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Bird Boxes


MTH
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I recently came across a cache in a bird nesting box. A few weeks later and I'd have walked away with a DNF, but there was no sign of any bird activity and the placement and appearance of the box had geocache written all over it

 

I've questioned the suitability of this with the owner who pointed out that the box was sealed, at a height no sensible bird would consider nesting in and they had seen 6 other similar caches before.

 

However my view is that such caches send out the wrong message and suggest, especially to kids, that opening and looking in bird boxes is actually OK. I'm firmly in the banned camp on these, but just wondered what the general opinion is on here.

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I recently came across a cache in a bird nesting box. A few weeks later and I'd have walked away with a DNF, but there was no sign of any bird activity and the placement and appearance of the box had geocache written all over it

 

I've questioned the suitability of this with the owner who pointed out that the box was sealed, at a height no sensible bird would consider nesting in and they had seen 6 other similar caches before.

 

However my view is that such caches send out the wrong message and suggest, especially to kids, that opening and looking in bird boxes is actually OK. I'm firmly in the banned camp on these, but just wondered what the general opinion is on here.

 

Found one in a box that looked like a bird box, but had no opennings therefore no chance of birds being in it, and it was clear from the ground that it was a false box. I don't see a problem with that.

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I see his point but I do see yours too now. In fact, it hadn't occurred to me that a cache in a birdbox-style container, could encourage young children to open bird boxes. If it does, that can't be good. But maybe there's more to it.

 

I've only ever seen caches in birdboxes which are closed off to actual birds nesting in them (so the cache itself wouldn't disturb a bird). The ones I've come across were at a low height (not suitable for birds) and even the ones higher up, were in obviously climbable trees. The sort of tree a person who wanted to look after the bird in a public forest, would avoid as it was so obviously climbable without a ladder. What I'm saying is, I've only ever opened a birdbox, which was obviously a cache.

 

So does it encourage kids to disturb bird boxes..? well if it does, that's a really good point. But I'm not sure that it would encourage such behaviour which otherwise wouldn't happen, though. I may be wrong, but most birdboxes in public woods, seem to be sited in places which are particularly inaccessible to an unaided climber. Even the most misguided youngster who might think there would be a cache in a real bird-box (without any co-ords telling him/her to go there) would struggle to get to them, I think (or perhaps I'm wrong).

 

If it's really just opinion you're after, on the evidence that I've seen about caches I've done, I think that they are find if placed sensitively and sealed to actual birds then there isn't a problem. There is however, nothing to stop us all, spreading the word about keeping actual birds nests in mind and not to start encouraging kids to open real bird-boxes. Mind you, I'm sure someone will some up with something I hadn't thought of, and I'll have to change my thoughts! lol!

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I've only seen one of these hides - and others have said the "opening" was actually a black wooden sheet so no bird could have taken ownership. It was also 7 or 8 feet above ground on a pine tree so I doubt any child could climb up to it without a ladder.

 

There were other - real - bird boxes nearby and it blended in nicely to make a cunning hide. At the time I saw nothing wrong with it, and although I suppose it might encourage young cachers to investigate every bird box just in case it was a cache, there just as likely to disturb nesting birds by thrashing around in hedges and bushes surely? Should we ban all caches in hedges as well? I think not, and would only report one as a problem if I found a cache in a hedge close to an active bird nest.

 

Chris

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As the cache owner and as a parent of children who geocache alongside me I would like to add my viewpoint.

 

Children who are likely to find these geocaches are going to be caching with their parents who are in the main part outdoor/nature enthuisasts themselves who are trying out this sport in order to get their kids out and about enjoying the great outdoors. Therefore will have the common sense to know the difference between a geocache and a real bird box situated in any given location such as how Mellers put it above. A child who thinks it is ok to climb a tree to look in a real bird box probably would never have experienced geocaching.

 

Is it ok to put a cache inside a snail shell? I've seen plenty of those.

