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Are you looking for a fun, nature-friendly activity? Then, consider a woodworking project for wildlife! Nesting birds (and bats, too!) can always use more options for safe shelter. Plus, nesting boxes attract more birds to your backyard.
Also, building a birdhouse is a fun project for kids and adults alike! And if you want to try out a new woodworking hobby, it’s a perfect starter project.
Woodworking for wildlife: Project Ideas and Plans
You want your project to look good! But you also want it to serve its purpose for the wildlife. So, first, decide what type of wildlife you want to attract (and help!). Different species have different nesting needs, and you want to build nesting boxes accordingly.
Don’t know where to begin? Below are several ideas and resources to get started on your woodworking projects.
Build a birdhouse
Before starting your birdhouse, decide what bird species you want to attract. NestWatch has an excellent tool for determining the best species to build for in your region.
Here in Iowa, we can build birdhouses for many different species. Some include American Kestrels, Robins, Chickadees, Wrens, Eastern Bluebirds, and more.
Once you determine what type of bird to house, find a plan with a materials list and directions. According to NestWatch, it’s best to use untreated wood and galvanized screws. (And keep in mind, birdhouses might need protection from predators too.)
Here are a few good sites to start you off in your search for birdhouse plans:
- Iowa State Extension
- The Birders Report
- Empress of Dirt
- Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
- Wood Projects For Illinois Wildlife
- Wildlife Mississippi
Build an owl box
Owls are probably in your neighborhood, whether you see them or not. So why not help them out with a homemade owl nesting box? It’s pretty exciting to host an owl family in your backyard. Plus, they are great hunters of rodents and large insects, so they help control pests.
Different species of owls need different types of nesting boxes. The good news is, most owl boxes are easy to build and great projects for kids.
In Iowa, you can build boxes for, and attract Screech Owls, Barn Owls, Barred Owls, and Saw-whet Owls. The nesting boxes should get attached to tall trees, poles, and buildings.
For more on owl boxes, check out some links below:
- Screech Owl Nesting Box | Audubon
- Barred Owl Nesting Box | Owl Pages
- Barn Owl Nesting Box | The Barn Owl Trust
- Northern Saw-whet Owl | Nestwatch
Build a Wood Duck box
If you have property near a body of water, you can help provide habitat for cavity-nesting ducks too. Nesting boxes help protect ducks and improve local populations.
In Iowa, a duck box can attract Wood Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, and Hooded Mergansers. And other cavity nesters sometimes take advantage of duck boxes.
Here are a couple of plans for duck nesting boxes:
Build a bat house
Building bat boxes can help stabilize bat populations, which helps the environment and the bats. For instance, they provide pest control and help with pollination and seed distribution. Did you know that bats can eat 1000 mosquitos an hour?! That’s some robust pest control.
And that’s not to mention how fun it is to watch them perform their aerial feats while catching their evening meal.
Here are a couple of bat house plans for you to consider*:
- Four-chamber Nursery Bat House | Bat Conservation International
- Single-chamber Bat House | Yellow Brick Home
*Make sure to hang bat houses 12 feet or more off the ground on a post or building; south-facing (or where it gets plenty of sunlight) works best.
Build a birdfeeder
Birds appreciate supplemental food in backyard feeders, especially during the winter. It’s a good feeling to complete a project you see the wildlife using each day. And simple birdfeeders are easy to build, even if you’ve never done it before.
Here are a couple of simple birdfeeder plans to consider:
Which wildlife woodworking project is best for you?
You want your final product to look good, but you want it to be functional, too. So before you decide on your project, figure out which species to build for.
Once you determine the species’ habitat and nesting needs, look for projects that fit. For instance, cavity nesters will use what we typically consider a birdhouse. But you can also provide structures and platforms for species that roost.
Also, you can buy birdhouse kits at home improvement stores, like The Home Depot. Just make sure your kit will hold up to the outdoor elements and work for wildlife.
Benefits of woodworking for wildlife
Bird and bat houses provide shelter and nesting spots that benefit the wildlife. But having backyard nesting boxes help you too; here are a few benefits:
- Pest control. Birds and bats eat insects and can naturally help control pesky bugs in your yard. Also, if you have nesting owls nearby, they help control rodents.
- Pollination. Like bees, birds and bats help pollinate flowers and plants.
- Conservation. Providing habitat for birds and bats helps limit pesticide use and encourages native plant growth.
- Enjoyment. Attracting wildlife to your backyard is enjoyable! It’s fun to watch the birds (and bats!) and learn more about them in the process.
photo credit: pixabay