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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

Nestbox (Roofs)

Also see postings on Double (Echo) Roofs

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: beabud"at"snet.net
Date: Sat, 09 Feb 2002 16:34:19 -0500
Subject: Thin Cedar shingles

Picked up some cedar shingles, thought of extending the roof a liitle more on the woodlink bluebird houses..Would screw (small ones) to the existing roof is that okay to do...I know they like to see the hole, only extending it about another inch..Will the extra layer on the roof cause any problems????


From: "Keith & Sandy Kridler" kridler"at"1starnet.com
Subject: Re:Thin cedar shingles
Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 08:52:55 -0600

These shingles would be good at adding a larger "shade roof" IF you leave an air gap between the old roof and new added on shingle roof. Anyone adding ANY double layer of material to wood box tops needs to either leave an air gap or completely glue/seal the new roof to the old one to prevent a seam where water will wick in between the layers and rot the wood. The exception to this is if you bend thin metal and completely cover the roof and roof edges where no moisture can reach the roof like Jack Finch does with his boxes.

The best size of an air gap is 3/4" as this limits the amount of radiated heat from the new top roof to the old roof. It allows moisture to evaporate between the roofs reducing levels of mold and wood eating fungi. 3/4" sections of old water hose, plastic pipe or even narrow wood strips can be used between the two roofs.

With wood shingles you need to under stand that less nails and smaller nails are better when attaching the shingle!!! You only put TWO nails per wood shingle no matter how wide a shingle is as swelling and contracting of the shingle will split it in two if an extra nail is placed towards the center of the thick part of the shingle!

In this case you would use four thin nails, two on the left side and two on the right side of the roof so that each nail was placed about 3/4" from each corner of the original roof. Just tap the nails in snug and the shingle should last very well. KK


From: beabud"at"snet.net
Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 13:41:36 -0500
Subject: Shingles

If i put an extra overhang on birdhouse would it be better to cut the shingle so it attaches at the end rather than laying it completely right over the whole roof???Then i really wont need to make an air gap etc. i would attach it with just two screws so it sticks out about 2 inches??


From: beabud"at"snet.net
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2002 16:45:40 -0500
Subject: Shingle roof and caulk

I put a very thin piece of cedar shingle over a existing roof in order to have it protrude over the hole more..And put a piece of dowel at the top and only used two screws...I used a little bit of caulk on the outside at top along dowel...Is caulk okay to use and putting a thin piece on top..


From: beabud"at"snet.net
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2002 14:33:48 -0500
Subject: Confused on two roofs

If i put a thin layer cedar shingle over existing roof and seal it well how can water get under it???? How would one increase the roof overhang then... I have a box that needs more of overhang over hole, what other ways are there if putting a thin layer is not such a good idea???


From: "Bruce Burdett" blueburd"at"srnet.com
Subject: Re: Confused on two roofs
Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 09:10:26 -0500

Beabud,
If I were thinking about enlarging the size of a roof, I would consider using plywood with exterior grade glue. You could cut it to overhang as much as you wish. If it gets hot there, I'd also consider raising it 1/2" or so - using spacers - from the present roof.

My guess is that 3/8" or 1/2" plywood would be appropriate, but it comes in several thicknesses. Be SURE to use 'exterior grade.' 'Interior grade' will delaminate in short order. You want something which will last many years. Bruce Burdett, SW NH


From: "Bobby Wilson" bluebirdbob1"at"bresnan.net
Subject: Re: Confused on two roofs
Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 14:42:26 +0000

If I were going to add a second roof I would not glue it directly to the old roof. I would leave an air space between the two. If you don't there is no place for the heat to go except into the box. The air space could be as simple as two struts on top of the old roof and then glue the new one onto that.

Bob Wilson...


From: "Bruce Burdett" blueburd"at"srnet.com
Subject: ply
Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 09:37:12 -0500

Beabud, et al,
I'd go for plywood for the false roof because it won't split. Wood shingles, especially cheap ones, are pretty split-prone Bruce Burdett, in SW NH


From: "Bruce Burdett" blueburd"at"srnet.com
Subject: Re: Confused on two roofs
Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 09:57:29 -0500

Bob, Beabud,(sic) et al,

When I said 'exterior grade glue' I was not suggesting that the false roof be glued to the present roof. That would be a BAD idea. I meant that the plywood you buy should be marked 'exterior grade glue,' meaning that waterproof glue was used in manufacture. I suggested, as Bob did, that the false roof be RAISED from the present roof with spacers of some sort. He suggested 'struts.' I've used a 1/2" section of old garden hose around each screw. But these spacers can be made of almost any scrap - wood, plastic, steel, rubber, foam, etc. This space prevents a lot of the heat from reaching the present, or true, roof, and helps keep the interior cooler in summer. Some folks paint the top of the false roof some light color, like white, to REFLECT some of the heat away, but I'm an anti-paint person. All my houses ever get is linseed oil, and they weather to a dull grey after a year.

Bruce Burdett, SW NH


Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 14:50:23 -0400
From: Haleya Priest mablue"at"gis.net
Subject: Re: Confused on two roofs

Haleya Priest Amherst MA
Depending where you are in the country - (this is the critical point) - an oversized roof and good ventilation can be enough to provide enough shade to keep the internal box temperatures below the danger point.It sure is easier to make an oversized roof than make 2 roofs with a spacer. Keep it simple! And for that matter, have a normal sized roof and when it gets to be too hot, simply tack on a large piece of cardboard over the existing roof! IMHO I would like to hear what others have to say about this matter. So often it is a matter of personal taste, but I am interested in whether others think that the double roof is unnecessary at least in northern climates. :-) H


From: beabud"at"snet.net
Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 14:35:40 -0500
Subject: Roof issue

I'm not building from scratch. I have the prebuilt houses but thought a thin strip of cedar shingle attached with two screws and a dowel would be okay in order to enlarge(extend) the overhang only...Putting spacers in etc does not seem good to me water i would think could get under..I guess another alternative is to take a small piece of wood and put it at the end more and then screw a small piece of shingle or whatever on that..Thay way most of the roof would be exposed except the very end..And caulk the end of wood that faces up so water wont leak through..Hows that sound...This way most of the roof would still be exposed???


