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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) - Part 2

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: 

From: "BONNIE A. YEAGER" dement"at"frognet.net
To: bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Cedar
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2002 15:47:45 -0400

If you want some information about the impact of cedar wood on cavity nesting birds, go the following web address: www.forum.purplemartin.org/forum/  . Click on Archives, scroll down to the Management category, and click on the title, "Using Cedar in Purple Martin Nest Cavities".
I think you will find this reference informative.

Fred Yeager,
SE, OH


Date: Thu, 01 Aug 2002 18:40:18 -0700 (PDT)
From: Darrell bluebird_monitor"at"go.com
Subject: cedar wood toxic fumes

It has been brought to my attention that cedar wood releases toxic fumes. Now many nestboxes are made from this wood. Does anyone here know of research on this subject? Like, is this true, how much IS toxic, etc. I'd like to hear from esp. a toxoligist if possible. Darrell in N.E. Ohio
Stark County Coordinator Ohio Bluebird Society



Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2002 07:22:17 -0400
Subject: Re: cedar wood toxic fumes
From: Terrance H Bennett thbkab"at"juno.com

Hi Darrell,

Four of my nest boxes are hand made from rough cut cedar wood. I have never lost any adults or chicks while they were in these nest boxes.

I think the ones you have to be careful about are the cedar nest boxes that you can purchase at Loews, Home Depot, and Walmart. They are treated and they have a very strong oder to them.

Kathy Bennett
Central NY


Date: Fri, 02 Aug 2002 07:23:10 -0400
From: Janet Pesaturo janetpesaturo"at"attbi.com
Subject: Re: cedar wood toxic fumes

Hi Darrell,

I am not a toxicologist, but I have looked into this issue a bit. Cedar is a known health hazard to humans (occupational asthma) and to small mammals (both lung and liver disease). I have not been able to find any studies on the effects of cedar on birds. In his website (realbirdhomes.com), Gary springer discusses this issue at length and gives references to the mammalian studies.

Janet Pesaturo
Bolton, MA


From: "emcooper" emcooper"at"bayou.com
Subject: Re: cedar wood toxic fumes
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2002 06:43:56 -0500

I have four healthy fledglings that are in my yard every day that fledged from a cedar nest box about 50 ft. from my house. All four of the eggs that were laid hatched. Evelyn Cooper Delhi, La. Louisiana Bayou Bluebird Society Bluebirds along the bayous....... where we lend a helping hand!



Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2002 09:09:50 -0400
Subject: Re: cedar wood toxic fumes
From: Terrance H Bennett thbkab"at"juno.com

Terry and I are not bothered as we do not have allergies or asthma and we live in a cedar log cabin.

Kathy

********************************************************

Hi Darrell,

I am not a toxicologist, but I have looked into this issue a bit. Cedar is a known health hazard to humans (occupational asthma) and to small mammals (both lung and liver disease). I have not been able to find any studies on the effects of cedar on birds. In his website (realbirdhomes.com), Gary springer discusses this issue at length and gives references to the mammalian studies.

Janet Pesaturo
Bolton, MA


From: "Larry A Broadbent" rockets"at"mnsi.net
Subject: Re: cedar wood toxic fumes
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2002 10:04:48 -0400

Hi Darrell,
Rough cut Western Red Cedar and surface planed Western Red Cedar is (in my opinion) one of the finest woods to use for building bird houses with. Eastern White Pine is my second choice. I build bird houses from both of these woods.

Kathy Bennett's comments "I think the ones you have to be careful about are the cedar nest boxes that you can purchase at Loews, Home Depot, and Walmart. They are treated and they have a very strong oder to them."

The type of Cedar that is used in the bird houses and feeders sold by Wal-Mart is Aromatic Red Cedar. This is a different species of Cedar, and should NOT be used for bird houses or feeders. My Dad bought a Bluebird house from Wal-Mart, here in Chatham, Ontario. It was made from Aromatic Red Cedar, and it was poorly made and way too thin. I disposed of it. I will; never use or make a bird house out of Aromatic Red Cedar! It was made by COUNTRY HOME Cedar Nest (Model BH4)
http://www.cedar-works.com/newsite/products/country_home_houses.html 

Cornell Lab of Ornithology also agrees that Aromatic Red Cedar should NEVER be used for bird houses and feeders. They ( Cornell Lab), do agree the Western Red Cedar is one of the best woods to use in bird houses and they sell bird houses made from Western Red Cedar.

I read everything that Gary Springer of Real Birdhomes.Com has to say about NOT using Cedar, but I disagree with Gary on this point. However, Garry's Chalet style Bluebird house is a Excellent design, and I highly recommend it.

Regards,
Larry A Broadbent
Chatham, Ontario


From: "Bobby Wilson" bluebirdbob1"at"bresnan.net
Subject: Rough cut Western Red Cedar
Date: Fri, 02 Aug 2002 14:59:00 +0000

I purchase Rough cut Western Red Cedar in Oregon several years ago and had very bad luck with splitting. It was after this that I decided to only use the PVC cut off for my houses. I have replaces most of the tops with PVC and they seem to we working well. It is my opinion the reason that this wood split is that it is too dry here in Colorado, 15% humidity most of the time.

The Mountain Bluebirds do use cedar bark to build their nest. I have seen Western Bluebirds using natural cavities in cedar trees. Wendell you will notice that I did not say "MY BLUEBIRDS". :)
Bob Wilson
(970) 242-5190
39* 06.21N -108*33.61 W
4,635 elevation Grand Junction Colorado
THE HOME OF ALL THREE BLUEBIRD SPECIES


From: "Ernie Tucker" ernie724"at"citlink.net
Subject: Re: cedar wood toxic fumes
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2002 10:31:41 -0500

I'll throw a word on this subject in - I started the year with a Lowe's cedar nesting box, and had not made it into the house after putting it up that a pair of EABL were investigating. They fledged 3 chicks, and less than 2 weeks later were building the nest again and fledges 5. Weather got too hot then, and they didn't go for a third - at least not there. I then bought cedar lumber at Lowe's and built a nest box - and after about a month a male EABL looked at it, but never settled in it. I'll see what happens next year!

Ernie
Crossville TN


Date: Fri, 02 Aug 2002 09:18:45 -0700
From: John Schuster wildwingco"at"earthlink.net
Subject: Re: cedar wood toxic fumes

Dear Friends,

Use upon a time, I built my nest boxes out of western and red cedar (mind you I build nest boxes and have never purchased a single nest box cedar or no otherwise) and have fledged Bluebirds from cedar built nest boxes. I even liked working with cedar because it was easy to cut, pilot drilling was a snap, and the wood rarely split. On one occasion though, I found a dead female Bluebird in one of these cedar built nest boxes and for all practical appearances the bird looked healthy as the female Bluebird had no markings or signs of a struggle. I figured that it was an old bird that died naturally or someone nearby had used a pesticide, the bird picked up something and died inside the nest box. I found out later that someone nearby had sprayed so QED.

However, I’ve suffered with asthma all my life so I wear a North mask (the best in my opinion) to protect myself when in my workshop. I use 2 kinds of changeable filter cartridges. The heavy type will filter radon, pesticides and other gases. The other filter is a particulate filter. I noticed though that after working all day in my workshop (wearing the particulate filter), I’d have these HORRIBLE asthma attacks at night and inhalers just couldn't cut it. Then I found out about “plicatic acid” and “occupational asthma” and I put 2 and 2 together.

I returned all my cedar planking to my supplier and cleaned my workshop from top to bottom to get rid of all the cedar laden dust. Almost overnight I noticed that my severe asthma attacks subsided and in time I seem to be back to normal. Now I only use beautiful long lasting redwood for my Meadowood Barn Owl, Meadowood Bluebird (and other Bluebird nest box configurations), Screech Owl and American Kestrel nest boxes.

One of my customers that raises horses told me that cedar shavings for stable bedding is very bad for horses because it really effect their breathing and pet shop owners do not recommend cedar savings for rabbit, hamsters and other small pets.

Thought there is no definitive answer to this debate and my conclusions may not be scientific, I figured I’d stop using cedar just the same. Not just because it was effecting my heath and triggering my asthma, but imagine a small baby bird breathing in all those fumes for the first few weeks of its life. I just didn’t see the point in using cedar anymore when I could simple use a safer wood product like redwood.

Besides, I once had both cedar and redwood built nest boxes on my trails and noticed that more cedar nest boxes would stand empty throughout the nesting season, while most of my redwood nest boxes were being occupied. Could it be that the birds knew something that I was not aware of. HUM? Now I only have redwood nest boxes on my trails.

Gary Springer’s web site is a source of information on the subject, but do a search on the net for both “plicatic acid” and “occupational asthma” and judge for yourself.

I can tell you this, I’ll never go back to using cedar again.
John Schuster, Conservationist and Owner ...
Cotati, California


Date: Fri, 02 Aug 2002 12:22:53 -0400
From: Janet Pesaturo janetpesaturo"at"attbi.com
Subject: cedar and toxins

Just to add to all of this, someone very recently pointed out to me that several studies have shown that if cedar is kiln and air dried, virtually all of the plicatic acid (the hydrocarbon in cedar that is known to cause disease) is eliminated from the wood. I haven't seen the studies myself, and I don't know how you would know if the cedar nestboxes or the cedar boards you purchase have been treated this way.

