A bird's eye view
I like building nestboxes, but the most rewarding part of my job is working with home and landowners. I try to find the best match between my clients, their interests, the bird habitat specific to their yard or acreage - and run with those possibilities. I've had the chance to visit many properties and install Nice Nests across the Northwest. This spring has been a lot of fun because so many 2014 customers have returned with stories of success. They have tales of Saw Whet and Screech Owls using Nice Nests from Seattle to Spokane and anecdotes about Bluebirds, Kestrels and more. Here are a couple emails I've received in the last week:
Just wanted to let you know that the Kestrel House we got from you worked and they came back after the fire. Yesterday before we left there were two young birds sitting in the pine close to the house being fed by their parents. I wish I could have stayed for a few days to see them take flight.
Peter and Marsha Trost
(Bonner Lake, 7/8/15)
We came to you in 2014 with a flicker problem. Flickers had pecked holes in our shed and had moved on to gouging out the siding of our house.
We asked you if you had any birdhouses that would keep flickers away from our siding...You actually came to our house in Twisp and spent quite a while looking at it and figuring out the best places to site bird houses for flickers. You had done your research and found the type of houses they liked and that they preferred them stuffed to the brim with some kind of pine shavings so they could burrow out their nest.
Then you came out and installed the bird houses and stuffed them with shavings for us. You were so thoughtful, kind, thorough and knowledgeable about birds! We didn't know if it would work or not, but our entire interaction with you up to this point had been so interesting and so much fun that we felt we had gotten our moneys worth already! The design of both houses are what we call functional/eccentric. They are beautiful to look at, but definitely have the birds needs in mind. And they work!
When spring arrived....we were quite excited, because just as you said, the flickers had been excavating their new homes with cedar shavings all over the ground underneath them. We saw them flying around the house, but didn't see them in the houses.
BUT a few weeks later I noticed what looked like nesting material sticking out of the hole of one of them! And shortly after that, we began seeing flickers flying into BOTH of the boxes! The video attached is proof, with the singing of the babies in their house!
SO, all of your research and hard work resulted in the flickers nesting in the new birdhouses! Super sweet! Oh, and i almost forgot the reason we began the project...to stop the flickers from attacking our siding...well, so far, there is absolutely no evidence of any new pecking! Siding is safe. Thanks to you.
We are so very happy with the birdhouses and are looking forward to getting a new house for the swallows we have and the bluebirds...What a great product. We hope you can get these out into the world so that others can appreciate them as we do!
Thanks again Patrick and see you soon.
Trisha and Kathleen
(Twisp, WA, 7/14/15)
My blog has been woefully neglected. I've been a busy boy, but that is no excuse. The last post was in November, and here it is spring going on summer. I resolve to make this a weekly thing, no matter what. Today I'm sharing a column about Nice Nests written by Sally Gracie.
She has been covering happenings in Twisp, WA (pop. 980+/-) for the Methow Valley News since approximately 1890. (Just kidding Sally!) She's a sweet curmudgeon with a taste for vodka martinis and an appreciation of birds. I've worked with her at the paper and am honored to call her my friend. She asked me to install a nestbox for Tree Swallows at her place and wrote the following the next week:
"Build it, hang it, and they will come. And aren’t they the handsome couple!
Patrick Hannigan hung my Nice Nest for swallows on the side of the outbuilding last week. By early Sunday morning (April 19), several pairs of tree swallows — deep blue iridescent backs and white fronts — swooped and swallowed over the yard, coming close to the birdhouse to case it out. They inspected the front door and scanned for threatening neighbors. Finding the house acceptable, one pair of tree swallows had taken possession of their new home by late afternoon. Patrick knew just which space would be most comfortable for the birds and be close enough to allow me a great view of the action.
I’m bewitched. I sat on a milk crate in the grass. Holding camera and iPhone, for an hour I waited to grab a photo of my winged tenants at their front door. Once I had my picture — it took the birds a while to ignore me — I returned to my porch table. My eyes drifted away from my book. My swallows are much more entertaining. I can read at night while the swallows rest."
(Published in the Methow Valley News, April 22, 2015)
Since I started building birdhouses, I see the world with new eyes. Where others see crap, I perceive scrap-tacular possibilities.
Nice Nests are crafted from throw-away wood.
The bigger the burn pile, the better the potential.
Funky found hardware is part of every Nice Nest. Can you identify at least five different specific everyday items in this picture?
In the Methow Valley, wood doesn't rot. It petrifies. Some of the salvaged wood I use to build Nice Nests is 40 to 60 years old. And solid as rock.
Nice Nests are built to last.
This nestbox is made out of an apple box from 1986. The 1.5" opening is perfect for Western Bluebirds.
Got Scraps? Call or text me at 509-699-0349. I turn junk into functional breeding habitats for a variety of cavity-nesting species.
This is my first blog post and with it I would like to soar and see the big picture. If only I could fly. Guess I'll have to settle for the view from my perch 1845 feet above sea level in the Methow Valley.
First, I'd like to thank my friends Mary Kiesau and Baylie Peplow for helping me hatch nicenests.com.
Mary is generous in allowing me to use her amazing images of cavity-nesting birds for my website. In addition to being a talented photographer, she is a dedicated naturalist, an enthusiastic teacher, and she does great work on behalf of the Methow Conservancy. Please take a look at the Methow Valley through Mary's eyes at mountainkindphotography.com.
When I wanted help creating a logo for Nice Nests, Baylie was my first and only choice. She has an uncanny ability to transform abstract concepts into concrete, creative, beautifully-rendered realities. Check out her work at redumbrelladesign.com.
Second, I want to honor all those folks in the Methow Valley and beyond who have invited me to rummage through their dump piles, dropped off scrap wood, gifted me random rusty hardware, or otherwise offered raw materials that could be turned into Nice Nests. Thank you! Got scraps? Get in touch.
I also want to thank Kent Woodruff and Dana Visalli - these two know and share so much. Kent is the go-to-guy in the Methow Valley for everything avian, and Dana has spent decades creating an incredibly rich and detailed chronicle of flora and fauna in the Methow Valley (including birds!) at methownaturalist.com.
Nice Nests is a new entrepreneurial effort, but it blends two of my long-standing interests: birds and building stuff. I'm no ornithologist or architect, just a passionate amateur. Thanks for stopping by and checking things out.