From: beabud"at"snet.net
Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 14:43:11 -0500
Subject: Roof repairs

I have read everything everywhere but still have not found a good answer to it all..Unless one is building from scratch and can miter things well etc there still are no convincing theories on repairing existing roofs.....I've spent hours reading sites etc... Also just thought can reverse what i said in previous e-mail and put piece of wood under existing roof and screw a little overhang from there.......


From: "Dan Hanan" danhan7"at"earthlink.net
Subject: a roof repair solution
Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 20:07:58 -0600

My solution to repairing nest box roofs has been to cut, from an asphalt shingle for residences, a piece the same size as the roof and attach it to its top. I suggest using four small wood screws (one in each corner). There will probably be some water leakage around each screw, but it should not be enough to bother the nest. Of course, the asphalt will weather to black after a number of years and thus will become a hot roof. At that time, I will either paint the roof white or replace the asphalt.

Painting suggests another, perhaps easier, solution. There is a sealant sold for repair of mobile home roofs. I don't remember the correct name of the sealant, but it comes in quart cans, is white in color, and can be spread with a disposable paint brush or wide putty knife. I have not done this and have no idea how long a roof covered with this sealant would last. But it would be very easy to completely cover an old roof with the sealant.

Dan Hanan
Houston, TX


Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 19:49:10 -0800
From: Linda Violett lviolett"at"earthlink.net
Subject: Re:roof repair/sealant

Linda Violett - Yorba Linda, Calif.

The white roof sealant you describe is probably "Elastomer." In hot So. Calif., we use it on shopping center roofs. Rebates are available for those who use it because it keeps buildings cooler (reflectant qualities) which conserve A/C energy costs.


From: BBBMV"at"aol.com
Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2002 00:47:00 EST
Subject: Re: Confused on two roofs

In Ohio the only time I lost bluebirds to heat was when I had boxes positioned so that the afternoon sun shone in the entrance hole. (This was when I was just starting out and learning by trial and error.) Later on one summer was very hot and I lost quite a few eggs to dehydration, but no youngsters. One day the temp. got to 104 and a box in full sun with 5 young did just fine. I had about a half inch gap above the front opening door and two 3/8 inch vent holes on the top of each side, that was all the ventilation I had in any of my boxes. When I lost all those eggs to dehydration I had the boxes on a fence along a blacktop road only about six feet away. The air from the road was blowing into the entrance holes. In the north say north of Tennessee I think probably the use of double roofs is unnecessary, but here in Florida for boxes in the sun it is a good idea. But here we can usually put boxes in the shade of tall loblolly pines for afternoon shade and not use the double roofs. Bill Davis


From: "Bruce Burdett" blueburd"at"srnet.com
Subject: Re: Confused on two roofs
Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2002 07:09:54 -0500

The double roof - with air-space between - is used more by people down in the southern states where the temperatures often get up in the 100s and stay there. Up here in New England double roofs probably aren't that necessary. They wouldn't do any harm as a precaution, and they do let you extend the roof above the hole (as a predator-deterrent) as far as you please. I've made a couple just because they're kind of fun to make, and they give the house a rather cool, high-tech look. (accidental pun) Bruce Burdett, SW NH


Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 11:12:16 -0400
From: Haleya Priest mablue"at"gis.net
Subject: Plywood for roof question

Haleya Priest Amherst MA
I know we've gone over this already -but I didn't keep track. Am wondering what kind of plywood to use for roofs, what thickness, and should I paint them, water seal them or what? THANKS! :-) H


From: "Fawzi P. Emad femad <at> fpemad <dot> com
Subject: Re: Plywood for roof question
Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 13:21:52 -0400

Hi Haleya. You should use "exterior" grade plywood. It does not have to be a high grade. If you can find A/C exterior or B/C exterior, that would be fine. The thickness should be at least 5/8" or more in order to provide insulation. It is OK to seal them if you want, but do not let them go dark, so add some whitish paint to the sealant so as not to darken the wood (to prevent the box from getting hot in the sun.) If you do not paint or seal them, they'll turn into a gray color, and will deteriorate with age, but will last several seasons.

Fawzi

Fawzi Emad in Laytonsville, Maryland
femad"at"comcast.net


From: hubertrap"at"webtv.net (Joe Huber)
Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 13:30:58 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Plywood for roof question

Hello Heleya, Use exterior ply for roofs 3/4"thick. It doesn't need anything on it. Almost all solid wood warps and exterior ply is less likely to warp. Joe Huber ...


From: Adthomas10"at"cs.com
Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 20:12:00 EDT
Subject: Re: Plywood for roof question

Haleya
I have used 3/4 inch exterior grade plywood for several boxes. I coated them with linseed oil. They are 3 yrs. old and holding up very well. . . Make sure you use "exterior" and not interior grade plywood.

Dan Thomas
New Providence PA


Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2003 21:21:49 -0500
From: Michael Barratt cantona"at"optonline.net
Subject: Roof overhang distance & predation

All,

I have taken over a sucessful golf course trail which has well made, but unfortunately almost exclusively tree-mounted boxes. We have been fledging upwards of 50 EABL & a similar number of TRES for the last couple of seasons from approx. 35 boxes. I am however concerned about predation (racoon) as we lost 2 nests last season. I realize that good pole mounted boxes away from trees, posts etc with stovepipe guards are the ideal solution, but this is not an easy option on this heavily wooded golf course with narrow fairways.