Janet
Bolton, MA


Date: Fri, 02 Aug 2002 09:50:49 -0700
From: John Schuster wildwingco"at"earthlink.net
Subject: Re: cedar and toxins

Dear Janet and friends,

The only way to be sure that you are getting Kiln dried lumber would be to request it and it would probably have to be ordered for you in my opinion.

If there was no other lumber available, but cedar, then I would use Kiln dried lumber only as air dried takes to long to cure and there is no guarantees that the plicatic acid would be totally eliminated.

Store bought nest boxes made with Kiln dried cedar lumber? Volume manufacture will never use Kiln dried cedar lumber until Bluebirders like use complain load enough for them to do something. So don't hold your breath and hopefully there isn't' any cedar planking nearby when you inhale.
Cotati, California 94931...



Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2002 14:24:43 -0400
Subject: Re: cedar wood toxic fumes
From: Maynard R Sumner m-r-sumner"at"juno.com

On Thu, 01 Aug 2002 18:40:18 -0700 (PDT) Darrell bluebird_monitor"at"go.com writes:
 It has been brought to my attention that cedar wood releases toxic

...

Here we go again. No one is going to win on this. Each side as good and bad things about it. Each Bluebirder has to do what he or she thinks is the best thing to do.

Maynard Sumner
Flint, MI


Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2002 13:48:35 -0500 (Central Daylight Time)
From: "Phil Berry" mrtony8"at"mchsi.com
Subject: Re: cedar wood toxic fumes

I have some of these cedar boxes up that have been used for many years and I can't remember one fatality yet. Would this not be a gold mine for an
attorney if it were true?
Phil Berry
Gulf Breeze, florida




From: thbkab"at"juno.com
Date: Friday, August 02, 2002 6:22:59 AM
Subject: Re: cedar wood toxic fumes

Hi Darrell,

Four of my nest boxes are hand made from rough cut cedar wood. I have never lost any adults or chicks while they were in these nest boxes.

I think the ones you have to be careful about are the cedar nest boxes that you can purchase at Loews, Home Depot, and Walmart. They are treated and they have a very strong oder to them.

Kathy Bennett
Central NY

From: "BONNIE A. YEAGER" dement"at"frognet.net
Subject: Toxicity of Cedar and Pine Wood
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2002 15:03:37 -0400

The following is a reference article about the toxicity of cedar and pine dust. Please note that the article talks about wood dust exposure - not exposure to planks of wood. May I suggest that it is exposure to the wood dust that causes the problem and not exposure to the wood. Remember, wood dust will be respired directly into the lungs where pilcatic acid and abietic acid can as irritants. A small amount of wood dust has a very large surface area compared to a plank of wood. Please note that both acids are rather high in molecular weight. This means their vapor pressure will be relatively low. Besides that, both of these compounds are carboxylic acids which means they will be strongly hydrogen bonded to the wood cellulose which will further decrease their vapor pressure. Both effects, high molecular weight and hydrogen bonding, mean that the concentration of either of these acids in the air inside of nest box at ambient temperature will be extremely low.

Both oil of cedar and oil of pine contain a great many chemical compounds. So, when you smell the pine or cedar odor, it doesn't mean you are smelling pilcatic or abietic acid. More than likely the odor is from one or more of the many other much more volatile chemical compounds in these woods. I doubt that either pilcatic or abietic acid would, or could have an adverse affect on a cavity nesting bird which is nesting in a nest box made from either cedar or pine. I would be more afraid of the many other volatile compounds in unseasoned wood. However, if the wood you are using has been kiln or air dried (for a long period of time) most of the volatile oils have been evaporated. Please pursue the references at the end of this article is you are interested learning more about this issue.  I would be very interested in any other information anyone has relating to this topic.

Fred Yeager,
SE, OH

Respiratory toxicity of cedar and pine wood:

A review of the biomedical literature from 1986 through 1995

Written by Jeff Johnston, doctoral candidate in epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Many pet owners, breeders and pet retailers favor wood chips as pet bedding for a variety of reasons. Most wood chips are inexpensive and depending on the wood used, wood chips can provide natural insecticidal, bactericidal or bacteriostatic properties. Such bedding can often kill or inhibit the spread of fleas, mites or other pests, and the resins and other aromatic chemicals emitted by the chips help to control pet odors. With all of these advantages, pet stores often sell prepackaged starter kits for housing small pets complete with a supply of wood chips for bedding. Many people have used cedar and pine chips as bedding for these reasons. Wood from western red cedar (Thuja plicata) has one of the most potent insecticidal compounds, which accounts for its popularity to repel or kill clothes' moths.

Although wood chips may provide a natural means of insect and odor control, "natural" does not always mean safe. These same chemicals can also damage the respiratory tract, causing chronic respiratory disease, and asthma, and some studies have found an association between exposure to some wood dusts and oral cancers. The scientific literature on this topic is extremely clear, and unlike many studies of toxins, most of the scientific evidence regarding wood dust exposure has been conducted in humans rather than in laboratory animals since so many people work in the production of wood products. The summary of the biomedical literature that follows primarily describes the effect of chronic cedar- and pine-wood exposure on humans. Keep in mind that the effect on small mammals is likely to be even more pronounced, especially if they are in close, continual contact with wood chips. Humans also have a relatively poor sense of smell compared with other mammals. Thus, a nasal or respiratory irritant is much more likely to harm small mammals, which
rely on smell for locating food and identifying and interacting with other animals.

The primary irritant in cedar is plicatic acid and western red cedar contains the highest concentrations although eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) and Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) also contain it. Exposure to plicatic acid can cause or exacerbate asthma, rhinitis or conjunctivitis in humans and in animals, and the damage can be progressive. Asthmatics who are continuously exposed to cedar, such as in a lumber mill, experience deterioration in their asthma over time. In pine (family Pinaceae), the primary irritant identified is abietic acid, sometimes called sylvic acid. Pine products also include pine resin,
also known as rosin or colophony, which is known to pool players and mountain climbers. Pine resin is also used in adhesives, paints and varnishes, inks and in sizing for paper, paperboard and fabrics (Sadhra 1994). Abietic acid itself elicits relatively weak allergic responses, however, a number of compounds formed by air oxidation of abietic acid are potent contact allergens (Hausen 1989, Karlberg 1988). 

Plicatic acid has been shown to cause an array of pathological changes consistent with inflammatory and allergic reactions. However, no one knows the mechanism by which plicatic acid induces these changes, which include increased concentrations of eosinophils, immunoglobulin E (IgE), T-cells, histamine and leukotrienes--substances known to increase inflammation in conditions such as multiple organ failure following surgery and acute respiratory distress syndrome (Frew 1995, Chan-Yeung 1994, Salari 1994). The overall increase in IgE concentrations found in humans with red- cedar asthma (Frew 1995, Paggiaro 1987) indicates an overall sensitization of the immune system to a foreign substance. Similar increases in IgE levels also accompany allergic reactions and parasitic infections. Allergists and immunologists refer to this immediate immune response as a type-I hypersensitivity reaction. Humans can also exhibit a delayed reaction to red cedar or plicatic acid exposure--also known as a type-IV hypersensitivity reaction, which is the type of response seen in tuberculin skin tests in humans. Following exposure to red cedar or plicatic acid, a person with occupational asthma may have either an immediate, or a delayed reaction, or both (Malo 1989). Long-term exposure to red cedar or pine in humans can lead to a decrease in forced expiratory volume, or FEV, a measure of lung capacity and ability to breathe freely (Shamzzzin 1992, Cote 1990, Malo 1989). Plicatic and abietic acids can both cause destruction and
desquamation, or sloughing, of alveolar, tracheal and bronchial epithelial cells (Ayars 1989).

Among the known causes of occupational asthma, red cedar has a significant impact compared with most other occupational exposures. One study compared four groups of employees who worked at jobs that exposed them to respiratory irritants: cedar sawmill, paper pulpmill, grain elevator and aluminum smelter workers. The sawmill workers had the highest overall prevalence of asthma compared with a control group of persons without any occupational respiratory exposure (Siracusa 1995). Studies of workers exposed to pine dust also show that such work is associated with significantly more respiratory symptoms and a greater risk of airflow obstruction (Shamzzzin 1992), and the results of a German study indicate that workers exposed to pine dust had more than a three-fold increased risk of glottal cancer (relative risk3D 3.18, 95% confidence interval: 1.1-9.0) (Maier 1992).

In humans, occupational exposure to cedar leads to asthma in 50% of more of wood, paper and pulp mill workers (Malo 1994, Rosenberg 1989). One might expect that longer exposure to cedar or pine dust would result in worse or more persistent respiratory symptoms, but that is not clear from various studies. Some researchers report just that among timber workers with occupational asthma who remain exposed to wood dust (Rosenberg 1989). In contrast, a large study of British Columbia cedar sawmill workers found that physician diagnoses of asthma or respiratory symptoms were not associated with work duration or the amount of dust to which the workers were exposed (Vedal 1986, vol. 41).

