114 Man’s world
In which our super-handy Southern gentleman graciously used his considerable skills to build the perfect habitat for fine-feathered friends.
Joe Bennett builds a habitat for some fine-feathered friends
So you’re thinking of making a nesting box. Bravo. You’ll need timber, a saw, screws, an electric drill, a hammer, nails, some oaths and a sticking plaster.
For timber, I used decking from a chook house that I never built because of Bubbles, a friend’s lap dog who, despite being the size of a well-fed rat, is a mortal terror.
Three years ago he bailed up a rooster of mine called Brian. Brian was a magnificent creature, exuding all the gleaming pride of roosterdom – the carmine comb, the pluming tail, the strutting step and the world-announcing, sun-uplifting morning crow. Within a minute Bubbles had reduced him to a broken bird, a gibbering catatonic who never recovered from the shock. He died within a month. Bubbles felt not one scintilla of guilt.
Brian had been the last of my domestic fowl and, with Bubbles the traumatiser still a regular visitor, I felt that to bring another bird onto my property would be like inviting my goddaughter to New York when King Kong was at large. So the chook house project went on to that celebrated if somewhat overcrowded secondary culinary location, the back burner. And the decking timber I’d acquired stood idle in the garage. Until, that is, I read an article about nesting boxes.
The size of the nesting box you make is dictated by the species of bird you wish to attract to your garden. After careful thought, I decided to attract the species of bird that is exactly as long and tall as standard decking is wide. Thereafter it was simply a question of measuring and sawing half a dozen bits of wood, pausing for a day to recover the use of my arm, and then screwing the bits together.
When I get to redesign the human frame I’m going to give it three hands. Thus future human beings assembling nesting boxes will be able to hold two pieces of wood together while applying a drill to them with the third hand. And while I’m at it I’ll recalibrate human nature so that when the drill bit skids off its mark and two bits of wood fall to the garage floor, the amateur carpenter pays less attention to the falling wood and more to the whereabouts of the screaming drill bit in relation to his thumb. One of the disadvantages of having a thumb swathed in sticking plasters is a certain nervousness when swinging a hammer. Several nails flew into corners of the garage where only the car tyres will ever find them. But, as they say in birding circles, perseverance nails the box, and I eventually had a cube of decking with a gap in the front to allow ingress and egress. It wasn’t the sturdiest of cubes but birds weigh almost nothing. And once they’ve lined the thing with twigs, moss and mud, they’ll have nothing to fear from the protruding nails. Thereafter it was simply a matter of fixing my nesting box to the trunk of a cherry tree in sight of the house but out of reach of the demonic Bubbles, and then waiting. And now as winter grips the land, the whole business seems to me a good one, an affirmation that looks to the resurrection of spring, and a belief, if you will, that the earth will tilt once more on its axis, my thumb will heal, the birds will nest and the Brians of this world will crow again. Hope from decking. I recommend it.