This winter I am therefore considering increasing the roof top overhang from the current 3 inches to 6 inches. (I am using wooden boxes with an 8" hole to floor depth, 1.5" thick entrance with metal hole guard & standard 1.5" diameter round hole). Does anyone know how far a raccoon sitting on top of a box can reach in - I know a 2-3 inch roof overhang is not enough. Will a 6 inch overhang keep nests out of reach?

Appreciate your feedback.

Mike, NW NJ.


From: "Fawzi P. Emad femad <at> fpemad <dot> com
Subject: Re: Roof overhang distance & predation
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2003 09:18:33 -0500

On some, the most exposed boxes, consider putting a Ron Kingston guard (8" x 2' stove pipe.) This will cost under $3 per installation. I have no experience with raccoon predation, but I think they are able to reach quite far into the nestbox, and they can come around a long roof extension. Raccoons cannot beat the Kingston guard... Why do you think it is not practical in this case? Woods and narrow fairway are still OK to use these guards.

A *sturdy* metal guard to lengthen the entrance to about 3" should prevent the raccoons from reaching to the bottom of a deep box like you have, I think it is worth trying. A smart raccoon could use his elbow joint to reach far inside the box, but KK can better tell us how far he can reach...

Fawzi

Fawzi Emad in Laytonsville, Maryland
femad"at"comcast.net


Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2003 09:55:51 -0500
From: "Rebecca J." Rebecca
Subject: RE: Roof overhang distance & predation

Hi, Mike,

I agree with Fawzi that a long roof extension will not protect against raccoons. If I understand your situation correctly--that you're talking about tree-mounted boxes--the raccoons can easily cling to the tree and access the box from below. Additionally, I think you'd have to have pretty deep boxes to keep the bbirds safe from these smart, long-armed bandits.

I watch raccoons almost nightly raiding my birdfeeders, one of which is a squirrel-proof suet feeder that is attached to the trunk of a tree. Although it is squirrel-proof, it is no problemo for the raccoon. Raccoons have also raided nestboxes containing house wrens. I've had no predation with my nestbox that has contained bluebirds for five seasons now; it is protected from beneath with a Ron Kingston guard, which the raccoon apparently can't climb.

Cornell's bluebird network says that a mesh "box" in front of the entrance hole will keep out cats and raccoons http://birds.cornell.edu/birdhouse/bhbasics/nestboxplans.htm#Predator%20Guard%20Plans
but if it were me I'd consider wrapping something metal, such as inexpensive aluminum flashing, around the tree below the box.

Rebecca Johnson
Columbia, MD


From: "Mr Tony" mrtony8"at"mchsi.com
Subject: Re: Roof overhang distance & predation
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2003 17:44:31 -0600

Mike,
I have had considerable experience with 'coons in my boxes on our golf course. even with predator guards they are tenacious once they figure out that these boxes contain meals. they dig their claws into the wood and hang on for dear life. hanging by one hand, they then reach in the hole and eat the contents, just like popcorn. I can't afford NOT to have individual poles with proper guards on all boxes. I have found that putting them along the vegetation line on the fairways is optimal, although every place i have put up a box, we are successful at fledging blues. those near trees produce carolina chickadees and brown headed nuthatches. even the occasional great crested flycatcher. I also place boxes near the tee boxes, as the golfers are always curious about "their" bluebirds. A running total is placed on the bulletin board in the clubhouse each Sunday afternoon, after our run. Allowing golfers to assist makes them proud and they will actually watch out for the boxes when we are not there.

Phil Berry
Gulf Breeze, Florida


From: klubea"at"comcast.net
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2003 20:00:40 -0500
Subject: Coppertop roofs

Are Coppertop roofs bad to have/use on top of wood on roofing. I question it, as it will not breath as well. But i then read about people using silicone to seal their roofs. That basically would have the same affect, which would limit the breathing. Also how come pine gets more mildew than cedar when closed up tight during the winter
Thanks
In CONNECTICUT


From: "Keith & Sandy Kridler" kridler"at"1starnet.com
Subject: Copper Top roofs
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 07:56:29 -0600

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
Mold is a living organism feeding on some form of "organic" foods....They can feed and grow on microscopic "food" that can collect on chemically treated wood or the "food" that clings to vinyl siding or even painted wood, plastic or metal. Insides of nestboxes can be plastered with fecal dropping or the dander from birds feathers and with moisture can create a wonderful environment for fungus and mold to thrive in. I expect natural cavities to be filled with thousands of different forms of these organisms...I expect the birds to be accustomed to living with these...

IF you wanted to remove the mold from nestboxes or bird baths use the common mixtures of bleach and water you would use to disinfect your kitchen counters. Remember the organisms will return as soon as the level of chlorine lowers to the "safe" level for them. I have cedar and redwood nestboxes that are "green" with growth of fungi & mold that the birds have used for many years.

Adding a metal roof that hangs down PAST the edges of the wood roof edges will prolong the life of the wood. Nearly all organisms that feed on wood and make our boxes rot need moisture. By keeping water out of the wood pieces the boxes will last far longer.

Heart wood pine from old growth forests makes lumber that has lasted for hundreds of years on unpainted buildings. "New growth" timber will produce lumber from cedar, redwood or pine that will NOT be nearly as long lived when exposed to the elements.... KK


From: hubertrap"at"webtv.net (Joe Huber)
Date: Sat, 12 Apr 2003 22:43:56 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: exterior plywood for roofs

Hi Heleya, For nest box roofs either 5/8 or3/4inch exterior ply will work. I prefer the3/4". As most people learn over time any type solid type wood warps on a roof but exterior ply remains flat. Good luck, Heleya, on your new roofs. Joe Huber, Venice, Fl.

...



