Bluebird and Small Cavity Nester Conservation
Sialis - Bluebirds and other small cavity nesters


Mounting Styles - Pros and Cons


One important and somewhat controversial issue is how to mount a nestbox. Common options are discussed below, along with their pros and cons.

Mounting Style Designer Description Pros Cons
EMT + rebar Gilbertson 1/2" five-foot conduit slips onto 1/2" rebar or rerod (drive below frost line - e.g., 2 to 3 feet), held in place by conduit connector/ collar (bottom screw needs to be longer - e.g., 1/2 inch length and perhaps #8 and perhaps 32 threads per inc). 3/4" conduit should be used for heavier boxes. Easy to pound rebar into ground, readily adjust height or direction of box. 2 box mountings from 2 sets of 10' rebar and EMT.

Box may turn around in the wind (use duct tape) unless you want it to turn away from prevailing wind. Box easily lifted off and stolen if not connected to conduit with bolt or U-clamps. Not strong enough where livestock rub against. 1/2" conduit good only for lightweight boxes, and boxes that are below 10'

EMT T   mount them offset from the "T" post by putting two 90* bends in EMT pipe. I mount this on a "T" post with the first bend at about five feet on the "T" post and away from the fence about 16" I make another 90* bend upwards and mount the box with bolts at eye level.    
Chain link Gilbertson - as shown in BMG      
Fence       Snakes or mammalian predators can easily access box. Livestock may rub against it. 4x4 plastic pipe *over*
a smaller diameter pipe or post. Square pipe, not round.
Conduit   used conduit and awning pipe (I hear old garage door pipes are also OK) 1" OD (outer diameter) cut into 7-foot lengths with a 1/4-inch hole drilled through the pipe or conduit 1" from the top, drive them in the ground 18" deep. I put a hole clamp on the pipe just an inch below where the nestbox will reach, drop a 2-foot length of 4-inch ID (inner diameter) thin-wall PVC to which I have attached (with a small screw) a cap drilled with a 1 1/4" hole, then attach the nestbox with a 1/4" x 3 1/2" bolt with locking washer at the top of the nestbox, and a pipeclamp at the bottom.    
Hanging (rod) Rod: uses a telescoping pool pole (similar to those available at Lowe's for $20), a Purvis Nestbox with a 9 guage wire, 24" long, in a question mark shape, and purvis lifter - see plans Hanging boxes will keep them out of reach of most human predation. Hanging boxes will enable you to keep the boxes above strong sprinkler systems and errant golf balls. Hanging boxes under the canopy of trees will keep them cooler in your hot climate and will keep them more visually protected. Tree cover will also provide more split-second protection from diving hawks. within the canopy of a tree has many levels of advantages . . . cool shading for the nestbox during the summer, diffusion of wind and rain during inclement weather, protection from cats in urban areas, elimination of the need for posts in addition to maintaining around posts, greater flexibility of box placement, protection from would-be vandals, branches near the nestbox provide protection for the adult birds guarding or entering/exiting the nestbox Bluebirds may not prefer a box that swings. Harder to monitor.  

based loosely on Gary Springer's mounting method for his Chalets: in my case, I use 3/4" EMT (conduit) telescoping into 1" EMT base (thanks to Fawzi for the telescoping pole design, I don't have the URL handy right now).

I screw a setscrew connector (I find it easier to use than the compression fitting) into a hole in 5/4" thick wood (the 3/4" fitting screws really firmly into a Forschner bit-drilled 1" hole; 1" fitting goes into 1-1/4" hole). It's then easy to attach the setscrew connector to the top of the EMT.

It's a quick and easy way to mount the box on the pole. However, the drawback is that the connector wants to make its way out of the wood after a while.

I've gotten a drill press to replace my Black and Decker Drill Guide (!) and now feel that I can make very precise holes.

I've tried different adhesives to solidify the fitting into the wood, but now I want to do a strength test using different adhesives. I've got waterproof wood glue, a couple of plumber's expoxies, Seal All, ALex, etc.

Any recommendations for an adhesive that I haven't mentioned which might firmly hold the fitting in the wood indefinitely, so I can include *that* in my test as well?

OR-- does anyone know of another way to attach EMT to the bottom of a box, such as a plumbing fitting that I haven't seen yet, etc.?

Metal Post        
Metal T-Post   Drill two small holes in the back of box near the top and two near the bottom, then use coathanger wire, (better still, use copper or galvanized) and twist tightly with pliers. post-driver a couple of strong whacks will force 6' metal fence post in ground. Before attaching box in field consider sliding a 3.5' piece of PVC pipe OVER metal post, then attach 2 sets of wires to hooks on post above PVC pipe.

Assumption: the pipe is threaded on both ends.

2) Go to Home Depot etc. and buy a metal flange. You screw one end of the flange onto the pipe, attach the other end, which is like a flat metal plate with 4 holes, to the bottom of the box with screws. Of course make sure that the threading of the flange fits the threading on the pipe.

3) You could also use a flange for the bottom of the pipe, attaching the metal plate to a board for stability when you dig a hole and stick it in.

save money by cutting a piece of 2x4 or 2x6, as long as the box is wide, bore a pipe sized hole almost all the way through and fasten it to the bottom of the house.

cheaper than conduit  
2" PVC       Predators crawl up?
Telescoping pole Ask Keith

cost of three quarter inch galvanized steel pipe is about triple that of the three quarter inch EMT electrical conduit pipe, I use the former because I believe these sway a little less. That is also part of the reason I use the full 10 foot length instead of cutting the pole in half before pounding it into the ground. The galvanized steel pipe should also last many more years than the EMT.

"Emad" telescoping poles, but I don't like them -- they're more time-consuming to mount, more time-consuming to monitor, and I think aren't as predator-proof as a low-mounted box with a stovepipe guard (although they might work better against cats, coupled with a stovepipe guard), plus there's the danger that a volunteer will put it back up facing 180 degrees from its intended orientation, which has happened

Avoids accidents on ladders etc. telescoping mounts are inevitably more time-consuming to monitor. Need 1" EMT

This pipe comes in 21 foot lengths. I normally drill a hole one foot down from the top of the pipe that goes in the ground and place a 5/16" bolt in the hole to set the top or telescoping pipe down on. Raise up the top pipe just a little and pull out the bolt and let the top pipe slide down inside the bottom pipe. You should paint a line where the top pipe is normally at rest in the bottom pipe so that you don't pull it all the way out while raising it back up!!!!

If you want a lighter pole the 3/4" normally slips inside the 1". By packing rocks around the pipe set in the ground and also by setting this pipe on TOP of a rock or brick it will keep them from sinking with a heavy box. You can set the bottom pole in a gallon milk jug or can filled with fresh cement then carry the pipe, and cement block to the site AFTER the cement hardens. Brace the pole plumb while the cement is setting. By planting this block of cement in the ground it is nearly impossible for the average person to "steal" this set up!

Tree     Some birds may prefer (titmice, nuthatch?). Allow access to climbing predators including snakes. Bluebirds may avoid.
Utility pole       Must obtain permission from utility!
Wooden Posts       rots in ground.

NOTE: Boxes made of heavy TREX lumber may require had to replace the conduit rebar poles we had used for the Yellow Pine 1" thick lumber and put steel water pipe poles anchored in cement to hold them up.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 12.1MP Digital Camera with 18x POWER Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.7 inch LCD

The story of the bluebird's trials is a poignant one, beautiful enough to make you weep.
- Andre Dion, The Return of the Bluebird, 1981

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