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Click to go to Audubon Society of Omaha Home Page Audubon Society of OmahaEastern Bluebird

Welcome to The Bluebird Box since 1995
Best of Bluebird Mailing Lists Classified

Nestboxes (Cedar)

In addition to Messages that have appeared in the Bluebird Mailing Lists on this topic, the following are on the Audubon Society of Omaha website: 

Subj: Fw: Plicatic Acid, Tree Swallows
Date: 9/24/99 9:50:24 AM Central Daylight Time
From: springer"at"alltel.net (Gary Springer)

----- Original Message -----
From: Gary Springer
To: Craig Tufts
Sent: Friday, September 24, 1999 8:11 AM
Subject: Plicatic Acid, Tree Swallows


To Mr. Craig Tufts,
Chief Naturalist,
National Wildlife Federation

Dear Mr. Tufts

I received your comments regarding the web page for Real Bird Homes.  

I am very pleased to have received your attention. It not only gives me an opportunity to show how excellent our product is, but also the chance to enroll help in our effort to save birds from the totally unnecessary risk of plicatic acid poisoning.

I will first answer your concern regarding Real Bird Homes impact on Tree Swallows. I will also introduce you to some of the evidence that leads me to believe that no warm blooded animal should spend the first several weeks of its life inside a small cedar box sitting in the sun.

You wrote, " please provide a solution for tree swallow nesting given your box designs; this species prefers and may suffer or die if distance from nest hole to bottom is great than 4"."

First, the depth of our standard nest box design is exactly as suggested for Bluebirds by the North American Bluebird Society(NABS), National Audubon Society and several state wildlife commissions. I believe you will find that the most frequently recommended depth calls for a distance of 6.5 inches between the center of the hole and the inside floor.

That is the depth of a standard Real Bird Home. When confronted with determining the depth of a nest box, however, most people measure from the center of the hole to the bottom of the front panel of the box. If this distance is 6.5 inches, the inside floor is actually only about 5 inches below the center of the hole because such a measurement does not account for the thickness of the floor or any recess. We believe the birds are safer in a box that meets the NABS depth requirement. That is why the text of our site says" Please do not set out a bird house if the distance from the center of the hole to the bottom of the front is less than 7 inches".

It appears to me that the majority of bird houses being marketed on the internet are far too shallow. Many are only an inch to three inches deep. If folks would just stop setting out these shallow boxes, our efforts will be a success.

Second, I am sure you are aware that Bluebirders successfully fledge huge numbers of Tree Swallows every year in nest boxes designed for Bluebirds that are between 6" and 7" deep. In fact many serious Bluebirders pair their nest boxes to provide housing for the Tree Swallow in order to reduce competition for nesting sites for Bluebirds. Despite thousands upon thousands of successful fledges of Tree Swallows in Bluebird spec nest boxes, the only reports I have heard of Tree Swallows dieing in nest boxes met their fate in PVC boxes with slippery, smooth interiors.

Which leads to why Real Bird Homes are a superior nest box, even for Tree Swallows. The vast majority of commercial nest boxes are constructed using smooth planed lumber. Real Bird Homes follow the recommendation of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and are built of extremely course unplaned saw mill lumber. If Tree Swallows are able to climb out of and fledge successfully from standard Bluebird spec nest boxes made from smooth planed lumber, they will love the course texture of a Real Bird Home.

I know you want to help our wild birds as much as I. Ridding backyards and bluebird trails of cedar nest boxes is something that you are in a position to expedite. I say expedite because there is no doubt it will happen. It is just a matter of time.

Who ever would have believed in 1940 that the United States Government would some day sue the Tobacco industry because of the harmful affect of tobacco on human's health? Why did it take centuries for us to determine the detrimental affect of tobacco on our own species?

May I suggest it is because of the time lag between the first use of tobacco and any resultant disease? What happens is that the effects linger for years until a slow agonizing death results. Plicatic acid induced asthma in humans is similar in that the condition worsens over time, even years after removing it from the afflicted persons environment.

Yes, Bluebirds fledge from cedar boxes. No, there is no obvious clue that the birds are harmed. But then again, did you ever see someone fall over dead after lighting up a cigarette? Quite the contrary. Some of the fittest of human specimens, our best athletes, smoked.

More and more pet stores and breeders are discontinuing the use of cedar chips for bedding materials because plicatic acid is poisonous to warm blooded animals.

You said, "Most quality bird houses may be made of western redcedar, a very different tree than used in fabricating cedar chests."

I believe most cedar chests are constructed using the more aromatic Eastern Redcedar(Juniperus virginiana). Ironically, Western Red Cedar(Thuja plicata), the material used to construct the "quality bird houses" you referred to has the highest plicatic acid content of all cedar species.

As indicated in the third paragraph, I did not intend on giving you the information necessary to make an informed decision on whether or not cedar should be discontinued as a nest box material in one writing. I believe I have, however, given you enough information to show some serious homework needs to be done on this subject. In my opinion though, enough homework has already been done on another warm blooded species, the human, to draw the proper conclusion. You need only dig it up from medical, biological, and scientific text and relate it to our warm blooded feathered friends.

I am looking forward to hearing your response to this Message.

Sincerely,

Gary Springer,
Real Bird Homes www.realbirdhomes.com


Subj: pondering cedar
Date: 9/26/99 9:38:09 AM Central Daylight Time
From: kridler"at"1Starnet.com (Keith & Sandy Kridler)

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant Texas with beautiful soft rain clicking on the metal roof..

Yes we have raised thousands nay hundreds of thousands of bluebirds in Western Cedar nestboxes. No matter what conclusion we come to on this list it will remain the wood of choice by most commercial box builders because of the durability and workability of the wood. As for the Wal-Mart boxes in my area they are 3/8" thick aromatic cedar (not western cedar) with a multi slat roof, bottom is removed to clean out the old nests and have no ventilation...

A little more history on NABS: I began writing and warning about the ability of European Starlings to enter the Peterson oval Entrance hole of 1&3/8"X2&1/4" over ten years ago and just this last spring Kevin Berner's research of the hole and the use of Starlings using boxes in his area with this size hole has led him to begin altering the hole to see if we can exclude them from oval holes. A 1&9/16" round hole will, but how many thousands of boxes will be built again this year with the larger oval hole? History on the Brown-headed Cowbird's use of nestboxes: In the 70's I mentioned that cowbirds were using Eastern Bluebirds as a host species sometimes removing the eggs and replacing them with their own. I was informed that this species could not enter a 1&1/2" hole and who was I, a mere boy, to overrule experts and Dr. Zeleny. I must have incorrectly sized nest box holes....A few years later Dr. Zeleny confirmed two separate nestings with cowbird eggs along his trail in boxes with the correctly sized 1&1/2" round hole. So now it is a fact that cowbirds can use standard bluebird nestboxes.

I don't think we need to panic over the cedar issue but we do need to be well informed which is why I am so proud of the people on this "enlightened" list. Is there a test or LD-50 (lethal dose which kills 50% of a given target species) for this threat? Common sense tells me that lead was safe to use in water pipes, paint, gasoline ETC. for years before tests and knowledge was gained about it and I even had a whole collection of lead solders handed down to me to play with...I don't know of anyone who died of lead poisoning but it does ruin brain cells. The Cedar wood industry is huge, just like asbestos, tobacco, (sugar and saturated fats kill more people than smoke will they be sued next?) what about the link between aluminum cookware and altzheimers?

