The Field Supplies

Hint: put up the first two nest boxes with a good friend. The first one I put up, I fumbled, stared at the tree, and thought of all the things I should have brought. The second one went better; now I can almost do it blindfolded. It looks more impressive when you're in front of a group. Just off the top of my head, here is a list of specialized stuff (i.e. I'm not listing map, compass, matches kind of stuff here):

  • ladder (or someone named Tarzan) - some of my boxes are way off the road, I used to make ladders on site (store them off the ground so they don't rot), but now I use a collapsible, backpack-mounted combat ladder available from QuickStep. See photos of me using the ladder at one of my sites.
  • food (especially treats for your volunteers!)
  • next box(es)
  • 3" screws (4 or 5 per box, make sure they're meant for outside use) - I use Robertson screws (square head) because they stick to the screwdriver the best. Phillips is next best, slots are the worst by far.
  • screwdriver bit for the cordless drill (the RIGHT screwdriver bit); and an extra one in your pocket, too.
  • screwdriver, because those batteries you thought were charged, actually weren't!
  • cordless drill (not one of those cordless power screwdrivers...they don't have the power) and a spare set of batteries
  • drill bit - I pre-drill the screw holes in the back of the box before screwing...much easier! You could do this part at home, too, but I'd bring the bit anyway, you may need another hole in a particular spot to make the job just right.
  • rope - 15 m is plenty
  • a plastic bag - for gathering local leaf litter - put the leaf litter in the box after it's mounted, but the door not yet closed.

    ...or, bring shavings from non-treated wood. I put about 3 cm into the bottom of the box.


  • a camera is always nice
  • a saw, an axe can be handy too.
  • a GPS unit with good batteries.


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R.F. Lauff
Department of Biology
St. Francis Xavier University
Antigonish, NS Canada B2G 2W5