News of the Week

Feb. 26, 2015
Nest Boxes Offer Family Fun All Season

   Are you looking for a fun activity for your outdoor-oriented family? Install a nest box today and enjoy hours of wildlife-watching while learning about your backyard birds! Nest boxes enhance your property's wildlife habitat and have played an important role in conserving our cavity-nesting birds. Nest box programs across the breeding range of the eastern bluebird have helped stabilize, and in some cases, increase this favored backyard visitor. Maintaining these programs is especially important as habitat loss and invasive species still limit the availability of natural cavities.

   Melynda Hickman, wildlife diversity biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, offers the following tips to enhance your experience:

  • Customize the nest box size and entrance hole to cater to your favorite cavity-nesting species.
  • Build nest boxes with rough-textured wood. This helps the nest box blend into the natural habitat and aids young birds in climbing out of the nest.
  • Remove perches from your nest box. Perches attract the invasive house sparrow and aren't needed by our native birds.
  • Avoid plastic and metal nest boxes as they may get too hot in the summer.
  • Check boxes weekly to monitor nest success and remove intruding house sparrows and starling nests.

    As nesting season progresses, be sure to track the species use and nesting attempts in each box. At the end of the season, report the total number of eggs and fledglings to the Wildlife Department's "Oklahoma Nest Box Trails" citizen science project. Over the course of the 29-year project, outdoor enthusiasts have reported more than 68,000 eastern bluebird fledglings! More information about the project, including an online reporting form, can be found at wildlifedepartment.com.

   Want to learn more about Oklahoma's cavity-nesting birds? Check out the March/April issue of "Outdoor Oklahoma" magazine to learn about this nesting strategy and the nest box requirements of northern flickers, Carolina chickadees and great crested flycatchers!

       Adding a nest box is a simple way to enhance your wildlife habitat! Find construction plans at noble.org.