LEWISTON - With many outdoor enthusiasts frustrated by the recent inclement weather, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game encourages them that building a bluebird nesting box can provide a refreshing change and can benefit our small but attractive feathered friends.
"Man-made nest houses can help fill the shortage of natural nest sites, and building one is a perfect winter day project for families, clubs and individuals," said Rita Dixon, IDFG nongame biologist in Lewiston.
Only minimum woodworking skills are needed, and hand tools found in most homes will do the job. However, the project will go a little faster with a power saw and an electric drill.
Materials needed: A 1-by-6 board 5 feet long (rough or unplaned cedar works fine); A handful of 1-3/4 inch galvanized screws; One galvanized nail 1-1/4 inches long plus a small washer to fit it.
The Mountain bluebird, Idaho's State bird, is one of two species of bluebirds that return to Idaho in late February or early March from their southern wintering grounds. The mountain bluebird is larger than the western bluebird, and both are slightly smaller than robins.
Because the bluebird bill is not suited for digging nest cavities, they make their nests in existing cavities, excavated by woodpeckers and other animals. Many trees with suitable nesting holes have been cut for firewood or taken by aggressive non-native species like the European starling and house sparrow, so many bluebirds never find homes.
For more information on bluebirds, including illustrated plans for a nesting box, drop by the Clearwater Region office at 1540 Warner Avenue in Lewiston, and ask for the free pamphlet "Building Homes for Idaho's Bluebirds." A limited supply of nesting boxes is available for a $4.00 donation. All proceeds will be used to improve the wildlife nature area located near the Fish and Game office.