BIRD WATCH: Bird houses need to be repaired now

VALENTINE’S DAY WAS like a newspaper deadline date.

There might be a few chocolates left in the heart-shaped boxes and flower bouquets still look lovely, but the deadline has passed.

Bird houses, or nest boxes, need to be ready now.

It doesn’t take long once you begin looking over the yard’s available dwellings before you see what needs to be done.

There are also some problems to be dealt with.

How about the nest box squirrels decided to take over?

That’s a big one in my yard and I’ve looked at it hundreds of times since last fall.

One brood of baby squirrels were spared.

I’m not into dispatching these pests — yet.

Once the nursery was empty, the box was plugged with lots of rags.

It’s mounted on the front of the carport where I was positive it was safe from the squirrels.

It was originally intended for chickadees, nuthatches or violet-green swallows.

To say that it needs some modification is an understatement.

The squirrels enlarged the entrance, making it useless for small birds.

Even starlings could use it now.

Modifying the entrance isn’t the biggest challenge.

That just requires cutting a new hole in a smaller piece of wood and placing it over the enlarged hole.

I’m considering rimming the entrance with metal, something the squirrels can’t chew through.

This task goes to the world’s best handyman.

Gary will figure out something.

Deciding on where to place a bird house is a major decision.

When you choose the perfect spot, you know it right away.

There will be birds checking it out almost before it is in place.

The chickadees and nuthatches will probably start arguing over it.

House sparrows will also get into the confrontations, but if the entrance is the correct size, they eventually give up because they can’t get into the house.

Entrance openings in houses for these two smaller birds should be no wider than one and one-eighth inches.

If you have a favorite house with a larger opening, try the small block trick.

Just cut an opening to the correct size and fasten it over the old one.

Where starlings and house sparrows aren’t a problem, chickadees and nuthatches readily use houses with the old one and one-quarter opening.

Later in the season, these might also be used by violet-green or tree swallows.

They move in after the smaller birds launch their broods.

Woodpeckers will nest in manmade bird houses.

Flickers have become notorious for the way they hammer on our houses, but they also attack the bird houses.

There is one persistent male that has been doing this for at least three years.

I suspect it is the same bird this spring.

Once he begins his loud tapping on the two boxes on the front of the house, Penny dog goes into action.

Neither of us know whether it is a neighbor working on his house or someone knocking on the door.

The two houses were originally installed for the violet-green swallows that like the second story placement.

However, the chickadees usually get the dwellings first.

I don’t want them remodeled by a flicker.

There are products that state they are bird repellants.

That’s fine if it is your house they are threatening, but those same repellants would drive away other birds if they work.

Other than hammering on the windows for several weeks, I’m stymied by the flickers.

They eventually give up but then I can only hope the other birds will decide to move in.

Most of us who enjoy the birds in our yards have faced some or all of these bird house challenges.

I’d like to hear how you have solved one or all of them.

Others now facing some of these problems would like to know your methods.


Joan Carson’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at P.O. Box 532, Poulsbo, WA 98370, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Email:

More in Life

OPEN’s Spring Tack Sale is Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 251 Roupe Road (off Hooker Road). Proceeds benefit rescued horses, minis, ponies (such as the one pictured with grossly overgrown hooves) and donkeys. Western and English saddles, saddle pads, halters, sheets, bits, bridles; western jewelry, clothes, boots and more. (photo by Valerie Jackson)
HORSEPLAY: Clean up after yourself and your horse

CLEAN UP ON aisle 7! Remember: Unlike a grocery store clerk who… Continue reading

The Olympic Kiwanis Club reports that its recent electronics recycling event was even more popular than planned for.
Kiwanis recycling event a success

The Olympic Kiwanis Club reports that its recent electronics recycling event in… Continue reading

Future Chefs contest names cooking contest winners

Sodexo and the Port Angeles School District have announced… Continue reading

A GROWING CONCERN: Get the dirt on soil

SINCE WE TALKED extensively about you growing your own award-winning vegetables, we… Continue reading

ISSUES OF FAITH: Finding solace in song

WHEN OUR DAUGHTER Maggie died, I found so much comfort in listening… Continue reading

OUUF speaker scheduled

The Rev. Bruce Bode will present “Are All Humans… Continue reading

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith.
Unity in Port Townsend planning for Sunday services

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith will present “Love is Orange:… Continue reading

The Rev. Cindy Akana
Program scheduled for OUUF on Sunday

The Rev. Cindy Akana will present “Nurturing Your Inner… Continue reading

Andrew May/For Peninsula Daily News   
Now is the perfect time to lay down some rich, organic compost and rake in a high quality grass seed for a beautiful lawn come summer.
A GROWING CONCERN: Garden chore list grows in spring

SPRING HAS SPRUNG, the grass has risen, now’s the time to get… Continue reading

Some of the evidence recovered when they were arrested.
BACK WHEN: Jail break on the Olympic Peninsula

THE STORIES OF life and crime can take many twists and turns.… Continue reading

ISSUES OF FAITH: Be a bastion of truth against the onslaught of lies

“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth… Continue reading

Weekend hybrid program planned

Ari Ostlie will present “The Wealth of Spirit” at… Continue reading