Date: Sun, 13 Apr 2003 06:42:55 -0400
Subject: Re: exterior plywood for roofs
From: john mann oak18"at"juno.com

I have been using cedar fence pickets for building blue bird boxes. One six foot picket will make one house. They look nice and will hold up in any weather. I found the pickets at Home Depot. John Mann


Date: Sun, 13 Apr 2003 14:08:45 -0700
From: John Schuster wildwingco"at"earthlink.net
Subject: Re: exterior plywood for roofs

Dear Haleya and friends, I would recommend 3/4 inch plywood. ...
John Schuster, conservationist and owner
Wild Wing Company....


From: Larry A Broadbent, rockets"at"mnsi.net
Sent: Friday, February 13, 2004 12:15 PM
Subject: Plywood Roofs For Nestboxes

Plywood Roofs for nestboxes?

Could anyone now using 3/4" thick Plywood roofs for their Bluebird nestboxes let me know your thoughts? I'm considering using 3/4" MDO ( Material Density Overlaid) Exterior Plywood for my Bluebird nestboxes. I make the rest of my nest boxes from kiln dried Cypress and or California Redwood. I'm just considering on going to 3/4" Plywood roofs. Any thoughts?

Regards, Larry A Broadbent, Chatham, ON, Canada



From: Larry A Broadbent, rockets"at"mnsi.net
Sent: Friday, February 13, 2004 12:41 PM
Subject: Re: Plywood Roofs For Nestboxes

Heath, MDO Plywood is what the Highway Departments use to make their wood highway signs from, It is the best exterior plywood on the market. It is the type of plywood that Sign makers make their wood signs from. It won't warp and it is waterproof. Regards, Larry

From: John Schuster, wildwingco"at"earthlink.net
Sent: Friday, February 13, 2004 6:16 PM t
Subject: Re: Plywood Roofs For Nestboxes

Dear Larry and friends,

I see no reason why you shouldn't be able to use 3/4" plywood, as many have used it and we use it mostly for our Barn Owl nesting boxes.

The only challenge to using plywood is that it will not last as long as other materials (i.e. lumber), unless it is treated (on the outside only) with a wood preservative product (i.e. Superdeck or Penofin.) Though Penofin is a superior product to Superdeck, I like to use Superdeck as it is largely composed of linseed oil.

http://www.superdeck.com/
http://www.penofin.com/

Furthermore, I recommend using the heaviest pigmented stains as the more pigment there is in the stain the longer it will hold up to the elements and when using plywood this is very important. The top 2 heaviest pigmented stains by Superdeck that we like to use are:
Century Redwood and Coastal Gray.

Always, apply stains wearing protective gear (3 stage mask and nitrate gloves), and let the nest boxes cure for at least 48 hours (Superdeck recommended to me 3 years ago 24 hours) before installation. ...

John Schuster
Wild Wing Company


From: Lana Hunt [mailto:lanahunt"at"kcp.uky.edu]
Sent: Thursday, June 17, 2004 9:40 AM|

Subject: blue bird house

There is a beautiful bluebird house at a bookstore here in my town, it meets all criteria, but it has a brass slopped roof, what do you knowledgeable bluebirders feel about this? Would it make it too warm when the sun hits it? I'd love to have it but only want to get it if it will be useful. Thanks, Lana


From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"tds.net]
Sent: Thursday, June 17, 2004 9:43 AM
Re: blue bird house

Lana, et al, I think I've seen a couple of these houses with metal roofs, though the ones I've seen were copper, not brass. I doubt that the ones you've seen have brass roofs; they'd just be too expensive. I never liked the copper-roofed houses, chiefly because of the summer heat factor. They could be insulated in various ways to make them less lethal, but I'd prefer to start with a proper house in the first place, rather than with something that needed to be retrofitted. Bruce Burdett, SW NH


From: Paula [mailto:PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com]
Sent: Friday, June 18, 2004 2:49 AM
Re: blue bird house

I think copper is a beautiful accent metal in its place, but would personally only use it for a decorative bird house. I would be a little concerned with possible heavy metal runoff toxicity from a copper metal roof. If some of the runoff were to leach into the nestbox, it could be dangerous. Storm runoff from copper roofs on people houses can be toxic to plants growing near point of storm runoff and dangerous to animals as well. I would think a young nestling might be especially at risk. I wouldn't risk it personally, and then there is always the heat factor. Paula Z Powell (Central) Ohio


From: Lana Hunt [mailto:lanahunt"at"kcp.uky.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 12:53 AM
Subject: blue bird house

Thanks to everyone who responded to my question about the copper roofed bluebird house I was longing for. I have not purchased it, though I want to every time I go into the book store. The copper roof is on top of 1 inch wood, and there is a plexie glass? ( or hard clear plastic) container built within the wood box, that was removable with a screw driver, the wooden box opened to the side with hinges. Any idea what's behind the inside container thing? Lana


From: Kelley Family [mailto:herbsho"at"epcwc.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 7:41 AM
Re: blue bird house

I think it is there so the nest/nestlings do not fall out when the hinged door is opened. You should be able to slide it up or remove it for cleaning.


From: Mary Beth Roen [mailto:mbroen"at"hotmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 7:46 AM
RE: blue bird house

Lana and all, Perhaps the plastic box inside is to prevent nestlings from falling out (I've never had this happen)when you open the box to monitor it, or to make it easy to clean out when the nestlings fledge. Does the whole plastic box lift out of the wooden box? My concerns are that it would restrict air movement in the box so it could get quite hot in it, and would also trap moisture in, so if the nest got wet, it wouldn't dry out. I would think seriously about it before purchasing a box like this. Mary Roen, River Falls, WI


From: Dean E Sheldon Jr [mailto:seedbed"at"accnorwalk.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 8:38 AM
RE: blue bird house

Why do we persist in beating this dead horse? There are dozens of excellent bluebird boxes out there which meet all of the criteria established by NABS and which have been field tested by experienced bluebirders all across the land. Go to the Bluebird-L Reference Guide and you will find everything that anyone would want to know about suitable nest box designs. That's the kind of box to look for when setting up a bluebird trail....forget the gimmicks and the artsy-craftsy stuff. Housing bluebirds is serious business. Dean Sheldon in Greenwich, Ohio


