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Violett's 2-Holed Bluebird Nest Boxes . . .  



Advantages of Hanging Boxes: Hanging Boxes:


Walk-up Hanging Boxes:

Post-mounted boxes can be easily converted to hanging boxes and monitored the same as post-mounted boxes if hung at eye level.  Just add a hanger, hang it on a low tree limb or hang it on a higher limb with a longer hanger.

Photo of Rick Violett monitoring a backyard hanging nestbox.


Any nestbox can be retrofitted with a hanger add-on.


There are several ways you can add a hanger to boxes.   A quick search on the Internet will provide you with several options from which to choose.   Whichever style you prefer, be sure it is sturdy enough to hold the box without pulling off the the tree branch or fastener.   Most hangers are made from wire but I prefer 1/4" solid rods for larger (heavier) boxes.

Here in urban Southern California, the vast majority of boxes are hung from trees in public parks, cemeteries, sport fields and schools.  There is a wealth of information about hangers and lifters at:   Southern California Bluebird Club

How to Build a:  Purvis Lifter (basket & attachment for pole).  Practice with cardboard on the basket before cutting the wire just to make sure things fit.  Got a heads-up from the Nestbox Builder that the basket layout directions in the above link need a doublecheck.  If you plan to build a larger box, increase the sizes.  It is important that lifter baskets are built large and deep enough to completely hold the nestbox size of choice.  If a tall nestbox is placed into a shallow lifter basket, the nestbox could tip and spin out of the lifter basket.  Practice lifting boxes to low heights without extending the pole and gradually increase heights as it becomes comfortable for you.

If you don't want to mess with the wire basket, here's another option:  San Clemente Lifter

Here is a link to: Huell Howser's Video on Hanging Boxes



Making Sturdy Hangers for Larger Nestboxes

This web page shows how to make heavy-duty 1/4" stainless steel rod hangers so that larger (heavier) 2-holed nest boxes can be hung from tree branches.  To build the nestbox, see  Construction plans 


The best source of affordable stainless steel rod stock for the heavy-duty hanger design shown on this page can be found on the internet, and specifically from Ebay.  You should request lengths of 36 inches.


1)  Thread 3" of the rod:    Try to find someone to machine thread three inches of one end of the rod for you.  That will save you the time and trouble of securely locking the rod in a vise grip and doing it yourself with a tap & die set.  If you do it yourself, be sure to purchase and use the special tap & die oil while you cut the threads.  Without the oil, it takes considerable strength to cut the stainless steel rod, things will overheat,  the cuts won't be even and the rod might bend or break.

2)  Shape the Hanger:  To shape the rod (see photo above) put a couple of inches of the unthreaded end of the rod into a table-mounted vise grip.  Lock it in and push down on the rod to make a bend at the end.  That little bend is an added safety measure to make sure the hanger doesn't accidentally slip off the branch.  Loosen the vise grip to make the shape of the hook by using slight pulls as you move the rod length through the vise grip.  After the hoop is shaped, lock in the rod and make the bend so the threaded end points downward as shown in the photo.



3) Spin a nut and a T-Nut onto the hanger
Spin a nut all the way up the threaded portion of the rod.  Then do the same with a T-Nut (stainless steel T-nuts are much stronger than zinc).  The plain nut will help support the T-nut when the hanger assembly is put on the box and tightened.



4) Drill the Hole in the Roof   Find a 1/4" drill bit and drill a hole into the roof of the nestbox.  Notice that I add a brace across the top outside of the roof for added strength.  If you add a brace to your box, position it slightly toward the back so that the box tilts slightly forward when hung.  Having the box tilt slightly forward will help prevent rain from blowing upward into the holes.

5) Insert the hanger into the nestbox roof:
The threaded end of the hanger is inserted into the roof hole.  The teeth of the T-Nut will rest loosely on the roof until you tighten things down later from inside the box.  The T-nut teeth will bite into the wood and will keep the rod and box from spinning after it is hung in the tree.





6) Tighten the Hanger Assembly

From the inside of the box, slip on one or two washers, add a locknut and tighten with a deep-socket



Placement Tips:

  • Choose sturdy healthy tree limbs which the hook can easily slip over
  • Try to place between or near upright branches to keep hook in place
  • Clip away branches that might provide ants a highway into the box
  • A small bit of Tanglefoot can be smeared on the wire but not near the roof where it might get on the feathers of birds.  Coiling a pipe-cleaner around the upper hook helps to keep it in place.
  • Watch wind patterns and try to find a tree that is protected and/or in a calm spot
  • If you have snakes in the area, try adding a Krueger trap to the trunk of the tree and/or on the hanger branch.  Or try adding carpet tack strips to the tree trunk.
  • No other guards are necessary because hanging boxes are virtually protected from large climbing predators such as cats, raccoons, bears, opossums
  • Both post-mounted boxes and hanging boxes should have at least 8" drops (hole to floor) to protect from avian predation (hawks, starlings, crows, jays, grackles, etc.)


Purvis Lifter System:

Hundreds of boxes throughout southern California are monitored by dozens of dedicated Bluebirders using the Purvis Lifter system which uses a swivel basket hoisted up by a telescoping pool pole.

In public areas congested with people, hanging boxes can be placed as high as twenty feet and will discourage most theft and vandalism.  To get boxes to that height, you will need to build a special lifter box designed by Dick Purvis of Anaheim, California.




Species that have used hanging boxes on my urban and mountain trails:

  • Western Bluebirds

  • Wood Ducks

  • Ash Throated Flycatcher

  • Tree Swallow

  • House Sparrow

  • White Breasted Nuthatch

  • Pygmy Nuthatch

  • Wren

  • Mountain Chickadee



Hanging Wood Duck Box:

Also separate web page on:  Wood Ducks

And, yes, it was snapped up the first year it was offered at Green River in 2009 (see hen sitting on eggs below):