Seven different varieties of this nest box arc sold: for tits and pied flycatchcrs; starlings; tree creepers; spotted flycatchers and wagtails;
'All-Year1 Nest Box with removable front
'All-Year1 Nest Box with removable front
Triangular Nest Box
Tengmalm s owls, stock doves and jackdaws; tawny owls, goldeneye and goosanders. They are made by the partially disabled in Gavle and may be ordered by post from: Mekotex AB, Snickcriavdelningen, Utrnarksvagen 6, 802 26 Gavle, Sweden.
The nest box's front side, rear side and floor arc made from soft wood, and the two sides and roof from hardwood. It should be possible to let the floor down so that the box can be cleaned easily.
The roof of this nest box is superbly constructed. It juts out sufficiently on either side of the entrance hole to prevent magpies and jays from inserting their beaks and plundering the nest. The floor is held in place with a large galvanized nail. Dampness normally causes the floor to expand and become jammed, but the use of this nail instead will make it easy to let down the floor and clcan the nest box after the young have flown.
The pied flycatcher model or'tit nest box'measures 26 * 12.5 cm with an entrance hole 3.5 cm in diameter which not only makes it large enough for great tits but also for sparrows which might sometimes be regarded as a nuisance. Pied flycatchers have nested around 100 times in this type of box in my research areas, and all have been successful.
The starling nest box has a total height of 31.5 cm, internal floor measurements of 15.5 * 12 cm, and an entrance hole diameter of 5 cm. This is a popular box with starlings.
The treeereeper model has a height of 46.5 cm, a 12 * 9.5 cm floor, a half moon-shaped entrance hole, measuring 10 * 3.5 cm, on either side, starlings and great tits have bred very successfully in this type of box, but no trcecrccpcrs as yet.
The spoiled flycatcher model is open at the front and has internal floor measurements of 12.5 x 12 cm and a total height of 15.5 cm. The front, back, roof and floor arc made from board and the sides from hardwood. This box is also suitable for wagtails and redstarts. As yet no breeding has taken place in this type of nest box in my area.
The model for Tengmalm's owl, stock dove, and jackdaw measures 62 * 20 * 20 cm, with an 8.5 cm diameter entrance hole, and has rungs inside to enable the young birds to reach the entrance hole.
The design intended for tawny owls and goldeneye is readily used especially by the tawny owl. Its total height is 62 cm, internal floor measurements 22 * 20 cm. with an entrance hole diameter of 11.5 cm, and rungs inside.
The largest model, for goosanders, has a total height of 90 cm, internal floor measurements of 29.5 * 25 cm, and an entrance hole diameter of 15 em.
Nesting material, such as sawdust, must be placed in the bottom of nest boxes for owls and mergansers. These boxes arc just as easy to clean as the smaller ones, and this need only be carried out every third year, remembering only to add a little fresh nesting material each year. Wild ducks, mergansers, and owls do not build nests and must be given this sort of help, otherwise they will not breed. As owls often sleep in the nest box for the remainder of the year, two boxes should be set up so that one can always be eleaned and aired without disturbing the owl. Nest boxes often become damp on the floor and along the sides after a few years and this will lead to rotting if it is not properly dried out. Once dry, the box should be closed and filled with dry nesting material.
RF (plastic) nest boxes
This box for tits is made from high-density polyethylene by RF products, Kariagatan 32C, 510 55, Lidkoping, Sweden. Its resistance to predators, wind and weather make this a very superior tree nest box. It has channels which provide ventilation thus reducing condensation. I have tested this box for two breeding seasons, with good results.
The floor sits firmly on a bayonet socket and is easy to remove for cleaning. The nest box is 12 cm deep, the diameter of the floor is 13 cm, and the entrance hole has a diameter of 3.5 cm. The floor contains a hole.
There has always been a good deal of criticism of nest boxes made from high density plastic and this may have been justified for the early models. But expanded plastic has subsequently been produced containing gas bubbles which imparts good insulating ability. Very high internal temperatures inside plastic nest boxes may kill the young. A further problem is that the rapid healing and cooling leads to condensation which collccts in the ball of nesting material especially in the green moss used by tits, causing dampness which also leads to the death of a large number of young birds, although so far I have never observed this in RF plastic nest boxes. However to be safe one should always ensure, especially with plastic, that the nest boxes arc put up in sites where ihcy will always be shaded and never become exposed to full sun.
The research which revealed a high fatality rate amongst tits was carried out with a plastic box made from conventional high-density polyethylene, which provides very poor insulation and allows heavy condensation.
Unfortunately the press in Sweden followed up the publication oflhis research with photographs of expanded polyethylene nest boxes and stated that they were dangerous for birds. However, it was not the plastic nest box in general which was dangerous, but rather the high density plastic nest box, manufacture of which ceased ten years ago. But regrettably this gave all plastic nest boxes a poor reputation, which is a great nuisance, beeausc when manufactured from the correct material these boxes are good, cheap, and last forever.
Research into fatality amongst young tits has only been undertaken from the point of view of nest box material, and has not so far touched upon the factor of cold spring times, which can increase the death rate because of the resulting food shortage. In addition, environmental toxins can sometimes cause sudden death in tits. Research has revealed high levels of DDT, polychlorinaled biphenyls, and lindane in the eggs of flycatchers and tils.
'All-year' nest boxes
These boxes come in four models: for tits and flycatchers, for starlings, for treecreepers, and for owls.
They are made in West Germany from sawdust and cement and have excellent insulating properties. They are also extremely hard-wearing and can be used almost indefinitely. The mixture of materials is referred to as wood-cement board, and it goes to make a nest box which can be used throughout the whole year.
The 'All-year' box takes the form of a vertical cylinder with a pointed roof. The starling and owl models are larger and have more gently sloping roofs. The model for tits and flycatchers has an internal depth of 19cm, a floor diameter of 15cm, and an entrance hole diameter of 3.5 cm. The starling model has an internal depth of 22 cm, a floor-diameter of 17 cm, and an entrance hole diameter of 5 cm. The treecrecper model has an internal depth of 18 cm, a floor diameter of 14 cm, and entrance hole length and breadth of 10 and 2 cm respectively. The owl model has equivalent inner depth, floor, and entrance hole dimensions of 18. 21, and 11.5 cm, respectively, with a total height of 40 cm.
These boxes may be ordered from the Swedish exporters who arc Hillerstrom &Co., Box 262. Mai mo 1, Sweden.
They are much dearer than boxes made from planks, but they do last for many years. 1 have had mine for about 20 years, and in Skane there are some which have been up for around 30 years and are still completely intact.
It is a first rate nest box which in the long run is cheaper than any other because the material from which it is built virtually lasts for ever. It neither cracks nor warps and is very easy to clean a_s the front can be lifted and removed. Care should be taken when removing the front to examine the nest during winter, as the area around thcentrance holecan be broken off. If this docs happen, the box front should be taken indoors where it can easily be glued on the outside and allowed to dry before replacing.
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