I’m in the process of completing twenty more nestbox setups just like this. Ten have been completed so far–ten more coming for this season. Three I have sold back to a local monitor with all costs for the complete nestbox setups given to an excellent local charity to help our less fortunate who live in our county. One has been installed just last week at a private residence along my trail–monies to the same charity. Woo-hoo!
This is what is in the setup:
- Side-swing-down door on this observation nestbox for easy monitoring using the Virginia Bluebird Society nestbox plan made from western red cedar. This wood will weather year after year beautifully. No painting needed!
- One-inch metal galvanized conduit (you can also just call it hollow metal pole) cut to 7.5 feet, 6-inch wide x 24-inch long galvanized “stovepipe” round duct with duct cap ground predator guard (to deter snakes, raccoons, mice, opossums, squirrels, feral and roaming housecats and more) designed to W-O-B-B-L-E while hanging on the conduit below the box. A wobbling stovepipe is harder to get by.
- Vinyl-coated hardware cloth entry-hole predator guard (highly effective to protect nestlings and eggs!)
- All hardware to install all of the above.
- My own small black lightweight canvas “tack” supply bag I use on the trail with essential tools I need beyond my car and at each nestbox visit, which I do about twice a week.
- Post driver to pound the conduit about 1.5 feet into the ground so that the top of the nextbox roof is at about 5.5 feet. (By the way, the one-inch conduit is about the right sturdiness to secure this nestbox, particularly if one of our local black bears bumps into one!)
Now that I look at it, it doesn’t look like too much at all. Also included in this picture is what to use if one chooses to spray paint the galvanized conduit and stovepipe a color conducive to disappear into nature (I suggest a dark brown). You will see white vinegar, a spray bottle for the vinegar, an old pillow case, and a good quality dark brown oil-based spray paint. What is not in the picture is a large twist tie or string to secure the pillow case over the nestbox during the spray painting. Pick a nice day to do this. Make sure NO BIRDS are nesting in a box! Put an old pillow case over the nestbox and tie the bottom. This keeps the nestbox separate from the vinegar spray and painting. (DO NOT spray the nestbox with any paint inside or out. If you use a good wood that weathers well, you need not paint the box.) First, spray the galvanized pole and stovepipe and cap with the vinegar and let thoroughly dry. Then (important) check for any winds! If you have some, you best wait on the painting. If after “pickling” the galvanized metal with the vinegar and you have determined it is dry, you can then spray paint the rest. I recommend the brand Rustoleum UltraCover 2x Matte color (only one application needed) in color Expresso. Make sure the paint is dried completely and then remove the pillow case. By pickling the galvanized metal first, the oil-based spary paint won’t peel off. By the way, do not spray paint anything if birds are using the boxes! That’s a good warning to share with you. If they are using the box, don’t do it–just wait until later in the year after the nesting season is over, such as in September. I have to be honest with you….I think the pickling and spray painting of the stovepipes are not necessary; but if you prefer it, this is how to do it. Most of mine are kept as they came from the store, including the price stickers. The priority here is to keep that stovepipe as smooth as possible. I have found greasing them won’t be necessary is MOST circumstances. If you want to purchase pre-painted stovepipe round duct, some retail outlets will sell them in black. They are a bit more expensive, however. Also, DO NOT spray paint the hardware cloth entry-hole guards.
Installation How To: Having 2 people helps! One person holding the conduit straight (use a level if you have one), use a post driver to pound the 7.5 length conduit into the ground (search for sturdy, flat ground with not too much rocks). Next, insert carriage bolt into pre-drilled hole where the ground stovepipe guard will hang. Add the two nuts and tighten with a hand-wrench. Install ground stovepipe with duct cap screwed on both sides to round duct onto the conduit so it will hang and wobble on the carriage bolt. Next, take a ready-to-install nestbox with a drilled hole in the back and open the side door. Add another carriage or machine bolt with a half-inch size washer and insert that through the pre-dilled hole on the inside and backside of the box. Then insert the box with bolt through pre-drilled hole in the conduit and add nut on other side of conduit and tighten well. At bottom of box for added support to conduit, add U-clamp over the conduit and use electric drill to install two wood screws (about 1.5″ size) through the U-clamp on each side and into box. Be sure those screws are not too long or they’ll stick through the nestbox on the inside (dangerous to birds). You should not see any screws points inside the box. The hardward cloth entry hole guard can be made and installed on box prior to setup installation. Through another follow-up post forthcoming, I will detail more tips on the installation method. Where to find these plans? Of course, you can find them on the Virginia Bluebird Society’s website: http://www.virginiabluebirds.org/nestboxguards.html You can find all kinds of helpful information there, free of charge! Do visit if you haven’t been there yet. Happy Bluebirding. Comments and questions encouraged! Leave them here!