To overcome this difficulty the Audubon Society several years ago began to advocate the erection of suitable nesting boxes, and today the practice is gaining wide usage. More persons every year are putting such boxes upon poles or nailing them to trees about their homes, and some city authorities include bird boxes in the annual expenditure for the care of public parks. It was not much more than a decade ago that the first serious commercial attempt was made to place bird boxes on the market. To-day there are not less than twenty firms engaged in their manufacture. Some of the boxes are very ornate and make beautiful additions even to the most carefully kept estate. One can buy them at prices varying from thirty-five cents to thirty-five dollars each. Among the many responsible manufacturers that may be recommended are:
The Crescent Company, ” Birdville,” Toms River, New Jersey; Pinedale Bird Nesting Box Company, Wareham, Massachusetts; The Audubon Bird House Company, Meriden, New Hampshire; Maplewood Biologica Laboratory, Stamford, Connecticut; Jacobs Bird House Company, 404 South Washington St., Waynesburg, Pa.; Decker Brothers, Rhinebeck, New York; Winthrop Packard, Canton, Massachusetts.
It is not necessary, however, to buy boxes to put up for birds. Equally useful ones can be made in the Manual Training Department of any school, or in the basement or woodshed at home. If you do not know how to begin, you should buy one bird box and construct others similar for yourself. Men sometimes make the mistake of thinking it is absolutely necessary that such boxes should conform strictly to certain set dimensions. Remember that the cavities in trees and stumps, which birds naturally use, show a wide variety in size, shape, and location. A many-roomed, well-painted Martin house makes a pleasing appearance in the landscape, but may not be attractive to the Martins. As a boy I built up a colony of more than fifteen pairs of these birds by the simple device of rudely partitioning a couple of soap boxes. The entrances to the different rooms were neither uniform in size nor in shape, but were such as an untrained boy could cut out with a hatchet. A dozen gourds, each with a large hole in the side, completed the tenements for this well-contented Martin community.
Some Rules for Making and Erecting Bird Boxes.Here are a few simple rules on the making and placing of bird boxes:
1. In all nest boxes, except those designed for Martins, the opening should be several inches above the floor, thus conforming to the general plan of a Woodpecker’s hole, or natural cavity in a tree.
2. As a rule nest boxes should be erected on poles from ten to thirty feet from the ground, or fastened to the sides of trees where limbs do not interfere with the outlook. The main exception is in the case of Wrens, whose boxes or gourds can be nailed or wired in fruit trees or to the side of buildings.
3. Martin houses should be erected on poles at least twenty feet high, placed well out in the open, not less than one hundred feet from buildings or large trees.
4. All boxes should be taken down after the nesting season and the old nesting material removed. The foregoing list does not contain the names of all the kinds of birds which have thus far been induced to occupy these artificial nesting sites, but it has most of them. It should be remembered that hole-nesting birds are the only kind that will ever use a bird box. One need not expect a Meadowlark to leave its nest in the grass for a box on a pole, nor imagine that an Oriole will give up the practice of weaving its swinging cradle on an elm limb to go into a box nailed to the side of the tree.