Can asthma caused by exposure to wood products be reversed? In the studies of occupational asthma among sawmill workers, the condition vanishes in 50% or fewer cases when exposure stops. The remaining individuals experience intermittent attacks or continued chronic airway restriction that can persist for years or indefinitely (Choubrac 1991, Rosenberg 1989, Newman-Taylor, 1988). In the British Columbia sawmill workers, researchers reported the health status of 17 patients with occupational asthma due to red cedar who had been removed from exposure for at least one year. Seven patients became asymptomatic but 10 (59%) required continued treatment for asthma (Chan-Yeung 1988). In another group of 136 sawmill workers with cedar-induced asthma who had left the industry, only 55 (40%) recovered completely and 81 (60%) had continued asthma attacks of varying severity (Chan-Yeung 1987). In one experimental study, bronchial hypersensitivity lasting two weeks was observed after an individual with red-cedar asthma received a single
exposure to plicatic acid (Cartier 1986, vol. 78).

What happens to asthmatics if they continue to be exposed? Another study of the British Columbian sawmill workers followed 48 of the workers with asthma who remained on the job. Although 10% of the patients improved, none of them recovered, 62% remained stable and 38% got worse (Cote 1990). Thus, it seems imperative that an individual with cedar- or pine-induce asthma be removed from exposure for any possibility of recovery, and that the recovery occurs among humans only in half of all cases at best. The probability of recovery is likely to be lower for small mammals.

Address queries or additional information to: j.p.johnston"at"worldnet.att.net

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

REFERENCES

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obstruction after exposure to occupational sensitizing agents. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1991;87:630-9.

Rosenberg N, Gervais P. Evaluation of the sequelae of occupational asthma. [French] Rev Mal Respir 1989;6:35-8.

Sadhra S, Foulds IS, Gray CN, Koh D, Gardiner K. Colophony--Uses, health effects, airborne measures and analysis. Ann Occup Hyg 1994;38:385-96.

Salari H, Howard S, Chan H, Dryden P, Chan-Yeung M. Involvement of immunologic mechanisms in a guinea model of western red cedar asthma. J
Allergy Clin Immunol 1994;93:877-84.

Shamzzzin MH. Pulmonary function and symptoms in workers exposed to wood dust. Thorax 1992;47:84-7.

Siracusa A, Kennedy SM, DyBuncio A, Lin FJ, Marabini A, Chan-Yeung M. Am J Ind Med 1995;28:411-23.

Vedal S, Enarson DA, Chan H, Ochnio J, Tse KS, Chan-Yeung M. A longitudinal study of the occurrence of bronchial hyperresponsiveness in western red cedar workers. Am Rev Respir Dis 1988;137:651-5.

Vedal S, Chan-Yeung M, Enarson D, Fera T, MacLean L, Tse KS, Langille R. Symptoms and pulmonary function in western red cedar workers related
to duration of employment and dust exposure. Arch Environ Health 1986;41:179-83.

Vedal S, Chan-Yeung M, Enarson DA, Chan DA, Dorken E, Tse KS. Plicatic acid-specific IgE and nonspecific bronchial hyperresponsiveness in
western red cedar workers. J Clin Allergy Clin Immunol 1986;78:1103-9.

Address queries or additional information to: j.p.johnston"at"worldnet.att.net

Last modified 9 February 1999
 

...

Note the above  material seems to have come from the following source http://www.trifl.org/cedar.html as posted to the Triangle Ferret Lovers web site at http://www.trifl.org/

Date: Fri, 02 Aug 2002 13:21:43 -0700
From: John Schuster wildwingco"at"earthlink.net
Subject: Re: cedar wood toxic fumes

That's right Maynard,

Just do what your heart tells you is right and leave the rest to the big guy up stairs.
John Schuster
Cotati, California


From: klubea"at"comcast.net
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 09:16:13 -0500
Subject: Cedar grades

I noticed different grades of cedar houses. There's a more reddish look and its lighter in weight. Then there's a heavier so called white cedar. Which is better and would last longer. Who Makes Heartwood pine houses? Per sandys prev Message. Been using Woodlink houses. Not their second label Audubon but their original. Thats where i noticed a different grade of wood.


From: "Rudy Benavides" rbenavid"at"hotmail.com
Subject: Re: Cedar grades
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 10:13:15 -0500

Log cabin builders seem to prefer Northern white cedar because it's more dense and has better insulating properties than red. Keith pointed out the durability of pine from old growth. But nowadays, a lot of the pine comes from tree farms that produce the fastest growing varieties that can be turned over the quickest so they can maximize profits (per relatives that sell their pines to the lumber companies in the south). It might be something worthwhile to test the durability of white vs. red cedar houses.

-Rudy/Maryland


From: klubea"at"comcast.net
Subject: Cedar grades
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 09:16:13 -0500

I noticed different grades of cedar houses. There's a more reddish look
and
its lighter in weight. Then there's a heavier so called white cedar. Which
is better and would last longer. Who Makes Heartwood pine houses? Per
sandys prev Message. Been using Woodlink houses. Not their second label
Audubon but their original. Thats where i noticed a different grade of
wood.


From: Larry A Broadbent, rockets"at"mnsi.net
Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 10:38 AM
Subject: Re: Nest Boxes

Those Walmart - Bluebird nestboxes are made from Aromatic Cedar ( Juniper). NOT Western Red Cedar. They are two thin in construction and poorly made. I know, because I bought one to show people what NOT to buy when looking for proper nestboxes for Bluebirds. Aromatic Cedar ( Juniper) should never be used for bird nestboxes.

Regards, Larry A Broadbent

...

From: Dottie, Hickory Hollow, Brown County, Indiana, yumyumkatts"at"voyager.net
Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 11:53 AM
Subject: Re: Nest Boxes

I also have a couple of the Wal-mart BB boxes that I received as presents and they have been some of my best BB boxes. We put more holes in them for air conditioning and drainage. Also, I let them "cure" in the snow and rain before I put them up. This takes any toxins out.

So far I haven't had any problems with them. Of course, I always winterize my boxes in the Fall to keep them dry and warm and then in the summer I put the "heat" top on to keep them cool.

...

I've had my Wal-mart boxes for about three years now and they are going strong.   Maybe one reason is because I spray them with an acrylic waterproof spray in the Fall.

Dottie, Hickory Hollow, Brown County, Indiana


From: JCGARRIOTT"at"satx.rr.com
Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 10:11 PM
Subject: Nestboxes

Wow, didn't realize this nestbox issue was such a hot topic! I am only a novice with now going on 5 years' as a bluebird landlord. I have learned a lot from you, the bluebird people and especially Pauline who has answered many of my questions and got me off on the right foot, and I certainly defer to the experts with more experience on most matters. However, I was surprised at some negative comments about the “Walmart” brand bird houses.

1-One comment was they are much too flimsy. My current box weighs 2.5 pounds new made with ½ inch pieces, as sturdy as any box I have seen.

2-The other big issue seems to be with cedar aromatics. I was not aware of this, and have searched for some bsis for this concern . I excerpted some information from the PMCS, of which I am also a member and a PM colony landlord. See below for information more specific to martins, but generally concluding that there is no data to suggest toxicity to birds. The new box does smell faintly of cedar, but does not appear to be treated, which was another concern. After exposed to the weather for a short time, no cedar odor is detectable.

3-My other information is from personal experience. I fledged two bluebird broods last season successfully with two separate Walmart boxes. This is on a ranch property with a high density of predators, especially snakes, coons, ringtails. This was the best year so far, since I had many losses previously from predators.

Following excerpted from PMCS: “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). 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. 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.” Jim Garriott, San Antonio, TX


From: Evelyn Cooper, emcooper"at"bayou.com
Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 10:26 PM
RE: Nestboxes

Do you mean the nestbox is made of 1/2" thickness of wood? That is thin, we really like them to be at least 7/8ths. I have some that are genuinely 1" thick that my husband had cut. The thicker the nestbox, the better. I have only one cedar nestbox and I cannot tell that it smells at all. It has been out for 7 years. It fledges lots of babies too. Evelyn Cooper


From: Bruce Burdett, blueburd"at"tds.net
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2004 7:35 AM
Subject: Re: Nestboxes

Jim, et al, 1/4" seems pretty thin to me, even if the box is strongly assembled , screwed, nailed, etc., and did not warp. It would not provide enough insulation, either against heat or cold. I've never used cedar of any kind. All I've ever used is white pine, 7/8" thick, rough-one-side. Bruce Burdett, SW NH


From: Paula, PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2004 8:33 AM
Subject: Re: Nest Boxes

Jim, I have one of these Walmart boxes attached to the back of my mailbox. The bluebirds like it just fine, having a brood in it each season for the two years it has been up. It is holding up well so far. I did drill drainage holes in the bottom as the house came without them. ....


From: Larry A Broadbent, rockets"at"mnsi.net
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2004 9:32 AM
Subject: Re: Nest Boxes

Paula, Jim et al, The issue is NOT whether or not the Bluebirds will use these Aromatic Cedar nestboxes (made by Cedar Works from Ohio) http://www.cedar-works.com/newsite/CountryHome/CHHouses.htm . Bluebirds and other birds will and do use these nestboxes. The issues are:

1 - they are made from Aromatic Red Cedar. - which should NEVER be used for nestboxes for birds, due to the toxic harmful plicatic acid fumes they emit.

2 - they are made with too thin ( only 1/2" to 5/8") Juniper lumber, have no drainage holes, and a cheap locking clasp.

