Little Wooden Bird Box

Read about how a low maintenance bird home brightened the backyard of one couple in Illinois.

| January/February 2021

Photo by Adobe Stock/Dssimages

Photo by Adobe Stock/John

Little Wooden Box

My wife, Elsie, and I have been reading Grit for many, many moons­ — even back when it was in newspaper form. We both grew up in rural America on small farms in the late 1940s and ’50s.

For 45 years now, we’ve had a birdhouse in our backyard. It’s about 5 feet off the ground, hanging on an old basketball goal post that’s been there more than 50 years. The birdhouse is just a little box that’s 6 inches wide, 5 inches deep, and 10 inches high. We had to replace the original birdhouse several years ago, because it had deteriorated through many years of weathering. This past spring, I peered in through the small entrance hole of the nesting box and saw five small blue eggs, the first clutch of eggs that year.

Come summer, Elsie and I usually see the male and female bluebirds with their surviving young come up close to our kitchen window in the evening and gather around the birdbath. Once they’ve bathed, the birds flutter off to sit on a perch to dry and preen their feathers.

The perch the birds typically land on is made of prongs used in our backyard for hanging plants. Those prongs came from an old horse-drawn hay rake that Elsie’s grandfather used on his farm in the early 1900s, which was about the same time this bluebird species nearly went extinct. Their extinction was caused in part by pesticides and land-management practices that removed dead tree snags the bluebirds depend on for nesting. The major factor in this species' population recovery has been the establishment of nesting boxes by private landowners.

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