Bluebirds have a different life from humans but they depend more on their lungs than we do. Few athletes could compete in a race with breathing problems without the use of drugs to aid them. I would like to see everyone do a little research on this and if Gary would be the recipient of web sites on this research and have available a list of these sites that others forward to him so that we could pull up the best information and decide for ourselves. I have found that doing a search on the exact same topic a week later pulls up completely different sites and often I cannot find what I was working on... I prefer to make decisions that effect life and death issues (even with my birds) on my own and not wait for the government or the or the industry to tell me if their product is still safe. Government's tend to be more driven by money and industry by profits. KK


Subj: Re: Cedar nestboxes
Date: 9/26/99 9:50:04 AM Central Daylight Time
From: springer"at"alltel.net (Gary Springer)

Dear Erv,

If cedar nest boxes had caused asthma type conditions in 35 % of the Bluebird chicks fledged in the 30,000 cedar nest boxes you referred to, and shortened their reproductive capacity, how would your experience have revealed this to you?

Gary Springer

PS Before anyone jumps up and says how do I know this is the case, I don't. I just know that there is a chance because cedar as well as hundreds of poisons have these types of lingering effects. Its a risk I am not willing to be responsible for when there are other safer materials other than cedar.

There are times in life when your reasoning must out weigh your experience. Because our experience can not possibly reveal side effects such as asthma, sub par health or shortened life span in these birds, we must rely on our reason.

We as conservationists and ecologists should understand this if anyone does.  If a corporation starts dumping a new obviously poisonous substance into lakes and streams, are we going to buy into the argument that the dumping should continue until some scientific study proves there will be long term effects to the dumping of this new chemical?

Gary Springer



From: Ervin Davis
Sent: Sunday, September 26, 1999 7:58 AM
Subject: Cedar nestboxes


I'm not certain as to whether or not to even respond to the
anti-CEDAR nestbox issue, but here goes anyway. I'm far enough
away to take the heat!
Guess I'm missing the boat, somehow. Since 1976, Art Aylesworth
and Duncan Mackintosh had been assembling and distributing
nestboxes made of CEDAR to folks with trails and have shown
remarkable success with assisting in increasing the numbers of
BLUEBIRDS. Over the past 20+ years, MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD TRAILS,
INC. has provided over 30,000 (yes, thirty thousand) CEDAR
nestboxes and has found no evidence of dying BLUEBIRDS due to the
use of the CEDAR nestboxes. Predation and inclement weather are
the most prevelant.
NABS recommends the use of CEDAR, along with PVC pipe, etc. It
seems odd to me that just recently there is discussion about
BLUEBIRDS dying because of the use of CEDAR nestboxes. Where have
all you anti-CEDAR folks been for the past umteen years? We'll
continue to use CEDAR as long as the fledging success continues to
be enlightening.

Erv Davis (MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD TRAILS, INC.) Montana

Subj: Re: The Cedar Question
Date: 9/26/99 1:29:13 PM Central Daylight Time
From: springer"at"alltel.net (Gary Springer)

Dear Fread,

Thank you for contributing to the work of gathering evidence about the toxic effects of cedar. I will be accumulating all evidence we can gather on this issue, pro and con.

As yet, I am not sure of the means by which it will be posted but I will log the study you referenced along with all other sources submitted. I will then post periodically about the progress being made on the body of information being accumulated.

I hope you don't draw your conclusions too rapidly.

Sincerely,

Gary Springer



From: Fread Loane
Sent: Sunday, September 26, 1999 1:33 PM
Subject: The Cedar Question

I have now spent nearly four hours on researching "plicatic acid" and "occupational asthma" and call Gary Springer's attention to David I. Berstein's book A Primer on Allergic and Immunological Diseases, Fourth Edition. In Chapter 12, titled "Allergic Reactions to Workplace Allergens" and I quote: "To date more than 240 substances have been identified as specific causes in Occupational Asthma in industrial settings........... Plicatic acid, an organic acid in red cedar wood dust causes Occupational Asthma in 5% of sawmill workers."

The above was found in The Journal of the American Medical Association Library; Vol. 278; pp1907-1913, December 10, 1997.

Note the key words "industrial settings" and "red cedar wood dust". Industrial settings would be indicative of sawmills or places where a great amount of sawing, sanding etc. is taking place. Plicatic acid is most prevalent in the 'heartwood' or the most red wood of cedar--calling attention to "red cedar wood dust". In those conditions 5% of the millworkers complained of Occupational Asthma. This means that 95% of those men showed no symptoms.

With this information, I am of the opinion to see little or no reason not to use cedar wood in nestbox construction.
Fread J. Loane
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Subj: Cedar and PVC
Date: 9/26/99 1:46:16 PM Central Daylight Time
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu (BLUEBIRD-L)

Chris Statton
Cochranton, NW PA

Raising the question of the safety/hazard of cedar nestboxes has raised some extremely interesting and educational discussion. It has also drawn in a question of safety of pine boxes. Strictly personal musing, by no means researched, but since at least Eastern Bluebirds often use pine needles for nesting materials which would nestle their eggs, altricial hatchlings, and babies directly in a pine environment, I could not help but question that she would cause Bluebirds to have such a nesting instinct if pine truly were a hazard to them. Perhaps nature knows of some benefit her natural toxin provides to bluebirds that we humans have not yet discovered.

I couldn't help seeing the way the subject of cedar hazard was raised as being a commercial for a particular website selling PVC boxes. If we are going to consider potential toxic effects, I think it would also be appropriate to consider the carcinogenic dioxin emitted in the manufacture of PVC. Evidently, it is considered so serious in Europe that at least several of the European countries are working toward 100% prohibition on its manufacture within their boundaries. Denmark has already attained this goal and Germany and Austria are quite near it. Because of the toxic effects of manufacture of PVC, Volkswagen has totally eliminated PVC from its cars. I noticed the subject was raised in a response to the National Wildlife Federation - an organization which is quite strongly on record as opposing the manufacture of PVC because of its highly carcinogenic effects: "PVC (poly vinyl chloride) is produced from imported, non-renewable fossil fuels and lethal chlorine gas. Production involves transport of dangerous explosive materials and the creation of toxic waste. Additives like heavy metals or plasticizers needed for various applications of PVC can be carcinogenic or otherwise harmful, particularly when plasticizers evaporate or leach into food. In the production or incineration of PVC, chlorine reacts with other chemicals to form unwanted by-products like dioxin, PCBs, hexachlorobenzene, acidic gases, and others. PVC cannot be effectively recycled because of its different chemical additives. If landfilled, it eventually releases its additives, threatening ground water. Fires and incinerators cause the release of PVC's toxic chemicals such as dioxin." http://www.nwf.org/water/facts/cwapvc.html

The whole subject or toxic woods and plastics has been extremely informative. Thank you, Gary. In searching toxic wood, I stumbled upon a chart listing 30 or so woods and showing all of them have some toxic effects on humans. The chart does, indeed, show western red cedar as having toxic effects to human. But says it is from the sawdust, leaves and bark - not the wood itself. Depending upon which "pine" is used, some have toxic potentials from the wood itself, others from the dust, leaves and bark. http://www.oneida-air.com/toxic.htm
 

Subj: OK
Date: 9/26/99 3:25:35 PM Central Daylight Time
From: springer"at"alltel.net (Gary Springer)

Dear List members

I have been a little tough on this cedar issue because it is a subject no one normally ever considers but about which I feel strongly. After it got started, I wanted to make an impact.