3 - for a house like this that is too thin and poorly made in OHIO, I consider $9.95 to be too much to pay! IF you are going to buy one of these Cedar Works house then PLEASE do not use it outdoors. Use it at your bluebird nesbox workshops and conventions to show people what NOT to buy in a Bluebird nest box.

Regards, Larry A Broadbent Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society Chatham, ON Canada


From: Haleya Priest, mablue"at"gis.net
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2004 11:36 AM
Subject: Re: Nestboxes Haleya Priest Amherst MA

Jim, you've walked into a mine field with your questions and bluebirding style! But that is what keeps the list fresh so hang in there. I've heard of folks fledging bluebirds from the flimsiest little things that weren't even intended for any living creature. I might be wrong about this, but I believe NABS recommends a 3/4" thickness for boxes. And Evelyn is right about that. The thickness is a great insulator for both hot and cold. However, I myself have used PVC boxes with virtually no insulation because they are so thin and yet bluebirds have fledged from these in the direst of cold. Go figure

But you in Texas have to deal with heat. And if you've got enough ventilation on those boxes, you might do ok - but pay attention for chicks dehydrating if the weather gets too hot. You can always decide to put large heat shield roofs or screening on your boxes if you ever get concerned. I won't even touch the cedar debate - but just know that there are many strong opinions on the list and remember that the one thing we all have in common is that we want the best for our bluebirds. So passion runs high - but in the end we all have to make our own choices about what works best for us. It is a great list and you can learn more by going through the websites at the bottom of this post. :-) H ....


From: Don McCartney, donmc59"at"earthlink.net
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2004 1:34 PM
Re: Nest Boxes

Hello Larry and List Members, I would like to add some clarification to Larry's excellent discussion of "aromatic red cedar", as there is considerable confusion in the Western U.S. due to the nomenclature and regional differences.

Out West, we tend to think of the cedar available in this area as "red cedar" or just "cedar". Some Westerners have read the cautionary comments on aromatic red cedar, have not drawn the distinction, and thus are hesitant to make boxes out of "cedar". The cedar available in this area is Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata ), which grows mainly in Alaska, British Columbia, the Pacific Northwest and into parts of the Rocky Mt. states.

According to "Western Forests", part of the National Audubon Society Nature Guides series,: "particularly resistant to rot, Western Redcedar is the chief wood for shingles, and one of the most important for siding and boatbuilding". Further explaining the confusion is "Northwest Trees" by Arno and Hammerly: "The wood of Rocky Mt. juniper is as rose- red and fragrant as its close relative eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana ), commonly used for cedar chests. In fact, Rocky Mt. juniper is so similar to that of its eastern kin, that Lewis and Clark did not distinguish it as a new species when they encountered it while travelling west into the Rockies in the fall of 1804. The historic common name was Rocky Mt. red cedar, but this has been replaced in current usage, which is fortunate because it led to confusion with westren redcedar (Thuja plicata ), which also grows in the Rockies".

I have 318 nestboxes, all made from western red cedar, and I have yet to notice even the slightest deleterious effects on the adults or the hundreds of nestlings of various species that these boxes have produced. In fact, I use red cedar shavings, by the bale from Petco, to line the kestrel, flicker and owl boxes.

I consulted with a professional avian toxicologist on the use of cedar shavings, and he indicated a preference for cedar over pine shavings. The pine shavings are much finer and lighter and tend to blow out of the boxes in the windy areas, leaving a bare floor. I hope that this provides some clarification for our western box builders, whom I'm afraid are too few in number (Linda Violett in Calif. and Charlie Sheard in Utah and a few others out West that I don't know yet- your efforts are much appreciated). And Larry, thank you for your numerous and informative posts. Don McCartney Bend, OR


From: Gary Springer, springer"at"alltel.net
Sent: Saturday, February 07, 2004 11:04 PM
Subject: Re: Nest Boxes

Dear Don, Of the western cedar you have described as free of poisons, you wrote: " The cedar available in this area is Western Redcedar (Thuja licata ), which grows mainly in Alaska, British Columbia", Can you tell me whether the poison called plicatic acid was named after the tree Thuja plicata, or if the tree was named after the poison which persists in the wood of western cedar and is one of the leading causes of occupational asthma? Gary Springer


From: Larry A Broadbent, rockets"at"mnsi.net
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2004 8:00 PM
Re: Nest Boxes

Hello Don and members, Don has made an excellent post about the distinction between Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata ), and the Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana ). Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata ), is one of the woods I use for building nestboxes and bird feeders from. I also use Eastern White Pine, and Cypress. All lumber I use is kiln dried. I really like the Cypress a lot. My boxes are 7/8" minimum thickness. Many are 15/16" or 1" actual thickness. The minimum recommended thickness is 3/4. Thicker is definately better. Once again the type of Cedar that (Cedar Works from Ohio) uses is the Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana ). And this species of Cedar should NEVER be used for nestboxes. http://www.cedar-works.com/newsite/CountryHome/CHHouses.htm

I know that both Gary Springer of (Real Birdhomes.com) in GA, and John Schulster of (Wild Wings Co.) from CA, both are firm believers in NOT using any type of Cedar for nestboxes. Period. I have the utmost respect for both Gary Springer and John Schulster, and consider both of them valuable sources of information. Both gentlemen are doing fantastic work with Bluebirds and other cavity nesting birds. I just have not come to the same conclusions re: Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata ), as they have. But I am dead against using Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana ). And I would encourage people NOT to buy nesboxes made from this species of Cedar. Regards, Larry A Broadbent Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society Chatham, ON Canada


From: John Schuster, wildwingco"at"earthlink.net
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2004 10:39 PM
Re: Nest Boxes

Dear Friends, Not much time to chime in on this topic, but I believe Larry speaks for me on this issue. I gave up on cedar (not only for my own health which was being effected by the stuff, but for the health of our Bluebirds and other cavity nesters) some years back and with all due respect of those that continue to use it, I'm glad that I stopped using cedar.

I want to encourage those that want to know to go to your local pet store and ask their opinion on cedar shaving for bedding or better still ask someone who raises horses and watch what happens. True a horse or a hamster is not a Bluebird, but everything has to breath, so why poison the air with plicatic acid.

Yes, it maybe be true that some types of cedar maybe safe (I doubt it) to use, and I have had Bluebirds safely fledge from cedar nest box. However, I have also noticed numerous and seemingly health Bluebirds and baby Bluebird one day, die inside nest boxes made from cedar (an that's Western Cedar out here in California guys and gals.)

Furthermore, I gave all of my cedar nesting boxes to neighbors and friends and most have call in to report the strange deaths of said cavity nesters inside these cedar built nest boxes (to date I'm taking them all back and replacing them with some of my old Redwood units.)

About the only good thing I can say about cedar it that I found it easy to work with. To date I have never had one bird death (with the exception of 1 frozen male Bluebird during last years freeze, 1 snake attack, and 2 HOSP attacks on a Violet Green nest at the base of our vineyard) inside any of my 3/4" Redwood built nesting boxes. Through difficult to work with, I went back to using 3/4" Redwood as I consider Redwood to be the very best soft wood there is, it looks fantastic, it lasts for decades and the Bluebird just love them.

... Happy Bluebird Trails To You, John Schuster, CEO Wild Wing Company


From: Evelyn Cooper, emcooper"at"bayou.com
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2004 11:44 PM
RE: Nest Boxes

Well, John, I have perfectly healthy looking birds to die in my boxes that are not cedar. I have never had any to die in the cedar box. In fact, it fledged 6 on the first nesting last year. I am not saying you are wrong, just telling you what works on my trail. I have 18 white pine and 1 cedar nestbox. I bought the cedar 7 years ago, and the rest we built. We had the white pine on hand. My husband said it was not Western Cedar. Evelyn Cooper Delhi, LA ...


From: Keith & Sandy Kridler, txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net
Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2004 8:57 AM
Subject: choice of wood for nestboxes

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas

OK lets look at eastern red cedar from a bluebirds perspective. This cedar grows EXTREMELY slowly and it takes up to 15 years to reach a height of five or six feet tall. These are male and female trees so only the female trees contain fruit and they will not bear fruit if there are no pollen producing male cedar trees in the region. This is a very dense evergreen tree that provides the best cover and nesting sites for many species of birds all across the southern states where we lack other very dense, long lived evergreens.

These trees are easily wiped out with a fairly cool grass fire. It nearly always takes more than 100 years to grow one of these trees that can produce a 12" x 12" saw log only about 8 feet long. Due to the growth habits of the trunk most of this wood is fissured with sections of trapped bark and very often large cedars are practically worthless for lumber. So a 100 year old tree will only build about 15 nestboxes with 1" thick lumber On the other hand these trees live to 350 years old and can produce thousands of pounds of fruit during their lifetime to feed hundreds of species of birds, mammals and insects. They sometimes provide the only food source during an ice storm because ice will coat the entire top and side of one of these trees but the interior of the trees are still free of ice gluing the fruit to the limbs. VERY often even with deep snow the ground under large cedar trees is still snow free and right now the ground is covered with the blue fruit under these trees.

