Some birds are less likely to use nesting boxes, preferring instead the shelter of natural trees or even the overhang of a roof. You can still encourage these birds to nest in your yard, attracting cardinals, robins, mourning doves and more by offering an open-fronted nesting shelter.
One year a pair of Carolina wrens showed interest in making a home outside our sunroom. After witnessing days of indecision and debate, I thought I might help them along by installing a nesting box. Rather than purchasing something, I wanted to create a DIY birdhouse that was also a recycled crafts project, so I chose a small galvanized bucket that I’d been using for years. It was perfect—not too big or too small, with angled sides and a wire handle. You can create this kind of shelter in a version that suits your style; here’s how I made mine.
- Old bucket
- Hammer and nails
- Screwdriver and wood screw
- Needle-nose pliers
- Spray paint
Paint. Painting is often the easiest way to transform the ordinary into something snazzy. I chose a pumpkin-orange spray paint for the outside of my bucket and metallic silver for the inside. If this bucket were in newer condition, I would have left the inside unpainted.
Prepare to Hang. I knew I was going to screw this bucket directly onto our porch column (made out of a tree trunk, courtesy of Hurricane Isabel in 2003), so all I needed to do was drill a hole in the center of the bucket. But if you think you might attach your nesting box differently, make sure it’s ready to hang before accessorizing it with delicate objects.
Accessorize. The shape of this little bucket reminded me of a head, which made me want to add a hat. I didn’t want this topper to overwhelm the bucket, so I decided to use wire. I also like the way wire bends, and the fact that birds (unlike bigger critters) have no problem perching on it. The bucket’s wire handle gave me an easy way to attach the hat.
Hang. When choosing a location, keep in mind that Carolina wrens, cardinals, and robins are the most likely birds to take up residence in a nest box. Carolina wren nests are frequently found near homes, usually 3 to 6 feet off the ground, and in odd places. Robins’ nests tend to be in the lower halves of trees, as well as in gutters or eaves, and on outdoor light fixtures and other structures. You’ll have better luck attracting cardinals if you place the nesting box in a very sheltered area with plenty of dense cover.