It is actually easier and less expensive to construct cedar boxes, not to mention how much easier it is to market them.

Therefore, cedar nest box production is much more profitable. That's why the major nest box producers are in business providing cedar nest boxes.

But, my convictions prevent me from taking this easier road.

I wanted others to think about it and I appreciate the forum you provided for me to do that.

Thank you.
Very Sincerely,
Gary Springer


Subj: Cedar Nestboxes
Date: 1/20/00 8:51:10 PM Central Standard Time
From: country.potter"at"dlcwest.com (Karyn Mossing)

Hi everyone!

Just saw lots of great information on the list about types of rough sawn lumber to use to build nest boxes. We are building a variety of nest boxes from rough slab cedar. Lots of it still has bark so the finished product looks very natural. Our flicker box looks simply huge and it I'm sure the Flicker will look twice to see that it isn't a real tree. Our slabs range from 1/2" to 1 1/4" so they are very sturdy and should last a very long time!

Karyn
Moose Jaw, SK Canada
(still cold!)


Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2000 17:17:06 -0600
From: "Christine Scheeler" ChristyS"at"LearnQuick.Com
Subject: RE: box plans

what's wrong with using cedar for bird houses? I just cut out all my wood for the houses and I wouldn't want to do anything that's  dangerous for the birds

-Christy ...


Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 18:13:52 -0500
From: "Randy W Moore" moorefam"at"bpsinet.com
Subject: Cedar is as Caustic as Cigarettes ?

Shame on those folks who lead this lady to feel compelled to apologize for mentioning any given topic. Kindness never hurt anybody. Cabin fever seems to have not brought out the best of our traits.

The comparison between cedar bird boxes and cigarette dangers inspired the following inane tale. Please remember the first liar doesn't stand a chance.

An old timer once told us while out on the bluebird trail not to worry nor to be faint of heart 'cause "our bluebirds are so tough they use their tail feathers to light their match as they take a smoke break, unfiltered Lucky Strikes seems to be the brand of choice.

Randy
Marion, IN

...


Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 15:41:06 -0800 (PST)
From: Sandy Pasquariello sandy_flowers"at"yahoo.com

Subject: Re: Cedar/Plicatic acid poison

Wendy, this is Sandy, I only had l baby all summer out of my cedar box. Two other eggs did not hatch. Sandy


Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 21:50:08 -0500
From: "Patricia Haught" phaught"at"dellnet.com
Subject: Cedar/Plicatic acid poison (Sandy & Gary)

Wendy, Sandy, and Gary,

I've been following the discussion about cedar and noted this most recent posting. We have a couple of cedar boxes. In one of them, a pair raised 6 chicks which fledged without problem. Wrens destroyed eggs the second time. In the other box, another pair raised two broods of 4; all fledged. We've had bluebirds in these boxes every year since 1996. Patty Haught, Fairview, WV

Subject: Re: Cedar/Plicatic acid poison

Wendy, this is Sandy, I only had l baby all summer out
of my cedar box. Two other eggs did not hatch. Sandy


Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2000 07:17:42 -0800
From: "W.Guglieri" wendyg"at"jps.net
Subject: nestboxes...

From Wendy Guglieri in Rescue, California

It's happened! The God's have smiled on me, and are sending Hatch Graham my way with all the nest boxes I need for my 2 new trails! He called today, and is going to pick up 100 boxes (not all mine, but I'll have plenty for my needs) from some kind soul who has made them. No, not cedar - redwood. Just happens that's what the man uses in construction.

I have 6 of them already, very nicely made - NABS side-opening. So now all I need is to get them all put up! I'm definitely a happy camper...

wg


Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 18:06:13 -0600
From: Colleen Forster
Subject: cedar boxes

Hello Bluebirders,

I am very new to your list and have been following the cedar box debate. I have to say that the issue here is NOT weather the eggs will hatch but rather what will be the possible impact on the birds that use thses boxes at some distant time.

I am a histotechnologist and am exposed to many chemicals everyday. Presently alot of them are not considered "hazardous" to my health but as we in this field have found out alot of the chemicals that were not hazardous to us years ago are now considered very dangerous.

I believe the point that Gary and others is trying to make is that we really don't know how the acid in cedar may affect these birds and wouldn't it be smarter to be proactive not retroactive? If people have found a source for free scraps of cedar in their area is there not another wood working company that has free scaps of, say, oak? I guess it would be worth the little bit of extra time to research just a bit more......for the birds".

Colleen Forster
Balsam Lake, WI


Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 18:02:10 -0800 (PST)
From: Sandy Pasquariello
Subject: Re: cedar boxes

Hi, Colleen, Sandy, in SC I am wondering what expert we could call to determine the safety of cedar. Would we call a chemist? Surely there is someone who could give us a FINAL ANSWER.


Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 01:29:17 -0600
From: "Bruce Johnson"
Subject: Re: cedar

Hello again Gang:

As many of you know I recently sold my company http://www.luckypenny.com so I'm not trying to commercialize by this or any other of my posts. The views I
will express here are from years of personal experience with working with cedar. I do not intend to try to persuade anyone's opinion as to whether to use cedar or not.

After years of being exposed to the dust from this material, and I really abused it, I developed respiratory problems like asthma. If I wear a good, (not one of those cheap lightweight masks,) religiously I can still work with this material without problems. Any wood dust or foreign materials we breathe into our lungs has the potential of creating problems. When using power tools that generate fine dust, a mask is a good idea.

Being inside a van load of cedar products even in the summer heat does not create any problem for me as long as I do not create dust from these objects by blowing them off or shaking out boxes Ect. After a product has thoroughly lost all it's original tree moisture, lead me to believe the amount of fumes given off is negligible.

Now it is just breathing the dust and not the odors that create problems for me. I think the word fumes is not an accurate description. My experience has been that once the product is exposed to the weather, the odor becomes almost non-existent.

Even if we agree that we have no way of knowing there will be absolutely no harm to occupants of products made from this material due to fumes/odors, we should factor in the fact that western cedar is more porous and has better insulating qualities that less porous woods. Nesting boxes constructed from this material are cooler than those made of pine. If we are going to split hair, do we want to lose the fledglings to excess heat or to assumed fumes.

I doubt that either of the above makes any appreciable difference. The most important thing is to locate the boxes safely and monitor them. Use whatever wood you have at hand, the blues will appreciate anything you provide them with.

Best regards,

Bruce Johnson ~ Life Mbr. NABS
2795 Long Oak Drive
Germantown (South Western Tennessee)
901-755-6842

...
 

Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2000 23:39:45 -0800 (PST)
From: Horace Sher
Subject: Fwd: Re: Cedar for bird houses?

To everyone.. This is the response I got from the Cornell lab about cedar when I asked them. Am forwarding to everyone( please excuse any redundancy) even though Mrs. Scriven has sent us her very informative response. AMEN! Horace in the Durhan/Chapel Hill area

Tina Phillips wrote:
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 09:26:33 -0600
To: Horace Sher
Subject: Re: Cedar for bird houses?

Hi Horace,

Untreated red cedar is an excellent wood for nest box construction. The only precaution I would suggest is to not use cedar shavings as nesting material, as they do contain oils which can irritate the nestlings' skin. Hope that answers your question.

