April 12, 2024

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Archives for January 2014

How to Make a PVC Pipe Birdhouse

Being in construction I’ve always had extra pieces of PVC pipe left over from jobs. Most times I just threw them away rather than have a stockpile of pieces that were most often too short to use cluttering up my garage.  A couple weeks back I had a idea to turn a piece into a birdhouse.  It really wouldn’t take much, a short piece of 3 or 4 inch PVC and a cap for each end. Of course as usual I got carried away and instead of a cap at one  I decided to put a clean out to make it easier to clean each Fall.   I did a quick Google search to see if there were any plans floating around and was surprised to find only one which was from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Here’s a link to their page with the original plans created by Dan Mennill.

.http://web2.uwindsor.ca/courses/biology/dmennill/nestbox.html

pvc1I changed the plans just a little to make the length of pipe work out better if you were to make several birdhouses out of a standard 10 foot piece. As I mentioned before I also used a cleanout for the bottom and just a regular cap for the roof.

As you can see by the image I made one from 3 inch PVC and one from a piece of 4 inch. The 3 inch pipe has a 1 1/4 inch hole for chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, wrens or Downy Woodpeckers. The 4 inch pipe has a 2 inch opening for lager birds such as a Red Headed Woodpecker.  Since PVC is so smooth the most important thing to do is to roughen up the inside of the pipe on the entrance side. I used a dremel with a small grinder bit and made horizontal grooves from the bottom of the pipe to just above the hole. The fledglings will need a toe hold to get to the entrance to leave the nest. Without this roughed up surface the chicks surely would be trapped inside the nest so make sure you roughen it up pretty well before you put the caps on each end.  Your also going to want to roughen up the exterior of the pipe around the hole so the birds coming to the house can also have a toehold. A piece of 80 grit sand paper will also do the trick. Here’s what you’ll need;

  • one 11 3/4 inch length of 3 or 4 inch PVC
  • one PVC cap
  • one PVC cleanout assembly (threaded hub and threaded coupling)
  • PVC cement

Drill either a 1 1/4 (for 3 inch PVC) or 2 inch hole (for 4 inch PVC) down approximately 1 1/2 pipehouse22inches from the bottom edge of your cap. Make sure you roughened up the inside before gluing on the caps.  Apply a liberal amount of glue your PVC cap and cleanout assembly and attach then to your pipe.  On the back side of the pipe I cut in two keyhole slots, one near the top and one near the bottom. The keyhole slots will allow the birdhouse to slide over two nails that you put into the tree.  The extra nail at the bottom will stabilize the house from any unnecessary movements.

 

I went a little further and took my dremel tool and carved lines into the pipe to give the impression of birch bark.  I cut the top off a black ink pen, squeezed out some ink on a paper plate and used a toothpick to rub ink into each horizontal line.  You can go a little further even and get birchhousesome birch bark off a dead downed tree and use contact cement to adhere it to the PVC to really simulate a birch branch or trunk. I may do a few up myself that way and post them here.

The house I built on this page is made from Schedule 40 PVC which can get a little expensive. There’s really no need to use such a heavy duty pipe, I only did because I already had the pipe. If you want to make a few of these up you should purchase the more economical thin walled PVC which you’ll find at any building supply store. They’ll also have all the fittings you will need as well. If you purchased a 10 foot piece of 3 inch thin walled PVC you should be able to build your first house for approximately $17.00 excluding tax and glue.  Each additional house after that will only cost you around $8.00 bucks because all you have to buy for each house are the end caps.

You don’t have to disguise them as birch bark either, you can paint them any color but remember the darker the color the hotter it will be inside the birdhouse. Since this type design is pretty much water tight there isn’t a need for drain holes at the bottom but you can still drill a few into the bottom of the clean out and a few holes just under the edge of the top coupling for air circulation. Unlike wood These PVC pipe birdhouses will  last a lifetime and beyond.

Happy Birding !!

A nice mention from the National Wildlife Federation.