 

Many geocaches could be considered dangerous. Take for example the current trend with ammo boxes, are we to avoid every ammo box geocache on the off chance a hithertho undiscovered remmant of World War II.

 

Surely what it comes down to is common sense, and common sense dictates that a sealed bird box would not be in use.

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Seems like I'm in the minority here:huh:

 

The only thing I can add is that it wasn't obvious until after I looked in the box that the opening was sealed. It looked like a regular bird box, albeit one that had seen better days and had fallen from the tree. If it had been during the nesting season I would have walked away rather than risk disturbing a nest.

 

 

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I recently came across a cache in a bird nesting box. A few weeks later and I'd have walked away with a DNF, but there was no sign of any bird activity and the placement and appearance of the box had geocache written all over it

 

I've questioned the suitability of this with the owner who pointed out that the box was sealed, at a height no sensible bird would consider nesting in and they had seen 6 other similar caches before.

 

However my view is that such caches send out the wrong message and suggest, especially to kids, that opening and looking in bird boxes is actually OK. I'm firmly in the banned camp on these, but just wondered what the general opinion is on here.

 

The only caches I've seen in what would otherwise look like a birdbox have had a mesh over the opening so it's clear there's no way a bird could actually nest in the box.

 

I think the "sending a message" argument is one that needs to be considered but only up to a point. I don't have a problem with fake birdboxes, especially when it only takes a moment to figure they are fake.

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I am new to geocaching however would like to share an experience from only yesterday which does relate to this topic.

 

I was in an area which I know is the habitat for both bats and dormice. I arrived at GZ and was scouting around and saw what I thought was some kind of nesting box and immediatly said to myself - "ah keep clear of that". It didn't have an obvious "hole" for a bird but then neither do nesting boxes for dormice or bats, it was at a fair height and in wooded area.

 

It was only after I had spent some fruitless time searching for the cache that I resorted to the clue and discovered that the "nesting box" was indeed the cache.

 

I am not sure what side I would come down on in this issue - but this did make me stop and think, and perhaps that's the approach to take.

 

Just my two-penn'orth.

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Children who are likely to find these geocaches are going to be caching with their parents who are in the main part outdoor/nature enthuisasts themselves who are trying out this sport in order to get their kids out and about enjoying the great outdoors. Therefore will have the common sense to know the difference between a geocache and a real bird box....

 

I have a couple of Bird Box hides and another box ready to put up at some time. Mine are constructed in such a way as to prevent birds from nesting in them. And are marked with a Geocaching logo, to make it very clear that they are caches. The cache descriptions are also very clear that you are looking for a bird box and not to disturb any other bird boxes on route, and I have checked that there are no real bird boxes nearby.

 

It realy comes down to how you teach your children as you cache, you should explain to them not to interfere with other bird boxes. But point taken about the possibility of confusing them. Lets face it we encourage them to search for Ammo boxes!!!

 

The issues I have with bird box caches;

How to fix them without screwing them to a tree. All the research I read before hiding my caches, did say that there is no issue with screwing it to the tree, as far as health of the tree. But the screw will become a hazard when the tree is felled. But this method is not acceptable within the Geocaching community.

 

I also feel guilty that the birds find these very nice des'res, only to discover that the hole is blanked off!!

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This has been quite interesting for me, as I have built a fake bird box and have put the circle-X geocache sign on all sides. Never encountered one in my local area and thought I was being more original than obviously I am - but I hadn't put it out because of the reasons of the OP. Still undecided, but very interested in the viewpoints. I'm not too bothered about what the birds think, the fake hole won't fool them for long, but don't want to upset any cachers, or worse, muggles and smear the caching name. The height, location and obviousness seems key to that.

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However my view is that such caches send out the wrong message and suggest, especially to kids, that opening and looking in bird boxes is actually OK. I'm firmly in the banned camp on these, but just wondered what the general opinion is on here.