Think spring,

Tina Phillips

At 05:47 PM 02/09/2000 -0800, you wrote:
Hi, Tina. Horace in NC. I don't know if you got my other email question about cedar.. so I'm going to send you another one using Yahoo to make sure. May I please have an answer to this question. Does natural cedar wood have any kind of toxins or poisons that will be harmful to any birds, especially bluebirds when used as bird houses, feeders, etc? Would any of your bird scientists know anything about this? I know there's different cedar, some of which have mild odors, & some that don't. Someone on the list says cedar contains plicatic acid & this makes cedar harmful. Many other people say no & everything I've ever read say cedar is good to use mainly because of its anti-rot properties. Has there ever been any study or studies trying to find out what trees Bluebirds mostly nest in such as pines, cedar, oaks, etc?? Thanks very much. Horace in NC.


Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 13:08:25 -0800 (PST)
From: Horace Sher hjsher1"at"yahoo.com
Subject: Fwd: Bird Houses

Hi Jeff. I don't think I'll have any problems of this sort, since my boxes have been out a while.. but I'm forwarding your informative response to everyone as there may be other new people that can learn from the information in your response. Thanks very much... Horace in NC.

Jeff Johnston MontyBurns"at"bigfoot.com wrote:

Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 04:03:51 -0800
From: Jeff Johnston
To: Hjsher1"at"yahoo.com
Subject: Bird Houses

Horace--

I wouldn't worry about bird houses made of cedar if the wood isn't freshly milled. If the bird house has been constructed more than a few months before the birds move in, the high level of volatiles from the wood should be reduced greatly. Most of the papers on the toxic effects of cedar and pine are from being exposed to freshly cut wood or wood shavings and sawdust, which has an enormous amount of surface area compared to wood boards. The extra surface area releases far more volatiles.

If you're concerned about possible respiratory problems from cedar bird houses, allow the bird houses to weather in the sun for a month or so. Position it so the sun can shine inside the nest area but allow for rain to escape. I wouldn't put it anyplace where it could fill with water, or you might encourage fungi to invade the wood. (Even though it's rot resistant, if cedar is waterlogged you encourage fungi.)

Any nesting box that's already been used to rear previous clutches of young should be safe since enough time has passed for the wood to release most of the volatiles.

I hope this helps.

--Jeff


Date: Fri, 06 Apr 2001 19:27:58 -0400
From: "v. m. straus" v.m.straus"at"mail.wdn.com
Subject: Help: Using Cedar for Bird Boxes

I've just come from a web site (which sells pine blue bird boxes), which categorically states that cedar should *not* ever be used for bird boxes. Of course, I read that after mounting a bird box just last week.

The literature at that site states that cedar fumes kill or maim both adult and baby birds.

Does anyone out there have any reliable information on the subject -- or opinions? I don't want to hurt the birds here, but I not only built one out of western red cedar, but I have others that I bought commercially which are made out of cedar.

Thanks for any help. VMS


Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 17:56:51 -0700
From: "Dusty Bleher" dusty"at"fsinc.com
Subject: Re: Using Cedar for Bird Boxes

It's just "opinion", don't worry about it...enjoy your cedar box.

Dusty
San Jose, Ca.



From: "v. m. straus" v.m.straus"at"mail.wdn.com
Sent: Friday, April 06, 2001 16:27
Subject: Help: Using Cedar for Bird Boxes

I've just come from a web site (which sells pine blue bird
boxes), which categorically states that cedar should *not* ever
be used for bird boxes.  ...


Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 20:14:37 -0700
From: "judymellin" judymellin"at"netzero.net
Subject: Re: Help: Using Cedar for Bird Boxes

When in doubt, go to the experts! From the Cornell Nestbox handbook, pg 1.4:

"Pine and cedar are both popular woods for building nestboxes. Redwood is a good choice if you can find it. White and yellow pine are commonly used, as are red and white cedar. Both types of pine are commonly used for framing new houses and the cedar is a popular choice for house siding."

So, if Cornell recommends it, I think we can enjoy all of our cedar boxes! I know I LOVE mine and hope the blues will, too!

Judy Mellin
NE IL.



From: v. m. straus v.m.straus"at"mail.wdn.com
Sent: Friday, April 06, 2001 4:27 PM
Subject: Help: Using Cedar for Bird Boxes

I've just come from a web site (which sells pine blue bird
boxes), which categorically states that cedar should *not* ever
be used for bird boxes. Of course, I read that after mounting a
bird box just last week.

The literature at that site states that cedar fumes kill or maim
both adult and baby birds.

Does anyone out there have any reliable information on the
subject -- or opinions? I don't want to hurt the birds here,
but I not only built one out of western red cedar, but I have
others that I bought commercially which are made out of cedar.

Thanks for any help. VMS


Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 22:24:56 EDT
From: Birderinkansas"at"aol.com
Subject: Re:cedar boxes

I, too have heard that. The reasoning was always cedar repels bugs & such with natural chemicals. I think the big deal is with the cedar & pine chips for small animals, some chemicals added which make it hard on the lungs. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm sure cedar wood is fine. I imagine the birds aren't too picky in the wild if they find a good, hollow cedar tree.

James Y.
Washington, KS
please visit http://www.geocities.com/rnrjunk/Home.html Birds In Spring!
I welcome all input from you guys!


Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 21:33:56 -0500
From: "Dan McCue" dmccue"at"usit.net
Subject: Re: Using Cedar for Bird Boxes

Greetings all - If you sold pine Bluebird boxes, wouldn't you try to discredit cedar? I've probably made over 1000 western red cedar boxes and I've read all the pros & cons about the cedar boxes and use them exclusively on my 145 box trails. Fledged over 819 young from them last year. When the fledglings left the boxes, that I observed, they were not handicap as to flying ability nor were their parents. That is my only recommendation. Enjoy your Bluebird cedar box and don't worry anymore about it. There seems to be something wrong about anything in this world. Loving the Blues. Dan McCue in Camden, TN. 75 miles due west of Nashville on the Tennessee River in West TN.
Member of NABS, TN Audabon Society.
President of Benton County Bluebird Society
of TN, Inc.



From: "v. m. straus" v.m.straus"at"mail.wdn.com
Sent: Friday, April 06, 2001 6:27 PM
Subject: Help: Using Cedar for Bird Boxes

I've just come from a web site (which sells pine blue bird
boxes), which categorically states that cedar should *not* ever
be used for bird boxes. Of course, I read that after mounting a
bird box just last week.

The literature at that site states that cedar fumes kill or maim
both adult and baby birds.

Does anyone out there have any reliable information on the
subject -- or opinions? I don't want to hurt the birds here,
but I not only built one out of western red cedar, but I have
others that I bought commercially which are made out of cedar.

Thanks for any help. VMS


Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 22:46:22 -0400
From: "Fawzi P. Emad femad <at> fpemad <dot> com
Subject: Re: Using Cedar for Bird Boxes

Hello all. I build all my boxes, though sometimes I buy some to see how well they are made. I use both pine and cedar, and I have found a neat way to combine the two.

First of all, cedar is an irritant to humans, and while cutting or sanding western red cedar, one must take care not to inhale the dust. It can cause irritation and an allergic reaction in most people. Avoid it by wearing a mask and run a vacuum to collect the sawdust.

Now here is my solution. Those who do not compromise will dislike it, but I love it:

I make the house of pine, except the roof I make of cedar. Reason: cedar is excellent outdoor wood, it is oily and takes the sun and rain very well, no other finish is needed. No fumes come from the roof, it is well vented...

