How to Build a Pileated Woodpecker House

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Pileated woodpeckers live throughout the northwestern and southern states of the U.S.. They are approximately 17 inches tall, with black and red stripes and crest. These birds feed on the insects that damage and can kill trees, so many homeowners and orchard managers seek to attract them. Woodpeckers make their homes in hollowed-out trees, 20 to 80 feet about the ground. They do also use nesting boxes built and set out for them, if they're appropriately placed.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand saw
  • Pine board (2 6 by 13 boards, 1 inch thick)
  • Screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Measuring tape
  • Jigsaw
  • Hinge
  • Wood chips
  • Use a hand saw to cut the floor of your box to a square of 10 inches by 10 inches. Cut two sides of 10 inches by 25 1/2 inches at the front end, sloping up to 10 inches by 27 1/2 inches in the back. Cut the front at 10 inches by 25 1/2 inches. Cut the back to 10 inches by 32 inches. Cut the top to 10 inches by 14 inches.

  • Attach the floor of your woodpecker house to the sides, using the screws. The sides should overlap the floor and extend below it by about 1/2 inch. Do not use glue, or tighten the screws all the way; the space in the seams will allow ventilation.

  • Attach the front of your box, allowing the same overlap of the floor. The top edge of the front should be even with the front top edge of the sides.

  • Attach the back of your box. The bottom edge of the back should extend below the floor by about 2 inches. The top edge should rise above the backs of the sides as well, for anchoring to a tree.

  • Use the jigsaw to cut the entrance into the front. The entrance should be a hole 4 inches in diameter, placed 21 inches above the floor of the birdhouse.

  • Screw the hinge into the top of the back of the birdhouse, and screw the other side to the top, to build a hinged top. The roof should lay over the body of your birdhouse, with open space for ventilation. It should overlap the front by about 2 inches.

  • Fill the box with wood chips for the woodpeckers to use in nesting.

Tips & Warnings

  • Woodpeckers tend to prefer entrances that face south or east. This box may also be used by kestrels and screech owls.
  • Birds need their privacy. Too much human exposure will cause them to desert their box, and possibly their young ones. Never use pressure-treated wood for live animals.

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