Western cedar for boxes: Montana bluebirders used to get donated all the western cedar scrap they could use from a 116 year old sawmill that specialized in cutting this one species of tree in Montana. They can no longer get this cedar from that sawmill because ALL of the available western cedar was cut in the state.....The sawmill shut down. Now we are cutting the forests in Canada. Sandy, Shawn and I went through those Northwest forests for about 4,000 miles and they are getting pretty thin in areas. Just for the birds food source try buying lumber from plantations, from species of trees that are numerous and being replanted and from trees that furnish very little food for wildlife. KK


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman
To: Bluebird Listserv
Subject: End of nesting season: results, and what I did wrong and right this year

...New cedar boxes swell up when it's humid and are almost impossible to open.
·


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 19, 2004 11:35 PM
Re: End of nesting season:results, and what I did wrong and right this year

... I don't mean to get into the top or side opening debate again, but with nestboxes that open both ways, the top is always easy to open. Dottie Roseboom Peoria IL (central - zone 5)


From: Tnbluebirdman"at"aol.com [mailto:Tnbluebirdman"at"aol.com]
Sent: Saturday, March 12, 2005 5:39 PM
Subject: Another Survey!!!

Hi All,
I know this subject has been discussed before but I can't seem to remember the general opinion of everyone. I went to Lowes today to look for a new bird feeder and I noticed that they are selling 2 varieties of Blue Bird Houses. They say on the boxes that they are NABS Approved BLAH BLAH BLAH but the fact remains that they are made from....Excuse my spelling... Areomatic Cedar.. One is a standard shaped house and the other is a Petersen shaped house. They are sold as National Geographic bird houses.My question is simple.Am I crazy or does aromatic cedar pose a health risk to Bluebirds and other cavity nesters?
As always thanks for your input...
Bob in NE Tn.
PS I just finished putting Kingston style predator guards on every house on my trail. The cost for materials was just $3.50 per guard...What a deal!!!!



From: Torrey [mailto:torrey_canyon"at"yahoo.com]
Sent: Saturday, March 12, 2005 9:36 PM
Subject: Re: Another Survey!!!

I prefer boxes made from cedar cuz they last longer than boxes made of pine. Generally, boxes are donated to the nature center & sit around for a while before they're used, so they have a good chance to air out.

As far as i can tell (& i'd have to go do some data mining to verify this), the birds don't have a preference & fledging success does not seem to be affected. After the cedar has weathered a bit, it doesn't smell, but i don't know how long that takes.

Other people have probably done studies, tho, & will have better answers.

Torrey Moss
Kalamazoo Nature Center
Kalamazoo, MI



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2005 7:56 AM
Subject: wood for nestboxes

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
Western Red Cedar: Soft light weight wood, easy to cut with saws but tends to produce a lot of fine dust in the air. Wear a respirator while cutting this wood. Easy to nail into edge grain for nestboxes. Use "hot" dipped galvanized "box" nails for better holding in this soft wood or use galvanized screws. This wood tends to stain when regular steel nails are used. ("box" is a thinner shanked nail, "common" nails have thicker shanks and split the wood for nestboxes more often)

You need a sharp drill bit for entrance holes or the hole edges will "tear out" leaving rough edges. It tends to make a LOT of thin sharp splinters. In areas of the country where the wood is likely to go from wet to dry several times a month the swelling and shrinking of the wood tends to have roof boards split if they are made of cedar. Nestbox fronts made of Western Cedar is most likely to be chewed by rodents or the holes enlarged by woodpeckers than harder species of woods. Roof boards should be sealed every couple of years to extend life.

Western Red cedar trees normally live for 1,000>2,000 years. At the turn of the last century equipment manufacturers specified western cedar or Douglas Fir for wood for grain combines that had in excess of 70 "grains or rings"
per inch or trees that took 35 years or more to grow a single inch in diameter. It was not uncommon for Western Cedar trees to reach a diameter in excess of 20 feet in the USA. Today most of this wood is coming out of Canada or from Russia.

Redwood: A soft wood that resists termites, wood boring beetles and fungi better than cedar. Also easy to cut but a respirator should be worn when dust is produced. Easy to nail but tends to split more often than cedar.
Easier to drill clean holes in Redwood than in cedar. Once again "hot"
dipped galvanized nails or screws should be used. redwood is far more resistant to weather so it splits less often when used for nestbox roofs.

Redwood trees are native to a small section of the West Coast of America.
There are now more large Redwood trees growing in Europe than there are in America. Plantation grown Redwood is NOT resistant to rot or insects. Old growth Redwood often took more than 70 years to grow a single inch in diameter. It took a three man crew 27 days to cut down, cut up and load up a single redwood tree right after World War II. There were commonly more than 300,000 board feet in a single tree or enough to build 100,000 bluebird nestboxes. These trees commonly grew to 250 feet tall with some far taller.
It was common to hold a "dance" on the stump of a redwood tree after it was "cut down" 20 pairs of "ballroom" dancers could dance at one time comfortably on a typical redwood stump.

Sitka Spruce: The largest tree of this species in the USA is over 27 feet in diameter with one in Canada over 35 feet in diameter. Spruce is normally cut into "white wood" #2 framing lumber for construction in people houses.
Spruce tends to have lots of small knots and easily splits, does not weather well and would not be suitable for long lived nestboxes.

White Pine: Is another good soft wood. Tight grained white pine often lasts longer without splitting than cedar in the southeastern USA. Hot dipped galvanized nails, Cement Coated nails (some times called CC Coolers) or any type of screws work well with this wood. Native to wide areas of the USA and readily available above planting zone 6. Wear a respirator when creating dust. Entrance holes drill very easily but like all softwoods rodents and woodpeckers will enlarge the entrance holes. Trees typically live to 300>500 years. It is commonly planted in plantations today and fast growth white pine is softer and less resistant to weather and rot than "slow old" growth trees. Today it takes about 70 years to grow a "quality" fast growth white pine sawlog. In premium "D" grade, slow growth, it is quite expensive but in culled #3 grade fast growth you can cut around the large 3" pine knots and still make good nestboxes very cheaply. This wood should be sealed or painted after 2 or 3 years to make the boxes last longer.

Yellow pine: There are actually about a dozen species of pines sold as "yellow" pine. Typically it is a very hard wood when dried to 8% moisture content. It tends to split easily if it is old or slow growth with tight growth rings. It can be very soft with fast growth lumber. It also could live to 150 years and reach 6>12 feet in diameter in some species.

Typically today most yellow pine is "super fast" growth loblolly selections grown on plantations. They expect or hope to get a pulp log in 15 years that is forty feet long with a 4" diameter top or more if planted on good fertile soils. They cut every other row (half the trees normally planted 600>900 per acre ((they want 600 trees per acre to survive) at 15 years. At 20 or 25 years they take out every other tree again for wafer board or for paper pulp and normally a few "no grade" utility 2X4's. At 40 years they hope to clear cut for saw logs and replant. Super fast growth yellow pine trees do NOT make quality construction lumber at any age!

Last year USA was cutting more board feet of trees than were growing. We have more "acres" of trees but far less "board feet" of timber. We had to import a record amount of lumber for the record amount of residential and commercial construction. Wood pulp to feed our printers and produce cardboard was also imported in record amounts. The USA consumed 42% more lumber and paper than we could grow last year.

Forest fires in Alaska burned more than 7 million acres of timber, mostly jack pine and spruce in 2004. It takes more than 125 years to grow the same size "Yellow Pine" in Alaska as it does to grow a 15 year old "yellow pine"
in Mississippi. Nobody replants trees in Alaska.

ANYWAY think about recycling the millions of board feet of privacy fences torn down and buried every year or ask at building sites for usable lumber that will go to landfills or mulch machines. Almost any board will make a nestbox for bluebirds. KK



From: Bruce Johnson [mailto:andyroooney"at"yahoo.com]
Sent: Monday, October 17, 2005 1:15 AM
Subject: Rhonda, Mary Jane, Mostly OT, and Western Cedar

... Now a word to my bird loving friends: When I was operating The Lucky Penny Nature Products company I had a good dust collecting system and used good shop practices. It took several years but the dust from the western cedar wood we used really did a job on my lungs. It is an insidious thing.

Do yourself a favor and err on the side of caution. When generating wood dust, wear a good mask and have as much ventilation as possible.

Some wood is more forgiving than others, no air is as good as pure, uncontaminated air like some of us had the privilege of breathing as children.

Best regards,

Bruce Johnson
Life Mbr. NABS


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Sunday, December 18, 2005 3:42 PM
Subject: Cedar Nestboxes

http://www.bestofbbml.audubon-omaha.org/boxesc.htm

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about using Cedar for nestboxes. I have been doing lots of thinking about it lately. I read with great interest the above section in the Archives on “Best of”. There are some wonderful articles written by the “greats”. Even Tina gives her answer to Horace about whether it is safe or not for our bluebirds and cavity nesters to use. I found it interesting what she said about the shavings not being safe for the boxes.

While I have leaned toward the thinking it is o.k. (more like Erv Davis’ post), a nagging thought stays with me. I have three of my closets lined with red cedar. Even though the scent is not active, I do not find any evidence of moths, silver fish or any kind of insects in them (or holes in clothes). This tells me that whatever keeps them away is still working as I did have moths and silver fish to eat holes in clothes before I had the closets lined. They were lined about 7 years ago.

I do know that I had to keep the closets closed at all times right at first, opening only briefly as it did affect my respiratory system. Now, it does not affect me.