The rest of the house I make of pine. Reason: pine is less expensive in my area, and in case there is merit to cedar toxicity, then pine is safer where the birds are.

Actually, as KK mentioned earlier, the degree of venting we provide in our nestboxes is so great that the air is moving all the time, and there is little chance the adult and baby birds will get any of the fumes (if they exist.) As most of us have noticed, the smell and fumes diminish quickly with time, and they cease to exist unless the wood is cut fresh again. Many birds fledged successfully in boxes I have which were made entirely from western red cedar. Using both cedar and pine to best advantage is a good way. If you have only one or the other, I'd say go ahead and use it...

This is my opinion, and I have been a woodworker for over 30 years! I must admit, the facts I present are not backed by any scientific testing, just my
opinions...

Fawzi from MD



From: "v. m. straus" v.m.straus"at"mail.wdn.com
Sent: Friday, April 06, 2001 7:27 PM
Subject: Help: Using Cedar for Bird Boxes

---snip---
Does anyone out there have any reliable information on the
subject -- or opinions? I don't want to hurt the birds here,
but I not only built one out of western red cedar, but I have
others that I bought commercially which are made out of cedar.

Thanks for any help. VMS


Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 22:21:15 -0500
From: "K.W. and Shelly Harris" eaglflyt"at"telepath.com
Subject: Feathered nest update

Dear Fellow Bluebirders,
I have prepared a chronological pictorial of our EABL couple's nest building efforts over the past two days. Yes, the female has definitely added feathers. We have seen her enter with feathers (home grown from our ducks on the front pond) many times today. We also managed to get candid shots of Mrs. EABL with her beak full of feathers! She looked like she had a wild, handlebar mustache. Our daughter gets today's photo credits. She quietly went out and stood between two trees near the nest box and took pictures. If you would like me to e-mail you this pictorial (now arranged chronologically...total of 6 pictures), just e-mail me and I will send it right away. The pictures include the male EABL perched atop the nestbox, nest progress inside the nestbox yesterday, nest progress inside the nestbox this morning, then the female EABL with her feathers in her beak in a tree and on her nestbox.

It was suggested that we post the pictures to our website on a Bluebird page. What a great idea! (Thanks, Barry!) Our son takes care of this for us, so we're planning on getting the pictures up this Sunday afternoon. I'll let everyone know when they are up. And, of course, we will keep following the progress of this EABL couple, and hopefully their clutch! We're hoping for eggs sometime next week!
Sincerely,
Shelly in Norman, OK

Shelly Harris
Eagle Flight Morgan Horse Farm
e-mail: eaglflyt"at"telepath.com
website: www.eagle-flight.com


Date: Sat, 7 Apr 2001 00:33:01 -0400 (EDT)
From: Barry Whitney barryw"at"therock.mcg.edu
Subject: Cedar, 2001 Re: Help: Using Cedar for Bird Boxes

On Fri, 6 Apr 2001, judymellin wrote:

When in doubt, go to the experts! From the Cornell Nestbox handbook, pg
...
"Pine and cedar are both popular woods for building nestboxes.

"Popular" is NOT the same as "safe." There are many citations on plicatic acid, one of the toxic compounds found in cedar. The webpage at http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/1765/bluebird/plicaticacid.htm has links to 38 medical references and 56 web references about plicatic acid, plus links to search engines so you can do your own current searches. Plicatic acid is a natural compound in cedar wood. It is NOT added after woodcutting. Cedar is used for cedar chests and dog bedding for a good reason: it kills small animals (or makes things so unpleasant for them that they will not live there).

Some people have suffered severe debilitating consequences of working with western red cedar. Perhaps these people had a genetic predisposition to such respiratory problems. Most were working in situations where they inhaled lots of red cedar dust. My advice is that you should take every precaution if you woodwork cedar NOT to inhale the dust at all. If you have respiratory problems already (emphysema, asthma, CF, for instance) DO NOT woodwork cedar (or pine either, which also has plenty of aromatic chemicals in it naturally).

If a nestbox still has a strong cedar smell, why not let it age a while before using it. Remember that you may get only a pleasant whiff, but the baby birds will be inhaling it 24 hours a day at a critical stage of their development. It will never be possible to establish a scientific proof that plicatic acid in cedar is dangerous to young bluebirds, but only because it is not possible to set up a definitive, controlled scientific test.

Be conservative. Better safe than sorry. (But DON'T inhale cedar dust yourself.)

Yours, Barry

(I don't sell a lot of nestboxes yet, but as a scientist I did look into the allegations that plicatic acid in cedar is dangerous. There is convincing evidence that it is, at least to some people, very dangerous.)

http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/1765/bluebird/plicaticacid.htm (This page has not been updated recently and undoubtedly many of the links will not work. Rely on a current Google or Medline search.)


Date: Sat, 7 Apr 2001 01:33:38 -0400
From: "Gary Springer" springer"at"alltel.net
Subject: cedar nest boxes

Hello V. M. Strauss,

I strongly agree that cedar should not be used for nest box construction.

Would you please post the url of the web site at which you read " that cedar fumes kill or maim both adult and baby birds" ?

Thanks,

Gary Springer


Date: Sat, 7 Apr 2001 03:25:04 -0400
From: "Gary Springer" springer"at"alltel.net
Subject: cedar nest boxes

For anyone that thinks cedar is more expensive than pine, please give me the telephone number of the Home Depot in your area so I can make arrangements for you to purchase all the cedar boards you want at a lower price than you will be able to purchase yellow pine at the same store.

I've been wondering for a long time why so many more companies are using cedar for nest box construction than those that use pine. The reasons are
beginning to become obvious and it has nothing to do with what is good for the bluebird.

It appears they are using very inexpensive cedar boards that were milled with the intention of being used as siding for homes and apartment complexes. These boards are also marketed as fence boards between 5.75 and 6 inches wide and 5 or 6 feet long. These can be purchased at bargain prices from between $3.00 and $5.00, depending on the season and how badly they want to get rid of the stack of wood that's been taking up space since they got the last batch for practically nothing.

The reason cedar is cheaper is that it can't be used for much other than siding and bird houses. I'm not sure yet but I don't think it can even be used in the manufacture of paper.

The chances are 99 percent or higher that the house you live in is constructed of pine 2 X 4's. Cedar isn't an option because it splits too easily and is not as strong as pine. The demand for pine is always high because it is used for just about everything wood is used for, while cedar is good for just about nothing except ornamental projects like siding, fencing and nest boxes. And apparently they are really pushing it. And it is all about money.

These boards are not only cheaper than pine but it is much lighter so it costs far less to ship the nest box when it is complete. Shipping practically equals, may even exceed the cost of the lumber to make a nest box. Get ready to pay 20 to 30 percent more to ship that strong heavy pine nest box. That would eat up about 15 percent or more of the profit even if they could get yellow pine at the same price as cedar siding.

Ever wonder why China isn't flooding the market with nest boxes like they are everything else? The reason is that the shipping cost will be about as
much or more than they will sell for.

More importantly, I've been wondering for a long time why so many birding organizations continue to show nest boxes in their logo's and advertisements with no over hang on the roof despite the extremely important role overhang plays in keeping the nest box cool in hot weather and dry in wet weather.
Further, most of these cedar nest boxes are ventilation starved because with no overhang on the sides, increasing the ventilation guarantees that rain water will enter the box. Can you name a more important characteristic of a nest box than staying cool in the hot sun and staying dry on rainy days?

