The best way to study wild animals is by observing them, but instinct keeps most animals far from human populations. Birds seem to be an exception to this general rule. If comfortable and adequate housing is offered to them, many types of birds will take it, rather than building a nest in the woods. This offers you an easy way to study their daily activities. Following the instructions for the project below, you will be able to create simple bird box, improving the available nesting space and offering attractive breeding cavities for wrens, chickadees, bluebirds and nuthatches.
Place the board on a flat surface. You can use wood other than cedar, but cedar is ideal as its natural resistance to decay means it does not need to be finished to protect it against the elements. It can be finished if you'd like. Once the board is securely in place, measure the following pieces: three 6-by-8 inch pieces for the front, back and roof; two 4-by-8 inch pieces for the sides and one 4-by-4 inch piece of wood for the floor. Mark the pieces in pencil and saw carefully. If it helps, write on them---front, back, roof, right side, left side and floor.
Drill or saw an entrance hole 1 ½ inches in diameter, about 2 ½ inches from the top of the box. Be careful not to make the hole too large. Anything bigger than 2 inches across will attract squirrels and bats, not birds. An entry that is too large won't protect the birds from predators.
Drill several small holes in the bird box floor for water drainage.
Begin building the bird box by attaching one side to the bottom with galvanised nails. Then attach the back and then the front. Attach the final side to the roof with wood screws so it can be easily opened for cleaning. Alternatively, the roof could be attached with hinges to the back, so long as you remember to leave yourself a way to open the bird box.
Mount the bird box approximately 5 feet above the ground near trees and shrubs.
If you are mounting your bird box on a post, attach some form of predator guard as well to keep snakes out of the bird box. If you use wood other than cedar, be sure to treat it for protection against the elements.
Be careful when cleaning time approaches. Make sure the bird box is vacant before you open it. Never clean your bird box in the spring and summer when chicks are most likely to be present.