From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 8:48 AM
Subject: Copper roof nestboxes Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant Texas

Many nestbox builders cover the roof of the nestbox with some sort of metal to protect the wood roof and nestbox from excess water. Copper oxide leaching from the roof should not hurt the bluebirds any more than humans using copper water pipes and drinking the water as these pipes slowly dissolve from the inside out over many years. To prevent the copper roof from oxidizing you simply need to apply a good coat of clear varnish every couple of years to seal out the air and acid rain reaching the roof metal. You should avoid using most metals in your vegetable garden that oxidize quickly and go into the soil. Zinc, lead, aluminum, copper, brass (contains copper & tin) magnesium ETC. come to mind as high concentrations of their oxides can stunt plant growth or are absorbed by the plants and will be consumed by humans or animals. It takes and AWFUL lot of some of these metals in powered form spread over an entire garden to affect some plants! I think the Plexiglas in this box is going to be just a "window" under the wood door to prevent the nestlings from falling out when children open the box. Check to see where the nestbox is made!!!! China is making many different styles of nestboxes now with these Plexiglas sides and selling them under the National Geographic Society label and MANY other labels....If it has doors, windows, fancy catches or double latches and metal roofs then only the Chinese can put this much labor into the nestbox. They sell these by the container load for about $3 a nestbox!!!! Middle men in the USA tack on another $25 to $40 "handling" charge. Plexiglas nestcup would not be any different than the common PVC nestboxes at preventing air and moisture movement out of nests. Caren Cooper at Cornell is assembling nestcup temperature data right now and will have some good data for us this next year. I am amazed at how hot or cold these eggs can be during incubation and still hatch! Think about baby birds that go from naked, cold blooded creatures that weigh as much as a nickel and in 18 days they are wearing a heavy coat of insulating feathers with internal temperatures over 100*F and weigh as much as 6 or 7 quarters do. Their parents need to find them the correct diet of insects at the correct size at the correct time while inside nestbox temperatures can commonly fluctuate 70 degrees F in the 35 days it takes to go from the first egg to fledgling...All without being able to carry water to their young! All this from birds as young as 7 months old who have never read ANYTHING on how to CARE, HOUSE and FEED bluebirds:-))))KK


From: Lana Hunt [mailto:lanahunt"at"kcp.uky.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2004 6:52 AM
Subject: bluebird house

Thanks to all of you who responded regarding my questions about the "fancy" copper roofed bluebird house (it says, hand made in Kentucky, by the way). I have decided to forget about it except for decorative purposes, with the entrance blocked, and stick with regulation bluebird houses, as there have been two successful nestings in the one I put up this spring, and I'm hoping when I get to the farm this weekend for a third, they had 3 nests last year in the hollow fence post. My husband reminds me of that constantly when I get in these moods, of wondering what I can do to keep them around, that they amazingly survived all these years before I came along with the natural habitat of a farm, with lots of fields and old trees with cavities. But, like the wonderful husband he is, he goes along with whatever hair brained idea I come up with. But, he too, enjoys the bluebirds, and last summer we had the wonderful experience of rescuing a small humming bird, hand feeding it with an eye dropper and then putting it on the feeder, and watching it successfully fly into a tree by itself ( I have photos if anyones interested). I grew up on that farm and took things for granted at that time, that I now realize are precious and worth preserving. I have purchased the books recommended by the group, but I learn so much more from you, who are experienced and don't mind sharing that with us beginners, again, thanks so much. Lana


From: Joe Huber [mailto:hubertrap"at"webtv.net]
Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2004 8:42 AM
Subject: Re: bluebird house

Hi Lana, Yes the Bluebirds have survived all these years without your help, thank god! We have been lucky because future generations wouldn't be able to say that without the help many have provided. I will even go further and suggest you set up a bluebird nest box near the hollow fence post you mentioned. The man made nest box will greatly increase the survival rate over the fence post cavity. Bluebirds have already made many adjustments over the past 100 years to survive, but there is a limit to what they can do. If our goal is to help the bluebirds then provide nesting where they still try to use natural cavities. Most of these end up in disaster anyway. Joe Huber,Venice Florida


From: Haleya Priest [mailto:mablue"at"gis.net]
Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2004 9:15 AM
Re: bluebird house Haleya Priest Amherst MA

Some of us go to lengths to keep our bluebirds around and happy. But you know - in my old age, I am starting to learn that they DO seem to get on quite well by themselves - particularly if we set them up for success from the beginning. That includes knowing what precautions you need to take from your specific geographical location. That might mean more or less ventilation. It might mean predator baffles depending on your predators. It will mean careful monitoring of house sparrow populations in your area. If you have house sparrows, you'll need to either move your boxes to a location without house sparrows or monitor your boxes carefully and use active or passive house sparrow control when necessary. If they don't like where your box is sited they just won't use it. If a box isn't being used, MOVE IT!!! I've moved boxes 20 feet and then attracted bluebirds where I hadn't attracted them for seasons on end. I hope everyone is having a successful season! :-) H



From: Jeff Aufmann [mailto:jaufmann "at"ameritech.net]
Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 2004 12:26 PM
Subject: Peterson house with a copper roof

I recently saw a Peterson house with its roof covered in copper. I have seen this on smaller wren and chickadee houses, but never on a BB house. Some people like the look, and it probably does add durability, but I was wondering about temperature effects of a copper topped house out in the sun. This particular Peterson house had plenty of ventilation, but was made only of 3/4" cedar, and lacked the 2x4 that is designed to go under the roof.