When you really understand what makes a good nest box, you will understand that the nest boxes they show in their pictures are far less than ideal. And it now looks to me that the reason they don't want to change our image of a nest box as one with little or no overhang on the sides is that the manufacturers don't care enough about the birds to spend a little more money to use a roof board that is 8 or 10 inches wide. Those darn cheap siding boards are only about 5 and three quarters inch wide but that will just have to do.

Show me a manufacturer that makes a cedar bluebird nest box that has an inside floor of 4" X 5.5" and two inches of overhang on all sides. Sorry, those cheap cedar boards don't come wide enough to build one like that.

Too bad, bluebirds. We have to look at profits.

Gary Springer
www.realbirdhomes.com


Date: Sat, 7 Apr 2001 08:18:51 -0400
From: "Bruce Burdett" blueburd"at"srnet.com
Subject: Hemfir.

Gary, et al,
Here in New England at least, 2x4s, 2x6s, 2x8s, etc. (framing lumber) are never made of pine. It would be far too expensive and not strong enough. White pine is a SOFT wood. All our framing is cut from either hemlock or fir, and is known in the trade as 'hemfir.' I'd be surprised to learn that pine framing is used ANYWHERE anymore. Hard southern yellow pine is often used as a low-price flooring, as a substitute for the costlier oak or maple. I have never made my Bluebird houses of anything but white pine (#2) so I have nothing to say in this cedar debate. If my NABS-style houses are unique in any sense, it is because they are all made of 7/8" lumber, never the flimsier 3/4". They're very rugged and long-lasting. Some have been up for 9 years, year-round.

My very first 'Bluebird' houses, back in the 60s, were made of redwood !!! I made 4 of them, and they all promptly became wren houses because I was so ignorant then. (They were mounted much too close to thickets.) They're still up, after about 35 years, and they're still wren houses. I saw them last fall when we revisited the campus.

Bruce Burdett, NH Bluebird Conspiracy, Sunapee NH
blueburd"at"srnet.com


Date: Sat, 7 Apr 2001 09:19:01 -0400
From: "Fawzi P. Emad femad <at> fpemad <dot> com
Subject: cedar and pine...

Gary, I have to tell you that I make all the roofs from cedar, and I overhang at least 2" on three sides, more on the front. I buy it in 1x12 boards, and they come 16' long! Imagine the size of those trees... But, unlike what you say, it is more expensive than similar size white pine. I cannot find the cedar except at one store (T.W. Perry in our area.) All the Home Depots, and we have about 6 in our area, do not carry cedar, nor do the other lumber yards, except for the thin flimsy fence boards, as you mention. The ones I get are quite nice... and as I said, I use pine for the house and cedar for the roof...

You are right the cheap cedar stuff is not wide enough... but there is the more expensive, wide and quite good cedar too!

Fawzi



From: "Gary Springer" springer"at"alltel.net
Sent: Saturday, April 07, 2001 3:25 AM
Subject: cedar nest boxes

---snip---

The reason cedar is cheaper is that it can't be used for much other than
siding and bird houses. I'm not sure yet but I don't think it can even be
used in the manufacture of paper.

---snip---
Sorry,
those cheap cedar boards don't come wide enough to build one like that.

Too bad, bluebirds. We have to look at profits.

Gary Springer
www.realbirdhomes.com


Date: Sat, 7 Apr 2001 09:39:05 -0400
From: "Gary Springer" springer"at"alltel.net
Subject: Re: Hemfir.

Hi Bruce,

You indicated that in New England, "pine" would be far too expensive to use for structural components of houses and that yellow pine is tough enough to
be used as a flooring alternative to two of the hardwest woods available, oak and maple.

But the fir that you indicated is used in building construction is commonly, and, properly referred to as pine, a word that is used to describe hundreds of species of trees in or related to the genus pinus.

They may call it Hemfir in your neck of the woods, a term I've never heard, but they call it pine everywhere I've ever lived, even those who know it is
more precise to call it fir.

Further, other pines are stronger than the variety of pine you prefer to call fir, and I believe yellow pine is one of them.

And, back to the original point I was making, cedar can't even be included in the discussion of woods suitable for use as 2x4's and 2x6's in structural
construction, and that keeps the demand and prices down.

Gary


Date: Sat, 7 Apr 2001 10:33:45 -0500
From: "Bruce Johnson" bjohnso3"at"midsouth.rr.com
Subject: Cedar nest boxes... long

Snip
For anyone that thinks cedar is more expensive than pine,
please give me the telephone number of the Home Depot in
your area.
Snip

Hello Gary & All:

Gary, man I love you, but unless there has been a drastic change in the lumber market, you need to check your lumber prices and compare apples to apples. If you are right I paid many, many thousands of dollars too much for western cedar. That was after visiting all the larger lumber mills in the northwest and British Columbia.I feel sure what you are referring to is the thin fencing material made of second growth trees. It made be fine for fences, but it is not
suited for nesting boxes.

I agree with you that many boxes are not built to designs that we now believe to be needed to be the best for nesting. Having worked a lot of trade shows where most all the major manufacturers were exhibiting their products, I observed first hand over a few year period that the quality and design of these products improved greatly.

There are dozens of companies out there that are building nesting boxes that have little knowledge of what is needed. Some of them are only interested in the bottom line.

The wide overhang, I'm in total agreement with. That will take some time before the companies go to this design. Only an increase in a proven need, with an increase in sales will bring about building with this design. Three things working against this design are increased shipping and display space problems. Another problem is that the average person will not like the looks of such a product and will buy something more pleasing to their tastes. No matter how good a product you have, unless it sells, no one benefits including the birds.

Personally I think my boxes look strange and downright ugly with the wide tops, but I use them when the temperature is high, because I know this design is better.

It will take an educational process to get both the manufacturers and retailers to go with the wide overhang design. Even with all our help it will not happen
overnight.

Best regards,

Bruce Johnson ~ Life Mbr. NABS
2795 Long Oak Drive
Germantown (extreme southwestern) TN
901-755-6842


Date: Sat, 07 Apr 2001 08:51:21 -0700
From: Ann&Tom Long longann"at"pacinfo.comm
Subject: Re: Hemfir.

, Hemfir is a timber products term for a combination of western hemlock, white fir ,grand fir ,silver fir etc, they call it "white woods." Considered to be
inferior to the number one construction lumber , douglas fir, at least in this area.

Most of the high grade western cedar lumber comes from virgin forests in British Columbia, most of which has been cut or protected in the US. Its used
for shingles,shakes siding and is real expensive.

Cedar 2X4's and 2X6's are used all over for decks and outdoor projects and is always priced higher than douglas fir.

Tom Long
Western Oregon east of Springfield

Hi Bruce,

You indicated that in New England, "pine" would be far too expensive to use
for structural components of houses and that yellow pine is tough enough to
be used as a flooring alternative to two of the hardwest woods available,
oak and maple.
...


Date: Sat, 7 Apr 2001 11:55:49 -0400
From: "Bruce Burdett" blueburd"at"srnet.com
Subject: Pine, hemlock, fir, etc.

Gary, et al,
The pine I use for my Bluebird houses is what we call up here White Pine (Pinus strobus.) It's what you get if you go to a lumber yard and just ask for "pine." You won't ever get southern hard pine flooring unless you ask for it specifically, nor will you ever get Hemlock or Fir, neither of which are of the genus 'Pinus.' ....'Pine family' maybe, yes. Genus 'Pinus', no.

