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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

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December 2003

Spring: Nesting Shelf

A platform for the whole family.

Maureen Mecozzi


Robins and phoebes prefer open but protected nest sites rather than fully enclosed nest boxes. Set up this nesting shelf under the eaves of a building and the birds will have a safe spot protected by the overhang in which to raise their young.

What You'll Need

  • 1 piece 1 x 6 (about " x 5 ½") x 18"
  • 1 piece 1 x 2 (about " x 1 ½") x 10"
  • eight 1 " to2 ¼" nails

Construction Step-by-Step

  1. Cut the back and the two platform pieces from the 18" piece of 1 x 6 to the dimensions shown in the diagram.
  2. Cut the 1 x 2 to the dimension shown.
  3. Measure 2 ½" inches down from the top of the back piece. Using two nails per board, nail the outside edge of each platform piece to the back. Slope the pieces down toward the center just enough so that rain or melting snow can drip through the small gap in the platform, then nail the inside edge to the platform to hold that angle in place.
  4. Nail the 1 x 2 to the front of the sloping platform boards as shown.
From 'Shelves, Houses and Feeders for Birds and Mammals,' G. Barquest, S. Craven and R. Ellarson, North Central Regional Extension Publication No. 338

Mounting & Maintenance

Attach the shelf to the side of a building under the eaves at least 10 to 12 feet above the ground. Use 1 " screws and predrill the holes slightly smaller than the screw diameter. Allow a 6- to 7-inch clearance from the shelf to the eaves for robins and a 4- to 5-inch clearance for phoebes. Or, mount the shelf on a tree trunk or branch in a shady spot 10 to 12 feet above the ground. Clean the shelf well each fall and check that it is securely attached for the new tenants that will take up residence in early spring.

Maureen Mecozzi is a contributing editor to Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.