Jeff
Cary, IL


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Wednesday, December 22, 2004 1:10 PM
RE: Peterson house with a copper roof

Hi Jeff, I didn't see a reply, so you might want to check http://www.bestofbbml.audubon-omaha.org/boxesroofs.htm where there is an archived thread on this topic. Bet


From: dievarieties.md"at"verizon.net [mailto:dievarieties.md"at"verizon.net]
Sent: Monday, June 27, 2005 12:24 PM
Subject: Blue Bird Houses

Hi All,

I am new to the list. I live in western New York and am just starting to get into bluebirds. I have a few houses up, and saw a couple of male BB's, but no nesting activity. I do believe that one was very interested, but got into a squable with a TRES and that is who used the house and had 5 little ones which the last one left today. Two other houses had successful CHIC clutches. My question is, do EABL like flat house roofs or peaked. I have both up, but I must say that the peaked houses stay a lot cooler than the flat roof houses. I have to say, that a lot of you are very informative and I appreciated all your advice and what you do for the bird population!!!

Sincerely,

Michael


From: KimMarie Markel [mailto:auroramn"at"verizon.net]
Sent: Monday, June 27, 2005 1:07 PM
Subject: Re: Blue Bird Houses

Michael,
Welcome to the list. Where in Western NY? I have houses up in Varysburg (Wyoming County). Personally, the bluebird pairs I've had here use either NABS or modified Peterson boxes. My Chalet style (peaked roof) has never has any BB takers (just TRES and BCCH).

Don't forget the bird bath! With our above normal temps I'm seeing the blues really drinking and enjoying the fresh water I've been putting out for them (it may even help attract them to your property). Yesterday evening I was able to see 2 adults and 4 young bluebirds enjoying the water - today is another hot one, so as soon as I leave work the first thing on my to do list is to put fresh water out for them.

Don't give up hope on a pair yet - last year I had the same problem with BB and TRES squabbles - but after the TRES fledged the BB pair came back in early/mid July and used the paired box they initially wanted, they laid four eggs and all four successfully hatched and fledged (we had a "backyard full of blue" at the end of the summer). This year I had a bachelor male who sang for a mate for 3 weeks, finally he attracted one and they are currently incubating four eggs (due to hatch just after the holiday weekend).

kimmarie :)
Buffalo/Varysburg, Western NY


From: Gretchen Cornell [mailto:gcornnell"at"diocesecpa.org]
Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2005 11:46 AM
Subject: Nestbox Roof Question

While we are on the subject of houses I have been thinking about adding another roof to my houses. When I set up a temporary solar shield with an overhang of 2 inches all the way around my BBs seem to like it (once they got used to it). The overhang does shade the house much better and seems to keep the sides more dry when it rains. What are the cons of adding another wood slab on top of the existing roof? Would this help would be predators somehow?
Gretchen
South Central PA
gcornnell"at"diocesecpa.org


From: Brucemac1"at"aol.com [mailto:Brucemac1"at"aol.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2005 5:13 PM
Subject: Re: Nestbox Roof Question

Hi Gretchen,
Roof overhang is an excellent idea..!! On many of my boxes, which are all front openers, doors hinged at the bottom, I use a 14" x 14" x 3/8" plywood roof.

I keep the roof piece nearly flush with the rear panel and provide as much as 5" overhang at the front. Not only does this provide protection from the sun, but the large overhang at the front makes it difficult, if not impossible for four-legged predators to gain access.

Back to the roof: I also use 5 - 1/2" long sections of nylon tubing, as spacers, to hold another 14" x 14" piece of mahogany doorskin 1/2" above the initial roof. This is an effective heat shield.

The doorskin is 1/8" thick and requires at least two coats of Minwax 'Spar Urethane, on both sides and edges to seal it from the weather. Even then, it'll only give you a few years service.

Hope this is useful info for you.

Bruce Macdonald, SW Ontario, south of Detroit, n of Lake Erie



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Friday, November 11, 2005 8:03 AMty
Subject: Re: Winterizing/vents

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant Texas
For a second roof or the echo roof place some spacers between the new wider roof and the original nestbox roof creating a 3/4" thick air gap.
Hardi-board makes some 8&1/4" wide and 12" wide siding (many other sizes) that is a cement cellulose product. These sheets come in 12 foot lengths and OFTEN get broken at the lumber stores. They very often throw away these pieces and they can be had for nothing plus you save them from going to a landfill.

A 12" wide roof will provide about 2&1/2" of overhang to the sides of the nestboxes. You can use the thinner width siding to provide a double shade side for the west wall. Very light colors when painted on a nestbox will reflect heat and keep the nestboxes cooler in areas with high heat. Use sheet rock screws to install Hardi plank.

Temperature Data Loggers installed inside nestboxes in North East Texas show that the highest summer temperatures occur in nestboxes between 5 and 6:30 PM when the sun is striking the full length of the west wall of the nestboxes. KK



From: susan bulger [mailto:suebulger"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Friday, November 11, 2005 11:34 PM
Subject: Hot and wet nestboxes

Susan Bulger, Fullerton, CA

Barbara and all,

Linda Violet's ideas for stopping the rain with caulk are excellent. It is so easy and inexpensive and easily found at Home Depot. I use the clear type. Boxes that leak should be replaced or repaired.

A second, larger roof could be added with or without spacers in between for air circulation. This would help with rain and heat. Why not place pole mounted boxes in the shade of trees in areas where heat is a problem?

From pictures I see occasionally of nestboxes around the country I am saddened by the poor, weather-beaten, thrown together construction. We need to set a good example.

Susan Bulger, Fullerton, CA



From: rob barron [mailto:rebel1956"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2006 4:59 PM
To: ezdz"at"charter.net; BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: RE: HOSP Trapping: Still waiting for someone to invent this

...
I've been playing around with the idea of some contraption that would expand as temperatures rise and raise roof vents and then contract at night and lower them, but I'm not an engineer or physicist. We bluebird nuts all think alike! Does anyone have any ideas?

