Cardboard nest boxes

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Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2020 1:03 pm
Location: Black Swamp NW Ohio USA
Martin Colony History: New to building a colony. Have always enjoyed the birds from neighbors colonies.

Hello and thank you for being here. I am just learning about Purple Matins and Swallows, and have discovered I do not know very much. My granddaughter and I have decided to build some houses for Martins near our home.

In reading about houses, I have learned that nest checks and end of season cleanings are very important. In many house designs I have seen wooden nest boxes inserted into the house for each apartment. Has anyone used cardboard bins for this purpose? ... 179&sr=8-2
They can be thrown away each year and fresh ones put in in the spring.
Posts: 623
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:15 pm
Location: Plano, Texas
Martin Colony History: See Signature


I've never used card board in my housing so can't answer with that experience however, knowing the composition of cardboard I can see where it would retain water if it gets wet and therefore keep the nest cavity wet. Also, the corrugated structure will allow mites and fleas even blow fly larvae a place to thrive.

Also. Per your link, the 6 inch by 4.5 inch bin you showed is not large enough to allow enough space for the Martin family. They may not even select housing that small. Most commercially built houses are 6 x 6 but landlords expand those to be 6 x 12 depending on the make and model of the housing. You'll need enough space for comfort as well as deepness to protect from hawks and owls reaching in.

In the end, using wood to build your nest boxes will allow much more safety and security to your martins and will allow easy nest changes as well as cleanup at the end of your season. Wood will also allow a degree of insulation from both hot and cold weather. I think wood boxes will be a lot easier to build on top of all that. Cost of material is minimal as well.

That's my $0.02.

Others will most likely provide better opinions.

Good luck to you. looking forward to updates on your colony development.

2016 - late to put up, many visitors
2017 - 1 pair, 3 fledged
2018- 2 pair, 12 fledged
2019 - 4 pair, 21 fledged
2020 - 15 pair, 67 fledged
Dave Duit
Posts: 1819
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit and join.

Hi Vmorg,
I would not use cardboard boxes for the reasons mentioned previously. But, they do sell PVC / plastic inexpensive nesting boxes online that meet the needs for martins.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
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