Homes for birds and more

PGC Photo/Jake Dingel

Want to be a wildlife host this spring? The Pennsylvania Game Commission is selling all kinds of houses.  Want to attract bluebirds?  You provide the real estate, the commission has the dwelling.  It also has homes for flickers, ducks, owls, bats, kestrels, chickadees...... 

And, uh, even squirrels. Although at my house, the squirrels are perfectly happy in the rain gutter.  Not to mention, I fear, the dining room ceiling. Oh dear.

Here's more info from the game commission's press release:

“Development consumes 300 to 350 acres of Pennsylvania’s landscape per day,” said Carl G. Roe, Pennsylvania Game Commission executive director.  “Although we can’t keep pace with loses caused by urban and suburban sprawl, the Game Commission is working hard to preserve and improve habitat on its 1.4 million acres of State Game Lands and other public and private lands.

“For years, our Howard Nursery has been constructing a number of different wildlife nesting structures for placement on State Game Lands and to provide to private landowners enrolled in the agency’s three cooperative public access programs.  This year, we decided to expand the types of nesting boxes that we offer for sale to the general public, beyond the popular bluebird boxes.”

Homeowners – the human kind  – can view the selection of nesting structures on the Game Commission’s website ( by clicking on “Deals on Wildlife Homes” in the “Quick Clicks” box in the right-hand column of the homepage.  The brochure and order form list the nesting structures by habitat type, to guide landowners in determining which nesting structure is best suited for their property. 

Available nesting structures, listed by habitat types, along with the size (in inches) and price, are as follows:

Open Land or Woodland Margins – American kestrel box, 24x12x13, $20; gray and fox squirrel box, 18x12x12, $30; bluebird, chickadee or wren box, 11x6x9, $7; northern flicker box, 32x8x12, $25; bat box, 36x25x10, $95; or winter roosting box (can be used by chickadees, wrens, nuthatches, titmice, woodpeckers or bluebirds), 30x10x14, $30.

Hardwood Forests – barred owl box, 34x17x18, $50.

Farmlands or Open Lands – barn owl box, 17x36x17, $55.

Wetlands and Associated Uplands – wood duck box, 32x10x17, $30; or mallard duck box, 24x13x13, $25.

Prices listed do not include shipping/handling costs, which range from $7 to $18 per unit, or applicable state sales taxes.  All boxes come assembled and with instructions on where and how to place.  The bluebird, chickadee, wren nesting box can be either fully constructed or provided in an unassembled kit complete with nails and screws.

Once an order is received, a representative from the Game Commission’s Howard Nursery will contact the customer to confirm the order and discuss scheduled shipping dates.  Completed orders can be mailed (P.O. Boxes are not acceptable for delivery), or arrangements can be made for customers to pick up their orders at Howard Nursery. 

For the do-it-yourselfer, the Game Commission has a “Woodcrafting for Wildlife” book for sale ($5.66 plus tax and shipping and handling) available through “The Outdoor Shop” on the agency’s website (  This book includes plans for 26 different nesting structures for a variety of wildlife species and different habitat types.

Additionally, landowners seeking to plant trees beneficial to wildlife may still place orders for tree or shrub seedlings with the Game Commission’s Howard Nursery.  For an update on seedling species still available, as well as an order form, visit the agency’s website (, click on the “Forms and Programs” section and choose “Howard Nursery Seedling Program.”

Facts from the Pennsylvania Game Commission: During the 2007-08 fiscal year, the Game Commission’s Howard Nursery wood shop produced and shipped 7,820 bluebird/chickadee/wren boxes; 15,188 bluebird box kits; 634 wood duck boxes and kits; and 360 other nesting boxes.