Thanks,
Rob Barron-Woodstock, Georgia



From: Lynn Emerich [mailto:lemerich"at"epix.net]
Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2006 6:08 PM
Subject: Re: HOSP Trapping: Still waiting for someone to invent this

Rob, Check out the builders of sun room additions. Some of them have temperature operated openings in the window roof panels. Some air conditioning systems also use them to open and close vents. Some sort of bi-metal operation. I used to work with this stuff, but it's been too many years. Keith Kreider will probably be on here shortly with the answer.

Lynn near Bernville PA



From: MJ Shearer [mailto:eshearer"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2006 6:36 PM
To: Bluebird-L
Subject: Re: HOSP Trapping: Still waiting for someone to invent this

There are also automated foundation vents that open at 70*.
Here's a link to one:

http://www.airvent.com/homeowner/products/foundation-auto.shtml

MJ

Mary Jane Shearer; Tucker, GA



From: David Trachtenberg [mailto:dat2"at"nyu.edu]
Sent: Monday, April 03, 2006 1:03 AM
Subject: Copper Roofs

What is the advantage, if any, of a bluebird box with a copper roof?


From: bluebirdsnbirdfeeders"at"gmail.com [mailto:bluebirdsnbirdfeeders"at"gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, April 03, 2006 8:30 AM
Subject: Re: Copper Roofs

Hello David,
Most of the copper-roffed birdhouses that I have seen had copper on the roof because they weren't using exterior grade lumber. They were using some sort of cheaper wood like pine or something that wouldn't hold up to weather. I'm sure though that they have made some houses with decent exterior grade lumber and have put copper roofs on them. It depends probably want you like. Copper roofs may make the nest box last longer but I personally think it makes them ugly.


From: Dean Sheldon [mailto:seedbed"at"accnorwalk.com]
Sent: Monday, April 03, 2006 9:24 AM
Subject: COPPER ROOFS

We use the used/discarded aluminum offset printing plates for all metalwork on/around the nestbox. These are available at a very modest price from the circulation desks of most local newspapers. The metal is very thin, easy to cut and easy to work and extremely inexpensive. Most of the time, there is still a thin smearing of ink left on the plate. This can be readily removed with a rag dipped in mineral spirits. Dean Sheldon, Greenwich, OH



From: David A Trachtenberg, MD [mailto:dat2"at"nyu.edu]
Sent: Monday, April 03, 2006 3:37 PM
Subject: Re: Copper Roof Nest Box

Thanks for the answers!
Relative to this topic.
Does the copper roof affect the heat gradient in the box?
Is the roof's flashing an attractant to blue birds?
If tree swallows and bluebirds are competing for two boxes paired up,
will one favor TS and another BBs?
Best, David
Old Chatham, NY



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Tuesday, April 04, 2006 8:07 AM
Subject: Re: Copper Roof Nest Box & birds feet

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
Like Dean Sheldon we have used the aluminum sheets from off set printing shops in the past for roof covers because they are so easy to cut and install.

I have not seen any evidence or recall any research where they tested whether a bird species preferred a metal clad wood roof over a plain wood roof. Copper transfers heat well and if the copper is darker in color than the wood roof then the box could gain a little heat. Nest boxes mounted in full sun actually reach their highest inside the nestbox temperatures in mid to late afternoon when the sun is striking the western side(s) of the nestbox as compared to mid day temperatures when the sun is directly overhead.

The thickness and color of the metal flashing/roof makes a difference in heat transfer from the flashing if the box is mounted in full sun. You can get burned in a split second when you touch a thick aluminum cookie sheet heated in an oven. BUT you can touch aluminum foil in the same oven and it not even feel warm. This is because the thinner sheet does not have enough mass to heat up your finger to the burning point or because it is giving off heat to the air so fast.

On a hot day you can do a simple heat test by going into a car parking lot and place your hand on the trunks of different colored cars. Remember your hand is hundreds of times thicker and has a HUGE thermal mass compared to the delicate toes and tiny feet of birds (their feet are actually pretty tough). In the south during the heat of summer you can cook insects on dark colored bare metal sheets in a matter of seconds if they are in full sun.
In the heat of summer relatively thick dark copper sheets could get hot enough to scald the thin toes of a bird or at least be hot enough they would not want to stand on them all the time. If they are bonded to a wood roof, the wood would act as a heat sink lowering the temperature of the metal in addition to what heat it would lose to the air.

When Harry Krueger was banding bluebirds he occasionally found them with missing toes and even missing an entire foot sometimes. How often do the rest of you bird banders find birds with missing toes? Predators often only grab a foot or a leg and the birds sometimes get hung up in something and lose a foot. Harry also found nestlings with birth defects that entailed missing toes.

Severe Selenium poisoning in ducks will have some of them hatch out of the eggs with deformed or missing beaks and or deformed or missing toes or feet.



From: Torrey [mailto:torrey_canyon"at"yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, April 04, 2006 10:53 AM
Subject: Re: Copper Roof Nest Box & birds feet

We don't find a lot of weird footed birds during migration banding. Most of what we see could be called "bumble foot", an infection that causes the affected foot to be swollen & crusty. Mourning Doves are known to lose toes to frost bite, too.

However, maybe 1 out of 2000 birds (i'm just guessing
here) has got a partial foot. Most of these seem to be birth defects. I can't recall seeing weird feet on any of the ground-feeding birds, like juncos.

Torrey Wenger
Kalamazoo Nature Center
Kalamazoo, MI

From: keith freeland [mailto:missyoujoeyramone"at"yahoo.com]
Sent: Friday, September 15, 2006 4:50 AM
To: evelyn cooper
Subject: RE: Dinky wood hole guards

evelyn cooper <emcooper"at"bayou.com> wrote: We make our roofs with a 2 inch or better overhang all the way around.

I like the 2 inch overhang idea because my birds drown this year.