The chief commercial use of pine (White Pine) up here is for fine interior finish, never for framing. The best grade is #1 (clear) which has almost no knots. I use #2 for my houses, the same grade with sound knots that is often milled into the so-called "Knotty Pine" interior paneling (sp?). #3 pine has many knots and checks, many of which are not sound. Usually pine is sold in the 3/4" dimension, though the heavier 5/4" is becoming popular for certain purposes.

Most dimension framing lumber sold here(2x4,2x6,2x8,2x10,etc.) is Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), though it often comes mixed with Fir (Abies balsamea), hence the trade name 'hemfir.' I can guarantee that if you buy a 2x4 here it will NOT be pine unless you specify that you WANT it in pine, i.e. White Pine. In most NH yards you can't buy a pine 2x4 unless you have it custom-planed for you from rough stock.

The spruces (Picea), cedars, (Thuja and Juniperus), larches (Larix), and Yews (Taxus) are in another ball-park altogether.  I think this trade-name 'hemfir' is a lot like the trade-name 'scrod' in the fish- market. There's no such fish as a 'scrod.' It's used to refer to a number of white-fleshed fish, usually cod or haddock and usually young.

Bruce Burdett, NH Bluebird Conspiracy, Sunapee NH
blueburd"at"srnet.com


Date: Sat, 7 Apr 2001 12:21:09 EDT
From: Adthomas10"at"cs.com
Subject: Structural cedar

Hi Gary

Concerning cedar, In Pennsylvania cedar IS about money, meaning that cedar is one of the most expensive woods to purchase. I can purchase 3/4 or 5/4
pine, yellow pine, or hem-fir a lot cheaper than cedar is our area. And cedar is available up to a 1x12 which actually measures 11 1/4 inches.

Another correction about cedar, to say that it is used only for ornamental projects like siding, fencing, and nest boxes is NOT correct. IT CAN BE USED STRUCTURALLY, 2x4s, 2x6s or whatever, But most people could not afford it. I work in construction and we are currently building very expensive retirement apartments $300,000.00 plus. They are using 6 x 6 clear cedar post for deck support. And for front porches on the units. I was told a 6x6 x 10 ft. piece of cedar (clear) sells for $120.00. The deck bards are 1x6x5/4 cedar which definitely cost more that the pressure treated yellow pine, that most people use in our area for decks. There are other areas where they are using 1x10 and 1x12 cedar to box in some beams. . . . . I have saved the scraps from that and have made several BB boxes with them.

I don't know enough about the effects of cedar on the Bluebirds to comment on that. (I'm only Bluebirding for 2 yrs.) But if I had a preference, cedar is
a very nice wood to work with as far as sawing, drilling etc.

One of the cheapest types of lumber in our area is "surfaced one side" pine which is available 7/8 thick.

Our Home Depot here in Lancaster does not carry ANY cedar. I asked they why and their response was "We do not have room for it and it is expensive."

Dan Thomas
New Providence PA


Date: Sat, 7 Apr 2001 19:15:37 -0700
From: "judymellin" judymellin"at"netzero.net
Subject: Re: cedar and pine...

Well, folks, I got BEAUTIFUL clear red cedar at my employer, who just happens to be the world's largest home improvement store and it was priced about $2 higher per board than similar sized white pine. But the difference is SO much more than the price!

When we were replacing the old boxes on Wednesday, I could not keep from running my hands over the roofs and sides. My fellow volunteer who built
the boxes (and who is a builder) picked cedar when I gave him the recommendations from the Cornell manual. He said, for our climate, this was the best. It certainly is the prettiest!

Now, all of you are saying, "Pretty? Who cares about that?" Well, I do and I think the birds do, too. Whenever we have put up new boxes, those are the
first to be used and the most popular, until we replace some others and then the birds like those. I think it is important to satisfy my aesthetic needs, too, and cedar will likely last longer and remain stronger than many other woods.

I have all Peterson boxes since this is the style I started with when I inherited the trail and we have had excellent results with that style. Since I monitor 600 acres and all the species that inhabit them, I don't have the time to change out boxes and compare styles the way many of you do so I stick with the "tried and true".

I can, though, do something most of you can't and that is measure the effects of burning on choice of boxes. We have boxes on both sides of a horse trail and this is a natural firebreak when we burn. Since I believe that we are now back on a regular burn schedule, I can begin a study that I had planned to do before we were forced to suspend the burns and that is to try to measure whether the birds prefer burned or unburned areas. It will take several years to form any conclusions so stay tuned!

Judy Mellin
NE IL.


Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2001 09:18:15 -0400
From: "Fawzi P. Emad femad <at> fpemad <dot> com
Subject: Fw: Using Cedar for Bird Boxes

I am forwarding this Message to all as Frank probably intended but sent it only to me...

Fawzi

----- Original Message -----
From: "Frank Navratil Sr" frnavrat"at"concentric.net
To: femad"at"comcast.net
Sent: Monday, April 09, 2001 8:32 AM
Subject: Re: Using Cedar for Bird Boxes

from Frank Navratil, North Riverside,IL (suburb of Chicago)

Fawzi and others,
You have a good reason to use cedar on the roof. The roof is usually the
first to disintegrate. An alternate to consider is to form some aluminum
flashing over any roof of any birdhouse. Cheaper than paint in the long
run.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Fawzi P. Emad femad <at> fpemad <dot> com
To: "bbllll" BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Sent: Friday, April 06, 2001 9:46 PM
Subject: Re: Using Cedar for Bird Boxes


---snip---

I make the house of pine, except the roof I make of cedar. Reason: cedar
is
excellent outdoor wood, it is oily and takes the sun and rain very well, no
other finish is needed. No fumes come from the roof, it is well vented...

---snip---

Fawzi from MD


From: "Ernie Tucker" ernie724"at"citlink.net
Subject: Moving along
Date: Sun, 12 May 2002 13:11:06 -0500

I've been checking our nest box daily since M&FBB decided to check their old box at least once a day. This morning I foiund a layer of grass in the bottom, so I would say they're starting their second nest.

I also put up a new nest box at the other end of the house, facing the back yard, and out of sight of the first house. Distance is about 80 feet. We'll just have to see what happens. A point of interest, I made the box, and when I went to my local lumber store (Lowe's) I found cedar more closely met my needs - and it was about the same price as pine. Also it was rough cut on one side so I could put that rough wood on the inside of the front so the nestlings could climb up to the hole. I used Bruce Burdett's plan with no problems.

Ernie & Jane Tucker
Crossville TN
35.887-85.021
www.jetimaging.com/bluebird_nestlings.htm


From: "Bonnie A. Yeager" dement"at"frognet.net
Subject: For your information
Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2001 07:33:43 -0500

Below is an article I found on the PMCA (Purple Martin Conservation Association) web site.

