Woodpecker Nest Box from cedar pickets – lightweight, inexpensive Two is company, five is a full house!

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Flicker parents making "home improvements" on their nest box

This project shows how to build a large nest box for Northern Flicker woodpeckers, using lightweight, inexpensive cedar pickets. The whole project costs less than $30, (less than half of prefab boxes) and has added features. Fun and easy to build, even with basic tools. A completely FREE PDF with custom plans is in the Store.

The problem:

Flicker populations are in a steep decline of 49% in North America due to loss of habitat and competition with invasive Starlings.

We had a family of Flickers that built a nest in our apple tree and successfully raised five healthy babies, even though the nest was really tight with all those little bodies rapidly growing in there.

Those babies, now mature, are looking for nesting sites to start their own families and we have seen them competing with each other, and the parents, to occupy the apple tree nest. In order to avoid family squabbles, we wanted to provide another nest box, this one large enough for lots of kids!

And you thought two kids bickering in the backseat was bad!

Birds bickering and shoving each other in the nest
“Mom! She’s shoving me!”
Mom in driver's seat turning around to yell at misbehaving kids
“If I have to stop this car…!”


The solution:

The advantages of using cedar pickets, rather than dimensional lumber called for by similar nest box plans include;

  • 2″ x 8″ x 12′ cedar lumber weighs up to 35 pounds – pickets weigh less than half of that
  • 12′ boards are difficult to transport, but 6′ pickets fit inside most cars
  • Cedar boards are expensive, pickets for this project are about $20
  • Flickers need something to grab onto and rough-sawn pickets provide a great surface
  • Building this yourself costs less far less than purchasing a pre-made box, and include several features not found on other nest boxes

The video shows step-by-step how to turn the eight individual pickets into two 6′ boards, which are then cut down to create the panels for the nest box. The plans are also included as a PDF below and contain specific measurements. These are my own modifications to plans posted by the excellent Cornell University’s NestWatch website, (originally published by Woodcrafting for Wildlife), since my nest box is made from cedar pickets.

While I do use some tools not everyone has access to, as usual, I mention simple and inexpensive alternatives for those with a modest toolset.

The cover over the entrance with the rough opening shown in the video is optional, though I think the Flickers will be happy to be able to “make this house into a home.”


Summary of Steps:

  1. Assemble pickets into wide, thick boards 
  2. Cut boards into nest box panels
  3. Assemble panels, creating the box
  4. Attach hardware to hang the nest box
  5. Observe cavity dwelling birds moving into to their spacious new home!

See how we are protecting the natural Flicker nest in our yard from squirrels, cats, raccoons and other climbing creatures. Since putting it in two seasons ago, no animals (other than Starlings) have been able to get anywhere near the nest.

If you have any tips or tricks, especially for excluding Starlings, please make sure to leave a comment below.

Plans for Flicker Nest Box PDF

Free for a limited time in the Uncharted DIY store!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I may earn a small commission on items bought using them. These are the same recommendations I would make regardless of any compensation. For products that I have older versions of, I recommend the items that I would replace them with if I were buying them new. 

Resources for Woodpecker Nest Box from Cedar Pickets

These are the tools I used in this project. You do not need all of them, so feel free to substitute with tools you have available.

1-1/4″ Electric Brad Nailer

From Amazon
Alternative to air compressor/pneumatic nailer

PORTER CABLE 18GA Pneumatic Brad Nailer

From Amazon
Inexpensive alternative if air compressor available

1/3 HP 3 Gallon Pancake Air Compressor by Central Pneumatic

From Amazon
Light duty compressor, perfect for brad nailers, tires, etc.

25 Foot QUICKDRAW PRO Self Marking Tape Measure

From Amazon
Never have to stop measuring to find a pencil!

Living World Pine Shavings, 2500 Cubic Inch

From Amazon
A nice soft filling for the box, lets the birds “customize”


There are more DIY projects in the works, so stay tuned to Uncharted DIY. Feel free to comment, post photos of your Woodpecker Nest Box or ask questions about this project.

Uncharted DIY is for DIY enthusiasts tackling uncommon projects, utilizing common tools and often on a limited budget

Uncharted DIY is for DIY enthusiasts tackling uncommon projects, utilizing common tools and often on a limited budget