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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 10-03-2017, 07:37 PM
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Woodpecker attack on bird nestbox

I was cleaning out the birdboxes at a local wildlife wood today when I found this one.



A Woodpecker attack I suppose. We occasionally get a few pecks around the entrance hole but nothing like this.

We have looked at entrance guards but the cheapest I could find was over £3 and that works out a bit expensive when there are 40 boxes. If the problem happens again I suppose I might have to think about producing some cheaper type of protection.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 11-03-2017, 10:50 AM
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Re: Woodpecker attack on bird nestbox

How are your handycraft skills?

You make them from 2mm high density polyethylene, like this:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/HDPE-Sheet...3D400721728191

It's easy to cut and you could nail (say) 5 of them at a time to a piece of wood and cut the hole with a hole saw:

HSS Hole Circle Round Saw Cutter Metal Steel Aluminum Plastic Wood 16 to 95mm | eBay

Jim
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Old 11-03-2017, 07:42 PM
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Re: Woodpecker attack on bird nestbox

No problem for me to do the work, Jim. Just a case of what to use and what extra equipment I need.

Is thin plastic sheeting going to be sufficiently durable if 1 inch thick wood gets ripped apart? Is anybody else currently using this material for this purpose?

The plates which I have seen elsewhere are made from copper or galvanised steel plate. But I'm retired now and so are most of the people from whom I obtained this sort of material in the past.

I was intending to have a word with the local Devon Birds group.

Getting cut price tools from e bay seems risky to me. I have seen and attempted to use too much stuff in the past which was guaranteed for 5 minutes or two uses and it very quickly failed.

Screwfix are offering genuine HSS Bosch cutters for £16 including the centre drill piece but I had intended to have a look at local builders merchants first. I do have a variety of wood cutting hole saws.

There is also an additional issue with the boxes which I had been intending to consider this Spring. Boxes have been replaced or moved around over many years so the original numbering system, marked on the box side with felt tip pen, has become hopelessly confused.

For example, they begin with Box Z followed by X then number 22, 17, two which are both marked 26 and so on.

My idea was to produce some replaceable numbering system so everything could be kept in order. I had been looking for some form of simple and cheap screw on plastic numbers but so far I haven't found what I want. Probably I will cut out some pieces of tin plate or plastic then paint on numbers, or use sticky vinyl numbers.

When attached by a couple of screws the numbering system can be kept in order by moving the numbers to different boxes as required. We might even number each attachment tree instead of the box?

Maybe that polythene sheeting would be just what I am searching for and easily be as durable as the actual boxes.

We do have a few of the Woodcrete boxes but they are expensive, although they last a long time and appear to be just as acceptable to the birds. Those which we have now were originally purchased 20 years ago.

Incidentally, as an experiment, I have purchased a couple of those extra cheap boxes which are found in many garden centres and other outlets for around £4 each.

Personally, I'm doubtful that such a small box with a base which is just 90 x 90 mm will be any good. However, I will mix them in with the standard design boxes and see what happens. Maybe Dormice will use them?

Today, I have been constructing a reduced size experimental design of my own thinking. A base size of 100 x 120 mm and an entrance hole in the side not the front. I was wondering if that might attract Treecreepers as well as the usual Tits.

An experimental Treecreeper box of a different design was erected many years ago and was immediately used; but failed every year since then!

Last edited by Geoff F; 11-03-2017 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 12-03-2017, 07:11 AM
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Re: Woodpecker attack on bird nestbox

There was an interesting article on the "Wildlife Gardener" site, which opened with a photo of a raided box where the Woodpecker had broken in from the side of the box (which they will do).

Quote:
Preventing the Damage
Prevention really hinges on working out why your woodpecker is attacking the boxes.
Research at Lancashire University has shown that wrapping nest boxes in wire mesh can help dampen the Great Spotted Woodpecker’s enthusiasm for nest-raiding – but this early in the year, it’s unlikely that there’ll be any edible youngsters on offer.

If your woodpeckers are looking for a good place to nest themselves, they’re possibly trying your boxes out to see if they’ll suit. Add a lump of soft wood – ideally old, well rotted and full of juicy bugs – and they’ll have a great time excavating away and hopefully stop doing too much more damage to the structure.