14 Apps That Will Revolutionize Your Walk in the Woods

from Wildlife Promise

iPhone in NatureMany argue that smartphones are keeping kids out of the woods and locked up behind their screens. However, these devices and the new mobile apps they put at our fingertips assist us in a lot of different ways, even when you’re out of the house and in the wilderness. You can read some thoughts around NWF’s findings in the report Friending Fresh Air: Balancing Nature and Technology.

While exploring nature is often regarded as a tech-free activity, it’s great to know that in the 21st century there are tech-savvy tools that help can us enjoy nature and wildlife in a whole new way.

Here are 14 apps that will turn even the most urban person into a naturalist in no time.

 

trailhead1. The North Face Trailhead App

The outdoor apparel retailer The North Face has launched an exploratory trail-finding app for iPhone. Its function is to help users find and share the best paths and routes for hikers, skiers, fly fishermen, and others who don’t want to get lost when they head for the hills. The free app enables users to search by activity type and distance, proximity (either from your current location using GPS or by zip code), and user ratings. The database of routes is pulled from EveryTrail.com, a platform for swapping trails with fellow enthusiasts.

 

2. Florafolio

The ultimate native plant resource for nature enthusiasts is now available as an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Florafolio is an interactive guide that allows users to focus on the stunning variety of trees, shrubs, perennials, ferns, vines, and grasses indigenous to Eastern Canada and the Northeastern region of the US. It’s an excellent directory for anyone who’s looking to identify native plant species in the wild.

 

Ibirdplus3. iBird Plus Guide to Birds

Designed for both iPhone and iPad, iBird Plus is one of the more pricier apps, at $14.99. However its database has a total of 938 species so it’s far more extensive than some of the other bird apps available today.

 

wildlab4. WildLab Bird

Not as extensive as the iBird Plus, WildLab Bird is a free app that can identify 200 species of birds. It engages learners with the basics of bird identification. Along with associated curricula and educational activities found on the WildLab.org Web site, WildLab Bird is a powerful way to see the environment in a whole new way.

 

LeafSnap5. Leafsnap

Leafsnap, free on iOS, is a comprehensive nature-guide app that features an extensive directory of North American plants. You can rifle through the directory manually, and filter the species by leaf shapes, flowers, fruit, and so on. Tapping an entry takes you to a photo-rich data page that displays examples of the plant’s bark and seeds. There is also a text description of habitats and bloom times.

 

MyNatureAnimalTracks6. MyNature Animal Tracks

Priced on upwards of $8 USD, according to naturalist D. Thomas this is “a must-have app for anyone outdoors.” MyNature Animal Tracks allows users to identify any animal track in your area when you reference this well-made guide. It is chock-full of great information and photos that are not just illustrations, but actual photographs of a wide variety of animal tracks.

 

inature7. iNaturalist

Explore! Learn! Record on Androids! iNaturalist allows you to record your observations from the natural world for free and contribute them to iNaturalist.org, a social network for naturalists. Users can get started quickly by reviewing the app’s guide. A recent update was added in June 2013.

 

projectnoah8. Project Noah

Free for iPhones and Androids, Project Noah is the best way to share your wildlife encounters and help document our planet’s biodiversity. Naturalists can upload their own wildlife photos or review those uploaded by others from across the globe.

 

trails9. Trails-GPS Tracker

Trails-GPS Tracker is the first GPS app that allows you to record, export, and import tracks directly on your iPhone! Prepare and review your outdoor adventures on the iPad as well, since there’s an easy exchange between iPhone and iPad. Priced at $3.99, Trails was first released five years ago, so it’s had several upgrades.

 

treebook10. TreeBook

TreeBook is the authoritative guide to 100 of the most common trees in North America. It was produced by veteran forester Steve Nix (of forestry.about.com fame), and developed by Ash Mishra (developer of the very popular CBC Hockey and CBC Radio apps). This free application’s easy, intuitive interface provides a way to determine the type of tree you’re looking at — with images, search, synonyms for trees, layman terms, and, for the more scientifically minded, detailed terminology.

