Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

This House is for the Birds

Chores, Conservation, Nest Boxes, Song Birds

My 88 readers know that I am a big fan of song birds.  Over the last couple of decades I have been building and installing nest boxes on our farm to provide a home for the cavity-nesting birds such as house wrens, tree swallows, bluebirds and so-forth.  One of the rites of spring is cleaning, repairing and installing replacement nest boxes. 

The cleaning part is most important as discarding the previous year's nesting material is critical to prevent the spread of disease and parasites.  The dogs love to accompany us as once and awhile some white-footed deer mice move in over the winter and take-up residence after the birds have left.  When a mouse is evicted things get pretty exciting with the Labs around.

This spring I'm replacing a dozen boxes that were built in 2001.  Taking my cue from Henry Ford my boxes are built following a uniform template that allows for replaceable parts.  Nevertheless, after thirteen years there's lichen growing on the lids, parts have cracked, warped and split.  The old nest boxes have done a good job but they've reached the end of their useful life and are even beyond replacement of their most broken parts.  They'll be disassembled and reduced to kindling wood.

The design of the home-built box evolved over time.  I've always chosen pine for material.  It's affordable and if sealed properly it holds-up well against the elements.  This time I splurged and chose to build with cedar.  It's also a brand new design based-upon a box I purchased from a bluebird support group.  I reverse-engineered it and added a couple of design touches of my own.  It's elegantly simple, easier to clean and with the durability of cedar should last a long time.  

At last count I have fifty nest boxes in the line-up.  They're stationed at various locations on roughly three miles of trails in both wooded, grassland, upland and lowland sites to attract a variety of cavity-nesters.  As the birds return and take-up residence I'll post some updates of the grandkids as they hatch!

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