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Woodpeckers are a fairly common sight in North America, and their persistent tapping is unmistakable. Woodpeckers aren't terribly picky about where they peck; the wooden sides of your neighbor's garage is suitable, as far as the birds are concerned. But when it's time to turn in for the night and find a home, these noisemakers have more specific preferences.
Woodpeckers, like all birds, feel more comfortable in a home suited to their sizes and their nesting needs. The woodpeckers' home will be taller than it is wide and will be constructed of cedar or rough-hewn plywood, which will allow the birds to easily grip the structure and maneuver the entryway. The male chooses a home, and the female taps her approval. Your task is to provide a home they'll both recognize is suitable.
A Cut Above
A basic woodpecker house requires 6 pieces of rough-hewn wood with a thickness of 1/2 inch. The two sides will require the most intricate cutting, as the back will be higher than the front to allow for the pitch of the roof. The side pieces will be 6 inches wide and will measure 14 3/4 inches in the back, sloping to 13 3/4 inches in the front. A 6-by-6-inch square will serve as the bottom, and a square of 9 1/4 inches will be the roof. The front will measure 14 inches by 7 1/4 inches, and the back 17 inches by 7 1/4 inches. Once your wood is cut, you're almost ready to assemble.
Made to Order
Prior to assembly, make certain to sand your panels to avoid any rough edges or splinters that may cause injury. Two inches down from the top of the front panel, create a round hole 1 1/2 inches across for the entryway, using a drill or keyhole saw. Drill a small hole 2 inches from the top of the back panel that will facilitate attaching the house to a tree. Wood screws or galvanized nails 1 1/2 inches in length will make suitable fasteners for the panels. Secure the front and back to the sides, and add the bottom using the fasteners. Attach the roof with a small hinge or two. This will allow for easy housekeeping.
It isn't enough to create an appealing woodpecker home. Once your pecking friend arrives, she'll want something to fuss with. Fill the house with wood shavings before hanging it to serve this need. Sawdust is suitable in dryer climates, but excessive rainwater can quickly turn this to mush. Once it's ready, hang the woodpecker house 12 to 20 feet above ground, as a high perch keeps these birds a safe distance from predators. There isn't any guarantee that even the perfect house will draw a woodpecker to your backyard aviary, but creating a house in a functional size for these fascinating birds is a terrific first step.
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