Introduction: Simple Bird Nesting Box,... Tube, Err Um,.. Thing!

About: I'm a computer systems engineer living on an acre in the Adelaide hills of South Australia.

A few years ago I installed some ducting to vent the warm moist air from the cloths dryer outside of the house. This worked incredibly well for about three weeks. Then a pair of Striated Pardalotes moved into the end of the vent and set up house. They managed to raise three sets of chicks in the vent before I finally worked out how to move them on without causing a problem I couldn't sleep with.

The solution was to build a nesting box out of the same materials the vent was constructed from. The nesting box was positioned conveniently nearby to the dryer vent but also out of reach of the domestic animals and the weather. Then, in between batches of chicks, I block the vent with a grill. The Pardalotes found their new abode within 15 minutes of discovering the old one was decommissioned. As a result the Pardalotes have now raised between 2 and 4 chicks every spring for the last couple of years and I can use my dryer without fear of harming the local fawner.

This instructable covers how I built my Pardalote Nesting Box, Tube, Thing from 90mm Storm Water pipe. The results have been very satisfying. The project was very low cost and quite easy to build. On at least three occasions now, I have been able to watch a clutch of Pardalote chicks take flight and leave the nest for the very first time. An incredibly satisfying event every time.

Step 1: Parts and Tools

The parts cost around $10 to purchase. There were no special tools required beyond normal workshop tools. No chemicals, solvents or glues are required.

Parts List
  • 30cm of 90mm x 18mm hardwood
  • 2 each of 3-5mm x 20mm long bolts
  • 2 each of 3-5mm nuts
  • 4 each of 3-5mm washers
  • 30-45cm of 90mm PVC Storm Water Pipe
  • a 90° 90mm PVC Elbow
  • either
    • a 90mm push-on end cap
      • OR
    • a 90mm joiner with threaded end
    • a 90mm screw-on end cap
  • hand saw
  • hack saw
  • hand drill or pistol drill
  • 3.5 - 5.5mm drill bit
  • countersink bit
  • screw driver
  • small spanner or pliers
  • hobby knife

Step 2: Construction

This isn't supposed to be difficult and the dimensions are by no means exact. So please just have a crack at it and see how you go.

The final product is a tube, closed at one end, open at the other via a 90° bend, all mounted on a base plate. The base plate is necessary to provide stability for the nesting tube, once the birds move in or if there is winds strong enough to move the tube. There is no need to glue it all together as the press fittings of the PVC pipe provides plenty of adhesion. Furthermore, being able to reconfigure or clean the nesting tube will be simplified if it can be disassembled after a few seasons of use.

Construction Method
  1. Cut a section of 90mm pipe between 30 and 45cm long using the hacksaw.
  2. Remove burrs from the cut ends with a fingernail or a hobby knife.
  3. Cut a section of the hardwood plank so that it is approximately 50mm shorter than the pipe. This will allow enough overhang at the end so that the fittings can be attached without interfering with the base plate.
  4. Mark and drill two holes in the base plate for the mounting bolts.
  5. Countersink the holes into the base plate so that the heads of the bolts will not protrude and the base plate will sit flat.
  6. Holding the pipe section against the base plate, use the marker, pencil or drill bit, to mark the pipe where the mounting holes are to be drilled.
  7. With the pipe removed from the base plate, now drill the holes in the pipe for the mounting bolts.
  8. Once the mounting holes are drilled, fit the pipe to the base plate with the bolt, nut and washers. The washer is particularly important to spread the load on the PVC and prevent cracking or failure. The bolt ends will poke up into the tube. The birds cope but if you can adjust the length of the bolts to minimise the intrusion I am sure it will make their lives that bit easier.
  9. Finally press on the PVC elbow and end cap. Rotate the elbow in the desired direction to prevent the prevailing wind from entering the tube.

Step 3: Installation

My nesting tube sits on top of the hot water service on the veranda. This is approximately 2m above the ground and well out of the way of the cat. The elbow and blank ends are rotated and positioned such that the prevailing winds do not blow into the tube and access to the tube is easy for chicks as they are learning to fly.

The original duct work that the Pardalotes squatted in is nearby, so when the vent was blocked and the birds found they couldn't get in, there was an alternative already waiting for them only a couple of metres away. It took them less than 15 minutes to accept the change of quarters.

Having found the new abode the Pardalotes set about dragging in all the nesting materials they needed and then raised two sets of chicks. The family of Pardalotes that returns every spring is normally at least 4 adults and may be as many as 8 birds by the end of the nesting cycle.

Step 4: Footnotes

I've built quite a few nesting boxes around our property and none of them has been anywhere as successful as the PVC tube. The boxes get used regularly. However the wildlife that moves in never seems to have read the same books I have. So we have possums in the bird boxes, spiders in the bat boxes, bees in the wooden Pardalote box and Pardalotes in the cloths drier vent. (well not now but we used to).

If I am very lucky I might get some parrots in the parrot box. They certainly give it very close inspection every year.

I think the lesson is, give it a crack, don't have high expectations, you'll be pleased whatever the outcome.

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