we have been living under the expectation that we might be moving at any time, I have hesitated to hang my birdhouses or sink a great deal of money into improving the yard, but there does come a point where you must live where you are at the moment. With this in mind, I set out to enjoy where we live right now without investing a great deal of money.
Though I do have several birdhouses, I did not really want to hang my good ones and take a chance that I would have to leave them behind if we do have to move, so one morning when my son had some free time, we set out to make a bird box out of some scraps of pallet wood.
A standard bluebird box is normally about 12′ high and has a 5×5″ square floor, with a 1 1/2″ diameter hole placed in the front wall about 6″ above the floor. A house with these dimensions may also attract chickadees, titmice, wrens, and some swallows, depending upon where the box is hung. However, it may also attract starlings (an unprotected invasive species), and since we do have starlings in our area that love to take over bird boxes, we decided to make some modifications to our house which have proved successful on past houses we have owned. Starlings prefer a dark box, so we went with a slot style opening at the top instead of the standard hole–this allows for much more light and air flow inside the box. We also raised the floor to a depth of 5 1/2″ below the opening because the starlings prefer a deeper cavity while the other birds will allow for a shallower box. Roof design is a personal choice, and we decided to make one that slanted from the back to the front with a 1″ drop. By cutting the corners off the floor piece (seen at left) before assembling the box, we allowed for any water that might blow into the box to drain off.
Because we were working with pallet wood, we had to allow for many imperfections, but birds fortunately do not have licensed house inspectors! 🙂 We found it easier to drill pilot holes even though we were using nails, because it seemed to keep the wood from splitting. Where the boards were warped, we also found it handy to use a drimmel tool to trim down the wood and allow for the walls to fit snugly.
The house is mounted by one screw through the back wall inside the box and another one through the extended back board under the house. The front wall of the house is attached at its base with nails through the side walls which allows for it to swing down to allow access to the interior. It is held in place by a bent piece of metal that goes through the side wall and into the front wall at the top.
This feature has proved useful in the past to save the lives of the baby birds. We live in an area of the country where fire ants are a problem, so I check on the babies regularly to make sure that they are not being attacked by these pests. In the past, having access to the box allowed me to remove the ants from the box and the babies, form another nest cup, and put the babies and the new “nest” back into the box. The parent birds went back to feeding their young, and they eventually fledged. Yea!
This is how our finished box appears. The only expense involved in it was the power we used to run the tools and some nails and screws. Since there is a larger opening in a slot style box, I would be stapling an overhanging strip of metal hardware cloth to the roof if I thought we would have a problem with predators -long enough to block the opening from above while still allowing the birds to come up from below and for the front wall to open.
We were rewarded for our efforts within two days of hanging the box. A pair of bluebirds claimed it, and we have been watching from our house windows as they gathered nesting materials and finally laid three beautiful eggs!
It is easy while building a house for the birds for my thoughts to drift to the promise of Christ where He says, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3). What a precious promise! I think that many people look forward to going to heaven, thought not always for the right reason. Some look forward to being free from sorrow, pain, and sin; others anticipate being reunited with loved ones who have already died; still others dream of the beauty of heaven and the streets of gold. Yet though all these things are true of heaven, the greatest bliss of heaven is that we will finally be with Christ! As a child of God, whatever may happen to me in this life, I have something to look forward to – a home where I can enjoy fellowship face-to-face with my Savior forever. What my earthly mind can only guess at, my eyes will one day see. Eternity will not be long enough to plumb the depths of His beauty, character, and perfection, but I know I will enjoy trying!