From: evelyn cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Friday, September 15, 2006 9:47 AM
Subject: RE: Dinky wood hole guards

Could you describe how your box is built and how your Bluebirds drown? Do you think they got so wet that maybe hypothermia set in and caused them to die?

Evelyn


From: Steve and Cindy Groene [mailto:hausgroene"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2007 3:42 PM
Subject: Nestbox overhangs

 “We just had a post about icicles hanging down and covering up the entrance hole which is common when box builders make a box that has the roof sloping to the front, directing water to drip past the entrance hole every time it rains. This is one of the reasons I make my nestboxes with flat roofs and when mounting the nestbox I make sure the box slants ever so slightly to one side directing most of the rain to one side away from the entrance holes.”

I have three nestboxes in my yard.  It’s the only three nestboxes I have.  Two have slanted roofs.  One has a flat roof.  The one w/ the flat roof is the box that could have trapped birds inside or kept them out.  It has a hole guard that is about 1.5” deep and a short roof.  

The birds could have actually escaped the two slanted roof boxes because they have large roof overhangs and could have gotten out sideways.  I had icicles hanging from all  sides of the nestboxes where there was any roof overhang.  All three nestboxes face the east.  Two nestboxes, the two that have front sloping roof overhangs, do not overhang except on the front of the box.  The flat roof had icicles on all four sides, as it has a roof overhang on all four sides.

I was able to open all three today.  Interestingly and happily, I can report not one of them leaked.  There was absolutely no evidence of any leakage of water into the nestboxes.  But, there was also no evidence of them being used by birds for roosting.

For what its worth to those out there building nestboxes, One of my nestboxes was purchased commercially.  It has a very small not quite 4x4 floor, a 1” hole guard and a large slanting roof overhang in front.  No water penetration.  The second box was made by another list member for me.  It also has a 4x4 floor, a 1” hole guard and a large slanting roof overhang.  No water penetration.  The third box, made by same list member, is a larger floored box (I think 5x5, but not certain).  It has a flat top roof, shorter overhang,  w/ a large, maybe 2” hole guard.  There is ice still sitting on the bottom side of the hole guard, extending in about 1.25”.  I opened up the box and checked it out carefully.  No water penetration inside the box.  Is this better or worse?  Don’t know but I found it interesting.  Hope someone else out there might too.

Cindy Groene

South Lyon, MI


From: William Freels [mailto:w.freels"at"worldnet.att.net]
Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2007 7:34 PM
Subject: Re: Nestbox overhangs

7  bluebirds died in an ice storm several years ago because I had the nestbox so level across the front that ICICLES  covered the entrance hole. 
 
You are correct:  Please tilt the boxes so that icicles will form to the side and not block the entrance hole.
 
Bill Freels, Paducah, Ky
From: Peter Kwa [mailto:kwapeterca"at"yahoo.ca]
Sent: Monday, January 22, 2007 12:45 PM
Subject: RE: What preventive measure to take when (was: Danger signs...)

...

My box has a copper foiI (non-overhanging) on the wooden roof as bought from WBU. I notice that some box models from Woodlink (that makes the boxes sold by Audubon) also have a copper foil on the roof. I wonder whether I should take the copper foil off or leave it on. It does seem to protect the wooden roof.


From: Peter Kwa [mailto:kwapeterca"at"yahoo.ca]
Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 7:12 PM
Subject: To Shine or Not to Shine

Crows do not really like shiny things according to this excellent Crow FAQ http://www.birds.cornell.edu/crows/crowfaq.htm The FAQ, however, does not give any comments on this point (as it extensively does on others).
 
Some boxes (like mine) have a shiny copper foil on the roof, which may or may not be attractive to birds. Other shiny things that may appear on boxes are screwheads and metal hole reducers.
 
Do you leave the shiny things as is on your boxes? or
Do you try to camouflage (paint over) shiny things on your boxes?
 Off-list responses welcome
From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Friday, February 02, 2007 8:20 AM
Subject: Re: To Shine or Not to Shine

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas Cool/cold this morning at 32*F Sleet and snow last night.
Crows have actually been known to haul off shiny tools, nuts, bolts & jewelry.
 
I know of a LOT of nestboxes where the builders have used stainless steel screws to put the boxes together. Many people have used aluminum foil to line the insides of their nestboxes to reflect radiant heat and the birds will use these boxes.
 
I have used thousands of chromed screws and hook and eye latches on the fronts of nestboxes just an inch or two away from the entrance hole.
 
In the spring time bluebirds and many species of birds will be attracted to mirrors on "shiny" cars and will spend days sitting on the window ledges fighting with their reflections.
 
Ice crystals and dew drops hanging on tree limbs or leaves reflect light and look shiny. Streams and lakes reflect the sky and look shiny.
 
Crows often eat fish and they are often silver/shiny. Trappers catch raccoons by setting a steel trap in a stream and attaching a fake fish made out of a piece of aluminum foil. This will also catch some fish eating birds.
 
We often see homeowners who hang dozens of aluminum pie plates from the branches of their pecan trees. As these pie plates are spinning and twirling in the breeze you will see the crows happily gathering pecans right above the shiny plates.
 
We normally feed crows in our driveway. Sometimes we put the food in aluminum throw away plates or pans. They feed out of these as soon as we place them outside.
 

Bluebirds nest in boxes that have shiny foil/Mylar strips hanging from the fronts of the boxes. Christmas tinsel has been used on bluebird nestboxes. KK


From: mrtony8 [mailto:philip.berry"at"mchsi.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2007 6:21 AM
Subject: Re: predator baffles

a few years back I tried the double roofed box with foam insulation between the layers. This was during Cornell's testing temperatures inside the nest box. To the best of my knowledge the difference was about 10 degrees lesser than the single roofed box. It made enough difference that I had no problems with eggs not hatching or babies dying in these boxes, even when outside temps were in the high 90's.
Phil Berry


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