Some think it is just the dust from the cedar that is damaging, but there was no dust in the closets that had that effect on me. It also burned my eyes somewhat.

I keep the doors closed at all times and do not spend much time in or at the closet openings.

I have one Cedar nestbox on my trail that was used successfully last year. It had been out in the elements for several months before use and no odor was in it. However, it looks very bad, part of the side has split off and it turned an ugly dark color and it is only one year old.

All the rest of my nestboxes are pine and cypress.

Now, here’s what I think Cedar can be of more use for (since pine and cedar trees are way more plentiful down here). There were over 150 Cedar Waxwings that came to the Cedar tree in my backyard yesterday devouring the seeds like they were eating their last meal. This is the first time I have ever seen that here in my life. I usually have about a dozen that come by and sit in the pecan tree. This was amazing to watch for about two hours. It makes me wonder if they are finding it hard in some places to find food.

Just me rambling on a Sunday afternoon. The “Best Of” Archives has some wonderful reading.

Evelyn Cooper
Delhi, LA


From: Dottie, Hickory Hollow, Brown County, Indiana [mailto:yumyumkatts"at"voyager.net]
Sent: Sunday, December 18, 2005 4:53 PM
Subject: Re: Cedar Nestboxes

I got a couple of Wal-mart cedar nest boxes for Christmas one year. What I did was let them stay out all winter and "cure". They have proven to be some of my best BB boxes.

Dottie, Hickory Hollow
Brown County, Indiana



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Monday, December 19, 2005 8:45 AM
Subject: Re:Cedar Nestboxes

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
Eastern Red Cedar is the aromatic cedar used to help repel moths. It is a very slow growing tree for lumber purposes. The pollen and berries are carried separately on "Male and Female" trees. Pollen from the cedar tree travels for miles so you only need to leave about one male or pollen tree for every 5 to 8 female trees.

Eastern Red Cedar, Western Cedar and Redwood are all considered a softwood and while they have the reputation of being insect repellant nearly all of the lumber now on the market from these trees is faster growing (second
growth) and we often get called out to repair rot and insect damage to this newer wood. Rot and insect resistance is higher the slower and older these trees grew. Only the very dense heartwood of these trees is truly rot resistant. These species of wood are the most likely for woodpeckers to damage because they are so soft.

In areas of the country where the humidity is low and you seldom get rainfall these woods hold up better (West Texas on through to California and the Rocky Mountain areas.) In the humid southeast these woods swell and shrink with every change in the weather and especially the roof and front of these nestboxes tend to split as Evelyn found out in just a single year.

Exterior yellow pine plywood holds up better to squirrel and woodpecker damage when used for the front of a nestbox. Cement boards hold up better for the roof of a nestbox. White Pine is an excellent species of wood to work with to build nestboxes. Not ALL white wood is white pine! Spruce and fir also are bad about splitting.

The fine "sawdust" from most species of trees is hazardous to our lungs especially the oaks. Use vacuum systems or exhaust fans when cutting or sanding wood. I don't buy lumber anymore for nestboxes preferring to recycle once used building materials. We also recycle downed trees with a portable sawmill. A 16" diameter log 12 feet long will only build about 35 bluebird nestboxes or about 12 wood duck boxes. KK



From: DanZ [mailto:danz1745"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 9:34 AM
Subject: NABS boxes from 5/4" cedar?

Has anyone had any BTDT experience using 5/4" cedar decking to make the NABS houses? It would reduce the floor to 3 3/8"x 5 1/2", and I'm wondering if that is too small.

I'm in SE Penna., we do get hot summers here. My only other thought is that the thicker stock might have better insulating properties in hot weather.

Thanks,

DanZ



From: rob barron [mailto:rebel1956"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 9:56 AM
Subject: RE: NABS boxes from 5/4" cedar?

Hi Dan,
I'm having a senior moment. What is BTDT? Whenever I've made anything from cedar it often splits when screwed, even with pre-drilled countersunk screw holes. I usually end up gluing a spline in all four inside corners to reinforce the joint. That floor sounds pretty small to me but I'm no expert.
Rob Barron



From: DanZ [mailto:danz1745"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 10:04 AM
Subject: Re: NABS boxes from 5/4" cedar?

"BTDT" = "Been There Done That"

Cedar does split, but large enough pilot hole and counter sink, with a screw that isn't too long, and all is well with the world.

One possibility here, to keep the floor size the same as pine, is to use pine sides. A two-tone NABS house!

I was wanting to keep it simple, though.

Thanks.

-DanZ



From: DanZ [mailto:danz1745"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 6:29 PM
Subject: Re: NABS boxes from 5/4" cedar?

And the result...
Two-Tone NABS box, made with 5/4" cedar top, back and front, 3/4" pine sides.

http://tinyurl.com/jwyd7

Cranked out a dozen of these this afternoon. Glued and nailed with a cheap air brad gun. Used counter-sunk wood screws for the top pivot and bottom latch.

They are heavy, but I think that they might last a little while....

Now, to get them up and watch for the new tenants!

-DanZ


From: John Schuster [mailto:wildwingco"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2006 11:36 AM
Subject: Re: wood types

Dear Mike and friends,

The wood types that I would recommend are the following.

1. Pine
2. Cypress
3. Hard Woods (Ash, Oak, Maple, etc.)
4. Con Heart Redwood.

We use Con Heart Redwood and to prevent splitting we dehumidify same in our drying shed here at Wild Wing Company (kiln dried wood is way out of sight so don't ask about it.) Pricey stuff Con Heart Redwood and due to the time it takes to dehumidify delivery takes time. However, the trade off is that Con Heart Redwood looks fantastic, it lasts for decades, it's safe and the birds just love it. At the right time of year, location and facing, I've seen Bluebirds move into our nest boxes with in 15 minutes after they've been installed.

No kidding Gang!!!!

Never use Cedar planking and to find out more about Cedar check out Gary Springer's web site at:

Real Bird Homes
http://www.realbirdhomes.com/

My own testimonial about the hazards of using cedar is that I once used Cedar for a time to make nest boxes, but notice that my asthma (which I've had all my life) was getting worse (even after wearing a dust mask) working in my wood shop all day. Then I read Gary's web site and it all clicked.

The very next day, I cleaned out my wood shop, returned all Cedar planking back to my suppler, went back to using Con Heart Redwood again and my asthma was a thing of the past. Imagine, if a big guy like me can be effected by Cedar what effect that would have on cavity nesting birds that reside inside a nest box that have to endure breathing that poisonous wood with every breath they take.

Things that make you go Hmm?

There is a reason why pet shops do not sell Cedar shavings for bedding and that horse breeders or stable owners (I have this from first hand knowledge that Cedar fumes kill horses, that is why they use pine shavings in stables) never use Cedar shaving for bedding too.

It is unfortunate that the bulk of the retail nest boxes on the market (largely manufactured in China) are made out of Cedar. In my opinion, these manufactures are either unaware or simply do not care about the health of the birds that would nest inside their products.

However, if you have the ability to build your own nest boxes, then I strongly recommend that you use anything, but highly toxic pressure treated woods or Cedar planking for your nest boxes and if you can't build your own, then order nest boxes from those that are in the know or are for the birds.

Cheers and as always...

Happy Bluebird Trails To You,

John Schuster, Owner / Operator
Wild Wing Company
Cotati, CA


From: Kathleen Arnold [mailto:koscharn"at"cox.net]
Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2006 6:49 PM
Subject: Using Cedar for Nestboxes

Although some people strongly disapprove of the use of cedar for nestboxes, it has been used for years by many nestbox builders, including myself. Thousand of birds have been fledged from cedar nestboxes over the years.

I am not talking aromatic cedar like that used to line closets, etc., but Western Red Cedar. I have a source of drop ends—two-foot pieces left from trimming 10-foot rough-cut 1x6’s and 1x8’s down to 8-foot length. The last time I bought them I paid $.25 and $.35, respectively for each 2-foot piece, so I’m spending about $2.50 to build a deep nestbox with just over 30 square inches of floor space. It’s hard to beat that price unless you get the wood for free.

As a chemist, I evaluate the risk of chemicals all the time. The real hazard with cedar is the dust and shavings. I wear a dust mask when I am cutting or drilling more than a piece or two. Once a nestbox is mounted outside, there shouldn’t be a lot of exposure of the birds to shavings or dust if it’s brushed/blown out of the nestbox prior to taking it out of the shop. Unless the wood was newly sawn, there will not be many fumes escaping other than from the cut edges, and there are fumes from all woods, including pine, or there would be no aroma when you cut them. I would worry more about fumes from cars driving up and down a road near a nestbox than I would about fumes from the wood once it had been outside a day or two.

Kate Arnold
Paris, Texas


From: Bernie Daniel [mailto:bdaniel"at"cinci.rr.com]
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2006 7:20 AM
Subject: Re: Using Cedar for Nestboxes

Hi Kate,

You are absolutely correct! Here is some detailed toxicity information related to cedar. I put this togather some years ago when this matter came up:

Matters concerning wood (cedar) toxicity
By Bernie Daniel, Ph.D.

The toxic agent in cedar mostly from the heartwood of western red cedar (Thuja plicata) is a potent insecticide -- thus it is used to line “cedar closets” to repel clothes moths. The compound responsible for the effectiveness of cedar is plicatic acid (see below). This compound is present in other cedars like eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) and Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) at much lower levels.

