On the cusp of this Leap Year month, the nesting season is soon among us once again, and we must be sure our nesting boxes are protected so our beautiful native cavity-nesting birds can successfully fledge their young without sabotage and interruption. It is up to us as humans — when installing manmade bird housing, that is — to add this protection. We cannot do this in natural habitat in natural cavities much higher into the trees, but as stewards helping the native cavity-nesting birds, we can help by providing safe locations for them to bring their young into the world when we install and lure the birds to use our manmade bird housing. Predators from the ground are and can be, depending on your location: Snakes, Raccoons, Cats, Opossum, Rats, Mice, and Squirrels. Have I missed any? (Will not stop ants.) Mr. Ron Kingston and I keep in contact often. Mr. Kingston, being the designer of this guard, has created an inexpensive-to-make but highly effective wobbling stovepipe guard to easily install under nesting boxes. This design has been tested over and over on bluebird trails for many years. He recently sent me this colorful PDF online document with more info with some awesome photo graphics on making this guard, including some nice info about Ron himself! Thank you! I have never seen it before. Here it is and linked from the Purple Martin Field Day (which occurs in June each day in Louisa County, Virginia): Click here: From the Purple Martin Field Day website
Let me know if you have questions either by posting here on this blog post or contacting me privately through the CONTACT ME page. I will be duplicating this document on my “Deterring Predators and Pests” page also. I am also linking the plan below how to make it in a PDF file, viewable and printable online below.
Find the plans here (if the links are not live, just cut and paste the URL in your browser separately):
Photo by Richard Hess. What’s not to love? A successful fledging from a nestbox is goal #1. PLEASE USE PREDATOR GUARDS.
Suggestion: I install as high off the ground as possible so I can still reach the tops of boxes to monitor fast and efficiently without too much fuss during nestings so the birds can get back to business away from my human presence to tend to their nest and young. I use an auto visor mirror to look down onto the nests to count eggs and young and to check for any possible problems with the young so I can troubleshoot how to help, just in case. I install the stovepipe guards under my nestboxes fairly high from the ground–where the tops of my boxes are at about six (6) feet above ground. Boxes installed too low, such as 4 feet (even 5 feet is low if you are installing a box on an incline terrain or hill), are too easy for snakes, raccoons, and cats, to get past the guard. Feral cats can jump 6 feet! (NOTE: I prefer all my boxes to be off of flat terrain as much as possible.)
Here is a YouTube Video I made regarding one of my first boxes on my trail and using this guard: