Bird Houses
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#2   Woodpecker Box

Another of my favorite birds locally is the Downy Woodpecker.  It is the smallest woodpecker we have in this area.  They are a frequent encounter in some of the parks, but I was a bit surprised to find one hanging-out in the neighborhood last spring for about a week.  They look for snags, or trees with dead trunks into which they can bore their hole, so this one in particular spent a lot of time checking-out the birch tree that I call "Grand Central Station" in my yard since most of the tree is dead.  I call it Grand Central because I hang several different bird feeders on the lower branches, and lots of other birds use the upper reaches for perching.  It provides and open vantage into about eleven different yards.

The target:
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)


The recommended dimensions for a nest box for Downy Woodpecker are exactly the same as for Red-Breasted Nuthatch, so these will conveniently pair quite well.  However I built a box specifically to target the woodpecker that was placed in the birch tree.  For the Nuthatch boxes, I used lumber; but for the Woodpecker boxes, I used whole rounds from limbs that were taken-off another birch tree I felled in fall 2007.  Stylistically, both could be improved, but both should be functional.  One is probably a little too small, even for Downy's and Nuthatches, and would probably fare better in the mountains where some Chickadees would find it.  We'll have to see.

This exercise was a little different than the nuthatch boxes from a woodworking perspective and provided some contrast.  A little more raw and crude, you could say.  Rather than finished lumber worked with a precision miter saw, this was basically firewood manipulated with blunt instruments.


First, I cut each log to create a "back" that would allow access into the cavity of the box,
and a flat surface with which to mount the box to backing. 
Notice the sophisticated sawhorse.



Using the chainsaw, I now made deep slices into the would-be cavity.  On this first model, I cut all the way through the bottom, which would later require fashioning a floor made from lumber.  On the second model, I chopped the bottom (floor) off first, so that I could re-attach that actual piece of the log for a better and more natural fit.



Now, using a sledge and a cold chisel as a gouge, I bashed-out the larger slivers of heartwood
and chiseled-out the cavity of the nest box.  Fortunately, no knuckles were broken.



The photo does not pick up the depth very well, but here are the finished interiors.  The smaller box
has interior dimensions that are slightly smaller than what is recommended for both
Downy's and Red-Breasted Nuthatches. 


First off, if you recall other photos I have posted from this vantage point, you will recall a nice hybrid
birch tree that was across the street.  When I got home from work this day, it was gone.  Poor decision.
Anyway, here I am preparing birch bark harvested from rounds.  I used the bark to veneer the lumber
used on the back of the bird house.  This made it look more natural, and also gave the birds natural
bark to cling to inside the house.


The bark was adhered with wood glue and staples. 


Here, the larger of the two houses.  Birch bark used to seal the exposed heartwood on top, cover the back,
and cover the bottom/floor. 


Thanks to Brad for helping me get the bird house mounted here at Grand Central Station.  I don't think we met
OSHA standards.  I should probably start thinking more with my brain than with my dick when I do this stuff.
Anyway, I wanted to get it a little higher, and with some luck and guts in the future, I may just do that.
I am pleased with the way it blends into the tree, and that was a major goal. 

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