The eastern white cedar grows as an opportunistic species in Ohio. Respiratory exposure to plicatic acid can cause or exacerbate progressive asthma, rhinitis or conjunctivitis in humans and in animals.

However, keep in mind that plicatic acid is not the “cedar smell” that we associate with the wood. Therefore, an often stated premise that “humans cannot breathe cedar fumes” is incorrect.

You are correct to state that the only time cedar is toxic is exposure via wood dust. That is breathing in the dust in to the lungs. (and not for a short period but a long period). Thus, the diseases associated with cedar showed up first in asthmatics who were exposed to cedar dust in an occupational experience (e.g. a lumber mill). The dust enters their lungs and carried the toxic agent with it.

I know of no other example of cedar toxicity other than longer term exposure by saw mill workers.

As you know the nestling is in the box for only 2 weeks maximum.

Likewise, readers should realize that pet stores and research laboratories raise all kinds of mammals and birds on cedar chips for an entire lifetime (years at least) with not problem. These animals would be exposed to “cedar fumes” at a level dose thousands of times higher than any bird would get in a nest box – because the wood chips or savings have a surface area thousands of times greater than an equal mass of cedar 1” rough cut boards.

What is more the majority of saw mill workers (who actually are exposed to the wood dust, even for longer term) do not develop disease. Among saw mill workers occupationally exposed to cedar saw dust the NIOSH statistics indicate that only 2 to 5% develop an allergic sensitivity to this or any other compounds found in wood.

It is important to realize that just because a compound has toxic properties that alone do not make it toxic. The first principle of toxicology was developed hundreds of years ago by the Renaissance physician Paracelsus who wrote: “All things are poison and nothing is without poison. (Paracelsus in the 16th century). Failure to understand this ancient principle is the main reason why we have so many "armchair" toxicolists out there advising us on hazards that sometimes do not exist except in their own minds (smile).

In plain English we often restate this idea as: “It is the dose that makes a thing a poison." (N.B. There one exception to this rule that comes into play for sub-set of carcinogenic called genotoxins)

Therefore, just because there is a toxin in cedar it is incorrect to suggest (in the absence of evidence) that cedar is toxic

Cedar wood is almost certainly not toxic --AT ALL-- in a typical nest box situation for the birds.

You are prudent to be careful when making cedar dust -- and to be clear no one is advised to breath in any kind of dust or particulates into your lungs anyway so yes wear a mask when doing any extensive wood cutting.

But in order for cedar to a toxin in a nest box the toxin must leave the wood and enter the bird. There is simply not logical way that this can occur without converting the box to fine saw dust and making the bird take it into its lungs. What percent of a nest box would you say a nestling inhales into it lungs from hatching to fledgling? I would guess it is not measurable -- how about zero percent as good estimate?.

Some have suggest that we "label" cedar boxes as toxic. Again, this is nonsense and I would respectfully suggest that to label cedar, in a nest box situation as toxic to birds is without merit and is actually a harmful in the sense that a perfectly good nest box material might be abandoned for a one of lesser quality. I can imagine individuals taking down cedar nest box upon hearing such a warning.

By the way pine as natural by-products that can produce similar toxicologic responeses under certrain conditions -- like --- abietic acid for example.

Bernie Daniel


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2006 7:40 AM
Subject: Re: Using Cedar for Nestboxes

I have one question on cedar wood toxicity.

What and where does the whatever it is come from that keeps the "bugs" out of our cedar lined closets? The wood is cut, hammered into place and left there. No bugs forever. How does this work keeping them out? Even though the smell is not strong, the bugs are not there.

Evelyn


From: Dottie Hickory
Date: May 19, 2006
RE: Using Cedar for Nestboxes

I was given two cedar Wal-mart boxes some years ago. I let them "cure" for several winter months before I put them up. They are some of my best boxes....


From: John Schuster [mailto:wildwingco"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2006 11:25 AM
Subject: Re: Using Cedar for Nestboxes

Dear Friends,

Thank you Evelyn my point exactly!

Regardless if cedar wood is cut, is in dust or shaving form there will still be plicatic acid. Regardless of their little brains, do insects know something that we are refusing to admit here, that there is something toxic in cedar? It would appear so.

Yes, Bluebirds are only in their nest box for a short period of time, but the out gassing from cut cedar wood in your closet that keeps insects out, is much the same that can be found in the cedar wood being used for nest boxes.

It has been pointed out that Pine has some out gassing from abietic acid, but unlike plicatic acid (that will always be in the cedar) abietic acid is quickly cured or dried out of pine so this point is mutt.

To quote Bernie's statement, "Readers should realize that pet stores and research laboratories raise all kinds of mammals and birds on cedar chips for an entire lifetime (years at least) with not problem."

Sorry, but Bernie's statement is at best misleading.

I have several clients that are horse trainers that have told me that cedar shavings are deadly to horses. I just called a horse trainer that I know to confirm this and they told me that they "use rice hulls in their stables" and have never heard of cedar shavings being offered for horse bedding because of the "toxicity" of the wood. I do not know about the pet shops back east, but local pet shops that I do business with use crushed walnut shells or pine shavings for their bedding.

Dotty mentioned that she opens up her cedar nest boxes and leaves them outside for a time to help cure the cedar before allowing cavity nest birds a place to nest. This in my opinion is a compromise that should help diminish out gassing.

Yes, as Bernie states there is truth in that “All things are poison and nothing is without poison" and I might add "in every medication, there is a little poison."

Some of you may remember the student at Chico State University that drank 15 gallons of water and died because he diluted the sodium level in his system, plus everyone has heard of Curare, a known poison when injected into the blood stream via the tips of poison arrows and darts kills, but when taken orally, Curare is an effective drug that targets the heart to help people who suffer from heart disease.

Perhaps this is all hair spitting my friends, so use whatever wood you prefer to use for your nest boxes. We on the other hand, prefer to use wood for our nest boxes that we believe and know to be safe for the birds that will ultimately nest inside.

...John Schuster, ....
Cotati, CA



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2006 12:42 PM
Subject: Wasps and cedar nestboxes

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
I am actually a general contractor in my other life. We work an awful lot with cedar and redwood in construction of boat houses and high price decks and commercial jobs.

Wood boring Bumble Bees LOVE to bore the tunnels they use to cache food and pollen for their young in cedar or redwood. Termites, carpenter ants and the larger species of wood boring ants will completely eat a cedar house or deck to the ground if you do not add insecticides to these periodically. The new growth redwood is also prone to termite damage.

If cedar were deadly, wasps would NEVER build in a nestbox made from cedar.
If they did then the fumes should then kill their eggs or larva in the nest.
Cedar is actually one of their favorite woods that they carry water to and chew the soft fibers into a water soaked paper for their nests for their young.

I kept up to 16 bee hives as a hobbyist beekeeper for about 15 years. I made ALL of my bee hives out of cedar and the honeybees did fine and the cedar DID NOT repel the moths that feed on both honey bee combs and fur/hides.

I use heavy duty vacuum systems for all of my wood working equipment that sucks the dust from the machine to a collection system and exhausts the filtered air on outside and away from the air intake fans in my shop.

To me the main reason NOT to use CEDAR is because most of these trees we are cutting are hundreds if not thousands of years old and NONE of the major timber companies are replanting this species of tree. KK


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2006 2:08 PM
Subject: Re: Wasps and cedar nestboxes

Keith, are you talking about the Cedar that has the strong smell, not Western Cedar, that you use? I read many people recommend using Western Cedar, but not the Cedar we grow here that has the very strong smell.

Evelyn


From: Bernie Daniel [mailto:bdaniel"at"cinci.rr.com]
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2006 6:45 PM
Subject: Re: Using Cedar for Nestboxes

I addressed that in my comments. And just because you cannot smell it does not mean that the "bugs" can't. Have you been finding thousands of dead bugs and spiders it your cedar closet?

If you have a problem with my analysis of the medical and toxicology literature then give me yours. Worry about cedar toxicity in a nest box is a non-issue.

From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Saturday, May 20, 2006 9:18 AM
To: Evelyn Cooper; BLUEBIRD-L
Subject: Re: Wasps and cedar nestboxes

I think Bernie actually answered this again but Aromatic Eastern Cedar works at REPELLING moths or MASKING the scent of furs. The bug that eats wool and other clothes made from animal furs is actually the larva of a moth. Moths have incredible scent receptors in their antennae. In some species of moths the males can detect the scent of a receptive female moth at more than 1/2 mile. This same species of moth that eats fur also is the moth that gets in old bee hives and it actually feeds on the thin cases that surround the pupa of the honey bee larva just before they hatch out. The larva eat through the different wax cells in the hive spilling honey and they also will chew grooves in the wood and eat through the soft wood frames holding up the foundation of the hive.

I believe there were tests of both the Western Cedar and the Aromatic Eastern Red Cedar and the plicatic acid is actually more concentrated in the Western Cedar wood cells as it is not the aroma that is the acid or active ingredient. Again you will see woodpeckers build cavities in dead Aromatic Eastern Cedar and there are all types of wood boring insects that drill into this species of wood. We have our own sawmill for cutting lumber for nestboxes and we custom cut wood for cabinet builders and I unloaded another four large Eastern Cedar logs last night. Each of these logs have insect damage into the wood.