 

I disagree with MTH (Must Try Harder)

A clever cache hidden in a CLOSED birdbox won't mean kids will randomly try to open and look inside. Kids don't. I have seen 3 such caches. None would be available to a nesting couple. They would move on swiftly. (gettit?) :)

Edited by JoLuc
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I have a couple of Bird Box hides and another box ready to put up at some time. Mine are constructed in such a way as to prevent birds from nesting in them. And are marked with a Geocaching logo, to make it very clear that they are caches. The cache descriptions are also very clear that you are looking for a bird box and not to disturb any other bird boxes on route, and I have checked that there are no real bird boxes nearby.

 

That seems a very sensible approach. Part of the problem with this particular cache is that there was no indication on the cache page, no clear marking of the bird box and it was not apparent the box was sealed until after it was opened. It looked like a genuine bird box that had fallen (literally) on hard times. In the nesting season I would NOT have looked inside it for the cache.

 

There's another way to look at this: you're out caching but can't find a particular cache and there's a bird box nearby. Do you look in it? What if you have kids (or even adults) with you and one of them thinks "the last one was in a bird box, I'll look in here".?

 

I still think it's wrong, but since opinion seems to be against me I'll shut up now.

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I have placed two bird boxes which were either the cache or involved in the cache find. Both are/were clearly sealed off from bird access and at a low height that no self respecting bird would occupy. I have to say that all the real bird and bat boxes in woods that I see are placed out of reach of humans to stop people fiddling with them, so I think it highly unlikey that a child finding a bird box cache will end up disturbing a bird in a real box.

 

As it happens, one of the caches was actually stolen by a child. By chance he was spotted by a cacher leaving the park with the box in hand. When told what it was he refused to hand it over. :(

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I like birdbox hides, assuming they are sealed off etc. My young kids have seen me do hundreds of things that I wouldn't want them to copy until they were older and wiser: slicing food/fingers with readily accessible knives in the kitchen, changing electrical plugs/fuses, mowing the lawn in flip-flops (only kidding) ... the list is endless. Geocaching is relatively tiny part of my family's day-to-day life, and furthermore birdbox hides are a tiny fraction of that.

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I'm not sure where all this stuff about personal safety came from :unsure: My original point was about disturbing nesting birds. It also appears that I'm the only cacher who can't tell the difference between a real bird-box and a real bird-box. :)

 

I accept that a clearly fake box is OK, as is giving some guidance on the web page, but when the only way to tell the difference is to open the box (as it was in the one I found) then it's far too late.

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... However my view is that such caches send out the wrong message and suggest, especially to kids, that opening and looking in bird boxes is actually OK. I'm firmly in the banned camp on these, but just wondered what the general opinion is on here.

 

I'm not sure where all this stuff about personal safety came from :unsure: My original point was about disturbing nesting birds. It also appears that I'm the only cacher who can't tell the difference between a real bird-box and a real bird-box. :)

 

I accept that a clearly fake box is OK, as is giving some guidance on the web page, but when the only way to tell the difference is to open the box (as it was in the one I found) then it's far too late.

 

My intended point was not personal health and safety per se, but was addressing your point about influencing kids. In my own experience, and accompanied by normal levels of parental guidance, my kids have not gone on to copy undesirable activities having seen me do something once or twice in a particular context. Although I used personal health and wellbeing examples for illustration rather than animal health and wellbeing, I could have chosen any number of other activities (geocaching or non-geocaching) that further illustrate the point. That's all :)

 

In terms of whether adults should test a birdbox for geocacheness in their quest to increment their Find count, on balance that's a decision I would choose to leave to them, rather than banning that type of hide a priori.

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I accept that a clearly fake box is OK, as is giving some guidance on the web page, but when the only way to tell the difference is to open the box (as it was in the one I found) then it's far too late.

No It's not, look at the hole. You can tell without touching if it's sealed or not. Really simple!! Even if you can't tell, give the hole a prod before opening. If your finger goes in, real box, if it doesn't, fake box.