On the other hand, if it’s simply a 'lonely-hearts' male trying the woodpecker equivalent of on-line dating, then I’m afraid you’ll probably have to put up with the damage and the drumming until he gets lucky!

Good luck with your woodpeckers; hope you have less noisy and destructive tenants in your other boxes – and lots of nesting activity to enjoy.
Good luck with your problem Geoff. Hope you let us know how it goes.
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Old 12-03-2017, 08:34 PM
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Re: Woodpecker attack on bird nestbox

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
Is thin plastic sheeting going to be sufficiently durable if 1 inch thick wood gets ripped apart? Is anybody else currently using this material for this purpose?
I recon it will be fine - the bird's beak is evolved to tackle wood, not plastic. The plastic is tough and even if the bird's beak does penetrate, it won't split or tear. Besides, the plastic is slippery and the beak may just skid off. You could use 3mm (or thicker) HDPE if you have any doubts.

Quote:
The plates which I have seen elsewhere are made from copper or galvanised steel plate. But I'm retired now and so are most of the people from whom I obtained this sort of material in the past.
I'm in the same situation - I could get all sorts of scrap fragments of exotic aerospace alloys when I was working.

Quote:
Getting cut price tools from e bay seems risky to me. I have seen and attempted to use too much stuff in the past which was guaranteed for 5 minutes or two uses and it very quickly failed.
I've never had any problems with tools from ebay. The hole saws you already have would be fine for HDPE.

Quote:
There is also an additional issue with the boxes which I had been intending to consider this Spring. Boxes have been replaced or moved around over many years so the original numbering system, marked on the box side with felt tip pen, has become hopelessly confused.
You could burn/melt numbers into HDPE hole guards.

Jim
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Old 13-03-2017, 12:19 AM
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Re: Woodpecker attack on bird nestbox

Our allotment site wanted to have a day where we made bird boxes with local children. A builders merchant gave us a lot of free materials and were only too happy to do so. I suggest you might like to do the same.

Previously I have used jam jar metal lids and drilled through them for the hole guard after flattening the lip.

We stapled wire mesh around the box as we have woodpeckers active around our site.

Local bee keepers cover their hives over winter in large plastic bags and the woodpeckers can't grip to make their holes. I don't know if something like that would be ideal for bird boxes in summer. It might be.
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Old 13-03-2017, 07:06 PM
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Re: Woodpecker attack on bird nestbox



I had the same problem with 2 of my boxes.
I found some big washers with 27mm holes, drilled 2 small holes and fitted them, the blue tits have used them.
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Old 13-03-2017, 07:07 PM
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Re: Woodpecker attack on bird nestbox

Thanks for the comments.

Most of the current boxes were produced in 2013 as a joint effort from some of the volunteer maintenance workers; but variation in carpentry skills has meant that some boxes are beginning to give problems.

And that is without any wildlife vandalism.



A few boxes are significantly older but look as though they should last another year.

Maybe next winter I will spend a few hours in my workshed making replacements. That will give quicker and better quality results than cobbling together bits of wood at the site by people who maybe keen but lack basic skills.

I will see if DWT will pay for the materials.

Some 3 mm HDPE sheeting is on order which I will use to make tags for a replaceable numbering system. There will be some material spare to try a few hole guards.

Today I have made a patch to cover the woodpecker damage and produced a hole cover from tin plate which I obtained at a local builders merchant.

There is time to experiment with different materials before new boxes have to be created.

This very wet wood has a lot of rotting stumps and piles of old logs where woodpeckers and other creatures can search for food or homes. I suspect this damage was done during mid summer to autumn. The box was fine when we checked them in mid May.

I occasionally hear a woodpecker in the area particularly during the Spring but they don't seem to be common here.
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Old 13-03-2017, 07:33 PM
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Re: Woodpecker attack on bird nestbox



how about trying plastic pipe,
I make one as a test last year and had a good result.
I split a 4inch pipe and used wood top, back and bottom.
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Old 13-03-2017, 08:14 PM
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Re: Woodpecker attack on bird nestbox

Certainly something to think about.

I suspect it might get too hot in sunshine but amongst the woodland trees is a different matter.

There should be a piece of left over pipe in the shed . . .
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