Again people cutting even a few boards and making a few nestboxes should take precautions with the dust created from saws and especially sanders. Humans are not all the same and John and my wife are allergic to cedar. Sandy is also extremely allergic to the scent and oils of any roses. It maybe that wood boring insects have developed an immunity to plicatic acid. It may be a myth that cedar "kills" insects.

I asked in the past if people who raised mealworms would put a bowl of live mealworms in a cedar chest and an equal number in a shoe box to see if it killed any. Again this would not really prove anything scientifically but remember that nestboxes are not sealed up and they nearly all have a huge air exchange from the entrance hole as it is normally 10% of the size of the floor area.

For example right now we have a 4 MPH breeze blowing from the SSW, if you divide this out the air is moving past my vented nestboxes at a speed of just under 6 feet per second pushing the air through my 1/2" vent slots and theoretically exchanging the top 3" of air in my nestboxes EVERY SECOND. So if there were ANY fumes in this nestbox then EVERY THREE seconds theoretically they would be exhausted out of the box and this is not counting the entrance hole or bottom drain holes or the volume taken up with baby birds and their nest. We are gusting to 9 MPH on average now every fifteen minutes.

Many nestboxes are in urban or suburban areas where in the summer they have Ozone alerts where the air is considered too dangerous for humans to go out and exercise vigorously.....I think birds flying would be considered vigorous exercise.

Again use common sense when thinking about a cedar chest in a sealed up house and a nestbox installed in the open air and exposed to sun and rain.

Off to build another 30+ nestboxes at a Wild Turkey Federation Women in the Outdoors event. KK


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Saturday, May 20, 2006 9:43 AM
Subject: Re: Using Cedar for Nestboxes

I asked the question because all dust is removed before the boards are installed in my closet. I was wondering then how could it continue to repel bugs for years on end.

You also said it was not the smell. What difference does it make if the bugs can smell it and we cannot? Just asking some questions.

I do not have a lot of literature, so maybe you should have addressed that to John Schuster who did present something if I remember right.

Evelyn

[subsequent post] Keith writes:

"It may be a myth that cedar "kills" insects."

Ah, ha, this is where I was confused! If it was only the scent that repelled them, I was wondering how it could kill them, since Bernie stated it is the saw dust that is inhaled that is offensive. I also wondered how the same thing could not happen in the nestbox, or at least have some toxic effect.

To answer Bernie's question, no, I don't find thousands of DEAD bugs and spiders in those closets. I don't find any insects there.


From: Bernie Daniel [mailto:bdaniel"at"cinci.rr.com]
Sent: Monday, May 29, 2006 9:24 AM
Subject: Re: Using Cedar for Nestboxes

I've been away for a week sorry about the delay -- but also I am tired dealing with this topic. I think it has been taken to the point of no return.

I am a certified toxicologist with an advanced degree and many years of experience and over a hundred publications -- a few on toxicity to birds. If you have more detailed knowledge I have that is fine. There are millions of folks who have more knowledge than I do. But just for the record you might state up front your credentials. What are they?

I fine with that -- no sweat.

If you feel that I do not know what I am talking I suggest that you find another toxicologist and let them address your questions as see if you can get from them the answers that you want. Then we will all be "happy".

But I am not interested in arguing or discussing any more a topic so obviously off the wall. This is not a toxicology issue.

So if you really want to believe cedar nest boxes are toxic, or even potentially toxic, fine believe.

Do not use cedar on your nest boxes then. It is your call.

But I can assure you that such a belief is total nonsense and total misinformation. Further I do not see how spreading misinformation or anti-science is a service to the bluebirding world?

As to the specific questions. Again I do not mean to be overbearing here but you obviously did not read completely the information that I wrote either of my responses on the topic. I'll try again.

1) the SMELL and the TOXICITY of cedar are NOT RELATED. They are caused by two DIFFERENT chemicals or two difference bunches of chemicals. The toxic agents in cedar do not smell -- they are NON VOLATILE are normal temperatures.

Stated another way the AROMA (smell) of cedar has nothing to do with the rare human lung toxicity associated with 2 -5% of cedar wood workers who have INHALED cedar DUST into their LUNGS for MANY years. I just can not say it any clearer then that. What percent of a nest box wood do you think the chicks breath in during their 16 day stray anyway!!!???

2) What differences does it make if bugs can smell cedar and humans can't. Clearly the bugs are what you want to repeal aren't they -- if they could not smell it I guess you would have holes in your woolens then.

You are not trying to repeal humans are you? Blood hounds can track scents that humans can't -- this is no mystery or oddity is it? Many animals can smell as see things that humans can't. The may be a layer of smell very close to the wood. And as a matter of fact cedar does become less effective as it loses its aroma.

That is my final comment on this topic thanks for your time.

Bernie Daniel


From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"verizon.net]
Sent: Monday, May 29, 2006 10:14 AM
Subject: Re: Using Cedar for Nestboxes

Toxic or non-toxic, cedar is just too expensive for this skinflint resident of New Hampshire, where White Pine is king.

Bruce Burdett SW NH


From: freeland
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2007 7:14 PM
Subject: Help Me Out / Wal-Mart BB boxes Ceader Works or Whatever Co. they are?????

I installed 2 BB boxes back in early March bought at Wal-Mart to replace my old ones usually I have birds by now but I don't at this point in time. Has anyone used them with success.( I am from the Dayton,Ohio area)  Theres a few things I don't like about the boxes the floor from front to back is 3.5in rather than 4in. and at the top of the door a good bit of light comes in which may scare the birds off the gap is there to let the door pass the roof when opening as these open from the top part of the door. THANKS
                                                                                    Keith

From: Shari Kastner [mailto:smk"at"teamv.com]
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2007 9:02 AM
Subject: RE: Help Me Out / Wal-Mart BB boxes Ceader Works or Whatever Co. they are?????

Hi Keith,
 
I have three of the Wal-Mart boxes on my trail.  Last year there was a bluebird choosing between a Peterson and a Wal-Mart box...it chose the Wal-Mart box!!  I am trying two more styles this year, the Gilwood and the Gilbertson.  I'll see how well they do on my trail.
 
Shari Kastner

New Berlin, WI


From: Johanna Muench [mailto:jmuench"at"gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2007 9:47 PM
Subject: Re: Help Me Out / Wal-Mart BB boxes Ceader Works or Whatever Co. they are?????

Hi Keith--
I have 2 of those boxes. To get around the emt pole mount, I just attached the pole mount farther back on the bottom to clear the front door swinging down. Both have held up ok, though I notice they get much more rain blowing in them from the front hole and back vent not
having enough coverage. One roof cracked open, which I have
gorilla-glued back together, and the other had less overhang in the back than the other one, so rain dripped down into the back vent. For that one I took a piece of aluminum stair edging (some kind of L shaped goldish colored scrap) and made a little 'awning' to keep the rain out. I've had to make modifications to both of them for one reason or another in the course of one year, such as adding kerfs or hardware cloth ladders for the tree swallows, and I can't winterize them as easily as the springer chalets, but they were really inexpensive. I figured until I researched more, made my own nestboxes, and knew how committed I was going to get into this (silly me! the dedication was immediate and I should have known!!!) they would do just fine.

I put them and 2 springer chalets out at the same time last spring, and bluebirds snagged one chalet and tree swallows grabbed a Walmart one. Blues fledged 5 little cutie-patooties, and Tres fledged 4 little fuzzballs. Monitoring is easy with the flip-down front door, but any loose nesting material can get wedged in the crack and then it is hard to close the front door again. I replaced the larger roost box with a walmart one again this spring and just today saw Mr & Mrs Blue making a big fuss over it and there is a little tiny nest ring started in it. Woo hoooo! All my nestboxes are on telescoping EMT pole, waxed, and with a stovepipe baffle.

So for the price to get a bunch of nestboxes up quick, I think they are fine. I'm still partial to the chalet because I can make it easily and do the modifications I want upfront.

Best of luck on your bb trails! :)
Johanna
Macedon NY


From: DrDodson"at"aol.com [mailto:DrDodson"at"aol.com]
Sent: Friday, April 27, 2007 2:11 PM
Subject: Re: Wal-mart/Lowes boxes

Walmart and Lowes in Jefferson City, Missouri, both sell a smaller retangular floor box made of relatively thin cedar.   They have a slanted top that slopes to the front.   They open to the front with the hinge on the bottom.   They have a 1.5 inch diameter entrance hole.   I have a few of these.   Some I purchased before I started reading about what was a "good" box.  A few have been given to me.    I have had pretty good luck with them, but I have made some modifications.    I put a 1.25 inch metal hole restrictor on them because I think they are a bit small for the bluebirds (although I had 5 bluebirds fledge from one last year that I had not put a restrictor on).   This allows the chickadees and prothonatory warblers to use them.   I also did not think the overhang was adequate (almost non existant)  so I put a 12 by 12 inch roof on the top of the original roof.   I glued a 12 by 12 shingle to a 12 by 12 inch piece of corrugated plastic and then screwed this onto the roof.   You have to predrill holes or the wood will split as it is very thin.   I do not recommend these boxes, but my smaller birds really seem to like them. 

Jack Dodson
Jefferson City, Missouri

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