Fred Yeager
SE, OH
Re: PMCA info about using cedar in Martin houses


From: Louise C louise"at"purplemartin.org Edinboro PA
Date: 5/30/00
Time: 12:16:36 PM

Comments

Here's the Purple Martin Conservation Association's position and history on cedar shavings. The PMCA conducted a four-year study to determine the effects of nest parasites on the reproductive success of Purple Martins. Over the course of the study, 2 identical martin houses placed 15 feet apart were monitored. Each year, one house was treated to remove all parasites from the nests, and the second house was left untreated as a control. The results showed that the treated house fledged almost twice the number of young as the control house. Clearly, one way to help martins was to reduce the number of nest parasites, without exposing the martins and their nestlings to any potentially harmful substances, such as Sevin. (Sevin may work beautifully in the short term in reducing nest parasite populations, but research suggests that its continued use will result in long-term toxicity that may affect breeding success in the birds. In other words, it will get rid of the parasites now, but the birds will suffer from poor reproductive rates later on.) It's important to remember that the goal we all have in mind is to help the martins fledge as many healthy young as possible, not to eliminate every last nest parasite. Lice spend their entire life cycle on the birds; the targets here are fleas, nest mites, blowfly larvae, and bedbugs, all of which take blood meals from the birds, and spend most of their time burrowed down in the nest debris. The simplest and most direct method of controlling nest parasites is nest replacement (removing all nest material about 10 days after young hatch. Replace with bed of clean dry shavings or pine needles. Put nestlings back in nest. This one replacement may be sufficient to knock parasite numbers down for the rest of the nestling period, but in areas where blowflies are a problem, a second replacement when young reach 17-20 days old may be necessary.) The PMCA tested the martins' preference, and found they prefer a compartment or gourd that contains shavings or other nest material to an empty compartment. So the purposes of using cedar shavings are, to provide insulation against cool spring weather, to save the martins time by giving them a prebuilt nest, to repel nest parasites, and to allow for nest parasite control, via nest replacements. The PMCA has used cedar shavings for six years (this will be the seventh year), other landlords (Andy Troyer, for one) for nite years, with 2000 being the tenth year. No ill effects have been observed in the young or adults. Andy did find, however, that cedar shavings significantly reduced blowfly parasitism at his site. We will continue to test cedar shavings, and other types of bedding. For all of the purposes listed above, though, (except parasite repellency) any type of wood shavings will do just as well as cedar. Hardwood shavings, such as aspen or poplar, are suggested by a US Fish & Wildlife health center; shavings from treated lumber and hemlock are toxic to birds, and should not be used. The wildlife health center could not find any data on problems from the use of cedar shavings in bird boxes. Aspen shavings are the only wood shavings product approved by the FDA and EPA for use by humans and animals. EPA data also confirmed that cedar shavings may be effective in repelling blowflies. When questions arose about the safety of cedar shavings for martin nests, we researched the topic as thoroughly as we could. Both the Environmental Protection Agency, and a wildlife toxicologist at the US Fish & Wildlife Lab in Patuxent, MD, found no data showing cedar shavings were toxic or harmful to birds. They commented that the only way to determine toxicity for sure was to do specific tests, exposing Purple Martins to vapors from cedar shavings, then destroying the birds, and analyzing them for signs of reaction to the cedar. No one has done such tests, but they did find cedar listed as being effective as a blowfly repellent. The EPA reported that cedar is exempted from registration as a pesticide as it poses no risk to people or the environment, unlike naphthalene, Sevin, etc. Contrary to what has been published on other forums, Naphthalene (the compound in moth balls) is not a component of cedar shavings. What is found in cedar is Cedrene and Cedrol. Extracts from cedar (and other softwoods, such as pine) are in the broad category of aromatic or volatile compounds such as hydrocarbons (naphthalene, which is classified as a phenol, is also a member, but a distinct compound), cedrene. Symptoms of overexposure to cedar shavings include respiratory tract infections, sneezing, and discharge from eyes/nostrils. We have observed none of these symptoms at the PMCA site, nor have other landlords using cedar reported them Another factor to consider is that we place cedar shavings in compartments in early April, just when the martins are due to return here. By the time the first young hatch in June, and vapors from the shavings have long since evaporated. We have suggested that landlords can use aromatic cedar in the house to begin with, and use other types of shavings, or dried pine needles, for changes after the young have hatched. Nestlings would be more susceptible to any vapors than the adults, so this method would minimize nestling exposure to any irritants from the shavings. But for one-time use early in the season, cedar shavings would be thoroughly aired out by the time the young hatch. But, PMCA research participant Andy Troyer uses fresh aromatic cedar shavings on all his nest replacements, as do other landlords, and have experience very good success rates. Reproductive success and return rates from PMCA-monitored sites strongly suggest that cedar shavings do not cause problems. Used in conjunction with nest replacement at some sites, and with one time use early in the spring at control sites, we have documented 95.5% success rates (hatch to fledge.) This is a statistically significant higher than average success rate for our region. Furthermore, since all nestlings and many adults at PMCA-monitored sites are individually color banded, we have been able to collect data on the survivorship of nestlings returning to their natal area as subadults the following spring. These rates (20-30% of the nestling Purple Martins that we banded are observed back as subadults) also strongly suggest that the use of cedar shavings is not having any ill effects on the birds. The return rate is twice the published norm return rate of banded young to their natal site. Also, throughout their evolutionary history, Purple Martins have nested in cedar trees, preadapting them to any potentially-harmful vapors. It is not a bad thing to be cautious about using new materials or management ideas. Our goal, ultimately, is to impact the martins in a positive way. Based on the data the PMCA has been collecting, using cedar shavings and nest replacement are resulting in higher than average success rates. We will continue to collect information on cedar shavings, and to try new ideas. This year, we are planning to use soft, dried pine needles in 1/2 the compartments, on the recommendation of Dr. Thomas B. Dellinger, who has found they maintain a better nest bowl shape than shavings, and that they drain more quickly after a rain. Offering compartments with both cedar shavings and pine needles will allow the PMCA to compare results, and share them in the Update and other forums for martin enthusiasts.

Louise/PMCA


From: beabud"at"snet.net
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2002 09:34:41 -0500
Subject: Boxes pine or Cedar

what is the best material for boxes...Does pine breathe as well as cedar????


From: beabud"at"snet.net
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2002 15:12:52 -0500
Subject: Pine or cedar

I'm getting confused .Pine i hear is not bug resistant as cedar then i hear that cedar shavings are bad, if thats so, how come cedar houses are good..besides weathering well how can they be good..Then i hear pine has sap...I have the woodlink houses which i find roof is not long enough and the coveside are nice but are made of good pine. I want the best for my bluebirds.


From: "Larry Zapotocky" larryz22"at"hotmail.com
Subject: Re: Pine or cedar
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2002 17:34:31 -0500

I wouldn't worry about the cedar or pine nestbox issue personally.

Last year myself and two others fledged over 120 bluebirds and over 20 tree swallows from both cedar and pine nestboxes. I like the cedar because of what I stated earlier:

1. More user friendly on the woodworking tools (no sap or pitch build up)
2. More resistant to bugs (i.e.- cedar closets)
3. Withstand the outdoors better.

I made a bunch of pine boxes because I didn't have any cedar and I wanted to get them up A.S.A.P. When those pine boxes start to crack and show signs of damage, I will replace them with the cedar boxes.

I have had no problems with cedar hurting the birds.

In my opinion, if you want the best for your birds, go with a cedar house. Cedar shavings are made from aromatic cedar and the cedar you buy at the local home center is not.

Regardless, put a home up for your birds and follow some of the plans on the NABS web site: http://www.nabluebirdsociety.org/ 

Good Luck,
Larry Zapotocky
http://bluebird.htmlplanet.com/larry.htm


Nestboxes (Cedar) Part 2


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