 

wheresabear11. Where’s a Bear

Available for 99 cents, Google’s Android smartphone and their developers Blackbonnet have just launched an app called Where’s a Bear. It’s a great service for tourists who want to track wildlife sighting alerts for not only those big old scary grizzly bears, but any other species of your choice. Its intent is to allow users to maximize their Yellowstone vacation time by taking the guesswork out of finding the best places to see the park’s primary residents.

 

Yellowstone National Park The Official Guide on the App Store on iTunes12. Yellowstone Wildlife

The Yellowstone Wildlife app which doesn’t include the “finding the bear” feature (noted above) is now also available on iPhones and iPads as well as Androids. You can obtain real-time updates of Yellowstone wildlife sightings for free.

 

natgeobirdsicon13. National Geographic Birds

Now available for $9.99, National Geographic Birds was designed for iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch. It offers an innovative, beautiful, and interactive field guide to the birds of North America. Whether you’re new to bird watching or already an expert, this completely updated and redesigned app makes spotting, identifying, and understanding birds easier than ever.

 

Wildobs14. WildObs Observer

Check out more than 1,000 species of mammals, birds, snakes, bugs, worms, WildObs Observer. Designed by Neukadye, this free iPhone app lets you record wildlife and contribute them both to your database, and to National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Watch program. It’s a neat experience to learn what naturalists around you are seeing and uploading.

If you’ve never taken that walk in the woods prior to reading this blog, perhaps these innovative apps will motivate you to do so now. Whether you have a passion for flowers, trees, plants, mammals, birds reptiles, rocks, or anything in between, technology can be your friend when you take that next fork in the road.


Drew Hendricks

About the Author

This is a guest post by Drew Hendricks, an environmental and tech addict that has written for a variety of publications including Technorati, Forbes and Huffington Post.

 

 

Feline or Canine? How to Identify their Tracks

Canine and Feline tracks are probably the most confusing tracks you’ll find yet with just a little knowledge you can be an expert at identifying each.  Carefully studying the image below you should be able to pick out a few of the different features each animal track displays.

tracks canine feline

Looking at the feline track above you should notice the following;

  • There are no claws showing. Cats tracks seldom show claws since their claws are felineretractable. This is true for all cats including Mtn. Lions, Bobcat, Lynx and domestic cats
  • The heel pad of felines will show three lobes on the back edge and usually two lobes on the front edge. If you look closely it resembles an “M”.
  • The overall shape of the track is appears round or as wide as it is long.

 

Looking at the canine track you should notice;

  • Four distinct claw marks at the end of each toe.canine
  • The front of the heel pad has only one single lobe and the back edge of the heel pad has only two lobes.
  • The overall appearance of the track is rectangular.

 

 

If there are claw marks present then it’s a safe bet it’s a canine. However, there is one exception to that rule, Gray Fox. Gray Fox have semi- retractable claws so you’ll want to also check the number of lobes on the heel pad to be sure. The majority of the time though their claw marks will be present in their track.  The following measurements might help if you want to distinguish what species of canine or feline your trying to identify.

Felines

  • Domestic Cat –  1 to 1 1/2 inches long or wide
  • Bobcat –  2 inches long or wide
  • Lynx – 3 1/2 to 4 inches long or wide
  • Mtn. Lion – 3 to 4 1/2 inches long or wide

Canines

  • Gray Fox –  1 1/2 inches wide by 2 inches long
  • Red Fox –  1 3/4 inches wide by 2 1/4 inches long
  • Gray Wolf – 3 3/4 inches wide by up to 5 inches long
  • Coyote –  2 inches wide by 2 1/2 inches long
  • Domestic Dog –  Variable size from a small lap dog, 1 inch long to a full size St. Bernard that could measure up to 5 inches long.

In most parts of North America canine tracks will surely be the majority of tracks you’ll find. However, knowing the difference between feline and canine tracks and what to look for, you may just be in for a treat and discover Bobcat or if you’re really lucky a nice set of Mtn. Lion tracks.  Good luck and Happy Tracking!!