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It also appears that I'm the only cacher who can't tell the difference between a real bird-box and a real bird-box. :)

 

 

MTH - you are not the only cacher who has concerns here. We also have a bird-box cache and got a couple of comments similar to yours back in September, so you are not alone. I will say that we had no critical comments for the first two years and 100-odd cachers who found it. Then a reasonably experienced cacher made a comment like MTH's and then the cachers immediately afterwards agreed. However, since then, no more concerned comments. Maybe that is just evidence that most cachers do not wish to be seen to criticise.

 

I must admit to having a long think when we saw the comments. I can understand the concerns and if you have to get close to a bird-box to work out whether it is real or fake, then you have already disturbed it if it is real.

 

On balance, I felt that our bird-box was sufficiently obviously fake (too low, not fixed to the tree, has our caching name on the outside, hole obviously blocked) that I managed to convince myself that it was OK. I do think that any real bird-box will be mounted where it is very difficult for humans to access. If we were looking for a cache and saw a bird-box high up in a tree, we would leave it alone, even if we thought it might be fake (unless the cache page made it obvious that it was the cache).

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No It's not, look at the hole. You can tell without touching if it's sealed or not. Really simple!! Even if you can't tell, give the hole a prod before opening. If your finger goes in, real box, if it doesn't, fake box.

 

if you have to get close to a bird-box to work out whether it is real or fake, then you have already disturbed it if it is real.

 

No further reply needed

 

It's been an interesting debate, and one that's changed my view slightly. All I can ask is that anyone looking for a cache in a bird box during the nesting season makes absolutely sure they're right before disturbing it. If it any doubt then please walk away and come back another time. It would also be nice if cache owners gave some indication of the nature of the hide on either the page or by marking the box in a discrete way.

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I will be amending the cache in the coming day.

 

However I am rather dismayed that this topic seems to have turned into a criticism of my cache itself by the poster rather than staying on topic and discussing bird hides itself in general. In my defence none of the bird hide boxes I have found (and some of these were placed in country parks with rangers approval) had stickers on them indicating that they were caches, and some were in a much worse condition than mine.

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Part of one of my logs for a Found cache, from a few years ago:

 

PLEASE.

If you visit this one, watch out for the young mum bird, sitting on her eggs fairly near to the cache hide.

 

I found the bird, as she flew past my face at high speed, when I was two feet away from her nest! She's in "Just the right place to hide a cache." We stepped away to sign the log, quickly replaced the cache, and left her to return in peace.

 

The nest was at head height, not too sure who was more frightened!

Nest was out of sight until the last moment.

Birds can nest at any height, look at some of the strange places Robins nest...

 

Moved away after replacing the cache, and watched mum return to the nest.

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No It's not, look at the hole. You can tell without touching if it's sealed or not. Really simple!! Even if you can't tell, give the hole a prod before opening. If your finger goes in, real box, if it doesn't, fake box.

 

if you have to get close to a bird-box to work out whether it is real or fake, then you have already disturbed it if it is real.

 

No further reply needed

 

If a real bird box is placed low enough that you can get that close to it just by walking past then there's a problem with the positioning as well. That creates the kind of situation where someone could easily approach the tree from the other side, maybe climb the tree, jump down the other side... who knows?

 

It's been an interesting debate, and one that's changed my view slightly. All I can ask is that anyone looking for a cache in a bird box during the nesting season makes absolutely sure they're right before disturbing it. If it any doubt then please walk away and come back another time. It would also be nice if cache owners gave some indication of the nature of the hide on either the page or by marking the box in a discrete way.

 

That I can agree with, when I've found a fake birdbox hide it's been clearly visible from a fair distance that the hole is blocked so the combination of an obviously fake bird box and a GPS that says I'm within 15 feet of a cache is a pretty good clue. Were it not obvious that the hole was blocked I'd be inclined to leave well alone, not least because I wouldn't necessarily know what kind of bird, if any, might be living in it.

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