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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Use of nest boxes by birds and mammals in forests in Louisiana, USA

Published source details

McComb W.C. & Noble R.E. (1981) Nest-box and natural-cavity use in three mid-south forest habitats. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 45, 93-101


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Provide artificial nesting sites for owls Bird Conservation

A controlled study 1977-9 in riverine forests in Louisiana, USA (McComb & Noble 1981), found that Eastern screech owls Megascops asio (formerly Otus asio) used nest boxes more frequently than natural cavities (0.7% of 5,374 nest boxes inspected contained nests vs. 0.03% of 3,993 natural cavities). Frequently used nests faced north and were situated under tree limbs, in trees with lianas. Barred owls Strix varia also used nest boxes, but at very low frequencies. This study also examined nest box use by other birds (wildfowl, woodpeckers and songbirds).

 

Provide artificial nesting sites for woodpeckers Bird Conservation

A controlled study 1977-9 in riverine forests in Louisiana, USA (McComb & Noble 1981), found that neither northern flickers Colaptes auratus nor red-bellied woodpeckers Melanerpes carolinus (formerly Centurus carolinus) nested with any frequency in nest boxes provided, with only a single woodpecker nest found in 5,374 inspections of 235 boxes. Both species, as well as red-headed woodpeckers M. erythrocephalus and hairy woodpeckers Picoides villosus (formerly Dendrocopus villosus) used nest boxes for roosting. Boxes were of three sizes between 30 x 15 x 15 cm with a 5.0 x 7.0 cm entrance hole and 60 x 30 x 30 cm with a 13 cm diameter entrance. All boxes had 5-10 cm of pine shavings in the bottom. This study also examined nest box use by other birds (wildfowl, owls and songbirds).

 

Provide artificial dens or nest boxes on trees Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A study in 1977–1979 in three riverine forest sites in Louisiana and Mississippi, USA (McComb & Noble 1981), found that nest boxes were used by Virginia opossums Didelphis virginiana, southern flying squirrels Glaucomys volans, fox squirrels Sciurus niger, gray squirrels Sciurus carolinensis, golden mice Ochrotomys nuttalli and eastern woodrats Neotoma floridana. Virginia opossums, southern flying squirrels and fox squirrels were more frequently detected in nest boxes than in natural cavities (opossums: 1.2% vs 0.2 of inspections; flying squirrels: 2.1% vs 0.2; fox squirrels: 0.7% vs <0.1%). Gray squirrels were detected with more similar frequencies in nest boxes (1.6 % of inspections) and natural cavities (1.1%). These comparisons were not subjected to statistical tests. Golden mice and eastern woodrats used next boxes rarely (<0.05% of box inspections). Boxes were erected in hardwood and hardwood/pine forests and were of three sizes: large (60 x 30 x 30 cm, 13 cm diameter entrance), medium (45 x 20 x 20 cm, 7.5 cm diameter entrance) and small (30 x 15 x 15 cm, 5 x 7 rectangle entrance). Fifty boxes were installed at two sites and 90 at the other. All boxes had 5–10 cm of pine shavings in the bottom. Boxes and natural cavities were inspected every month from April 1977 to February 1979.

(Summarised by Ricardo Rocha)

Provide artificial nesting sites for songbirds Bird Conservation

A controlled study 1977-9 in riverine forests in Louisiana, USA (McComb & Noble 1981), found that Carolina wrens Thryothorus ludovicianus nested more frequently in nest boxes than in natural cavities (nests found in 0.50% of 5,374 nest box inspections vs. 0.07% of 3,993 natural cavities). Two hundred and thirty five nest boxes were erected, of three sizes: large (60 x 30 x 30 cm with a 13 cm diameter entrance); medium (45 x 20 x 20 cm with a 7.5 cm diameter entrance) and small (30 x 15 x 15 cm with a 5.0 x 7.0 cm entrance). Large boxes had a 15 x 13 x 2.5 cm shelf 8 cm below the entrance. All boxes had 5-10 cm of pine shavings in the bottom. Other songbirds also used nest boxes and cavities, were too infrequent to be analysed. This study also examined nest box use by other birds (wildfowl, woodpeckers and owls).

 

Provide artificial nesting sites for wildfowl Bird Conservation

A replicated controlled study 1977-9 in riverine forests in Louisiana, USA (McComb & Noble 1981), found that wood ducks Aix sponsa used nest boxes more frequently than natural cavities (0.4% of 5,374 nest boxes inspected contained nests vs. 0.03% of 3,993 natural cavities). The most frequently used nest boxes were large (60 X 60 X 30 cm), with a circular or oval entrance of less than 140 cm2. This study also examined nest box use by other birds (owls, woodpeckers and songbirds).