AMES, Iowa – A backyard project doesn’t have to be all-encompassing and grand to have a large impact on wildlife.
That is the message Adam Janke, assistant professor and extension wildlife specialist at Iowa State, works to convey in his series of four publications titled “Woodworking for Wildlife.”
“The image that Woodworking for Wildlife conjures for most is probably one of a bird house with four sides, a sloping roof and small hole on the front,” Janke said. “This is certainly the basic entry point for Woodworking for Wildlife, and it is something to satisfy many of our wild neighbors. However, there are many different shapes, sizes and designs for bird houses, and specific tweaks to a design can help attract a specific type of wildlife.”
Janke’s Woodworking for Wildlife publications provide detailed instructions and a materials list for creating a backyard bat box, blue bird box and wood duck box. Each publication provides background information on the animal the boxes are designed for, helping homeowners know the preferred setting of each animal they are trying to attract. In addition, one of the publications includes instructions and a materials list to build the iconic Aldo Leopold bench.
Additional information on each design, and the wildlife they are designed to attract, is also available through the March issue of the ISU Extension and Outreach Small Farm Sustainability newsletter.
“The projects featured are just a small sampling of many ideas that nature enthusiasts have created to attract wildlife,” Janke said.
Janke’s article in the Small Farm Sustainability newsletter details two types of structures that are popular with different types of birds. The first is designed for cavity nesters, birds like chickadees, wrens and nuthatches. Secondary cavity nesters look for holes in many different places to build their nests, including places abandoned by woodpeckers or holes created by natural decay from broken branches in trees.
A second type of project discussed is for birds who like to roost. Designs are available for structures for anything from a turtle to an osprey, with the projects most applicable to Iowa home or acreage owners being platforms for robins or shelters for animals and bees.
Finally, the article provides several useful tips for creating lasting projects that wildlife can enjoy for years to come. These tips include using rot resistant wood, employing galvanized outdoor screws and monitoring and cleaning the habitat on a regular basis.
“This article and the related publications are just a small sampling of ways to attract wildlife to your yard,” Janke said. “Hopefully they will inspire people to get started building, because spring is just around the corner.”