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Homemade Nest Boxes For Cavity-Nesting Ducks

The Metal Box

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has constructed and distributed substantial numbers of a metal nest box that is relatively easy to make. The entrance hole is located well below the rim of the metal cone to reduce the chance of a raccoon or a squirrel being able to reach the entrance from the top of the box (Figure 9).

GIF-Metal nest box

Figure 9. Metal nest boxes have been distributed throughout North Dakota by the Game and Fish Department. These boxes afford cavity nesters relatively secure nest sites. The security of the nest box is enhanced by locating the entrance of the hole well below the metal cone top as pictured above.

Materials Needed

one 46-inch x 33 ¾-inch metal sheet of 26-gauge galvanized sheet metal (body of the box)
one 28-inch diameter circular piece of 26-gauge galvanized sheet metal
one piece pine, cedar or plywood 1 inch x 3 inches x 6 inches (inside brace)
one circular piece of ¾-inch exterior plywood 14-inch diameter (floor)
Wood screws
eight 1-inch round head wood screws (for mounting the floor)
Pop rivets
18 ½- x 1/8-inch
four 1/8-inch diameter washers to fit ½- x 1/8-inch pop rivets (used in fastening the hardware cloth)
Hardware cloth
one 14-inch ¼-inch mesh strip cut 4 inches wide or similar type material
Nest material
enough sawdust, shavings, wood chips or similar type material to form a 4- to 5-inch nest base in box.


Start with the flat 33 ¾- x 46-inch piece of sheet metal. Cut the entrance hole of appropriate size (Figure 10) in the center of the sheet prior to bending.

Next, attach a 14-inch x 4-inch piece of ¼-inch mesh hardware cloth just below the entrance using pop rivets and washers. Then drill 1/8-inch holes for base screws and rivets in one side of the piece of sheet metal. These holes are 6 ½ inches apart on the bottom and 5 ½ inches apart on the side (Figure 10).

The base piece has a diameter of 14 inches and is made of ¾-inch exterior plywood. Four or more ¼-inch drainage holes should be drilled in the base. When assembling the structure, make sure the hardware cloth is on the inside. Starting with the undrilled side, attach the sheet metal to the wooden bottom with the eight ¾-inch screws rolling the base as you go. It is advisable to extend the metal walls about ½-inch beyond the bottom.

After the body has been attached to the wood bottom, the sheet metal will overlap. Bend and shape the sheet metal to form a cylinder with the same overlap at the top as at the bottom. Drill holes as necessary in the inside flap using the previously drilled holes as a guide. Rivet the top of the seam first using pop rivets, smooth side out. Finish shaping the seam by drilling and riveting the overlap using six rivets.

The top is made from a 28-inch diameter circular piece of sheet metal. A pie-shaped piece using 31 inches of the circumference is cut from the metal disc and discarded. The large remaining piece is then bent to form a cone and the edges are overlapped and riveted, smooth side out. The cone has a circumference which allows about an inch to overhang the cylinder. To complete the job, the cone is placed on the cylinder, then the overhang is bent down at three or four places, holes are drilled and the cone is fastened to the cylinder with two pop rivets. To facilitate mounting, one bend of the cone should be at the back of the box where it will be attached to a tree or post.

The metal nest structure is now ready to be mounted on a tree, pole or pipe. Instructions for placement are similar to those provided for other types of nest boxes. The usual method of attachment to a tree or wood pole is to insert a 4- to 6-inch lag bolt through a 1-inch inside brace board in the back of the box opposite the entrance (Figure 11). An additional lag bolt should be used at the bottom of the cylinder for added rigidity.

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