Building Birdhouses

The Basic Birdhouse

While there is probably an infinite number of designs for bird houses made from an infinite number of materials and devices. Here we are offering you the information you need to build a very basic birdhouse. The basic birdhouse design suits virtually all birds that nest in bird boxes. Its size and dimensions can be easily altered to accommodate most songbirds. As you can see in the table each bird has slightly different preferences. Probably the most important standards are those for the bluebird and the house wren. All the rest of the songbirds are more tolerant of some variations. Nature is not so precise when she allows holes to rot in the trees.

It is worth the trouble to make the roof or one side of a birdhouse detachable or hinged to permit inspection and easy cleaning. Pegs or perches on the outside are not usually desirable because they attract sparrows and starlings who prey on nestlings. If you want to attract these two species to houses intended for them, use a perch. Notice the ventilation holes at the top of the house. Some drain holes drilled in the floor are also a good idea.

Construction Materials and Equipment

Various materials are suitable for birdhouses, but wood is preferred. Wood 3/4 inch thick (called 1 inch) is very popular because it is easy to work with and it will insulate the parents and young from the heat. Metal is too hot and not recommended. Marine or exterior plywood is acceptable but the gas vapors from the glue may keep birds away for a year or two. The basic house offered here can be made from one piece of 1 x 8 inch pine board. The total cost is about $10.

Basic Tools and Materials Needed:
hand drill
hole saw
1/2 inch long galvanized nails
1/4 to 1 1/2 inch long galvanized screws (as thin as possible so the wood does not split)
hooks and eyes to keep the top or side closed.

Painting the Bird House

Never paint the inside of a birdhouse with anything. If you paint the outside, do not use bright colors like red or white. Use earth colors like dull green or brown or a clear wood preservative of some kind. Make certain the wood preservative is okay for birds. Do not use gloss paint. Some birds reject houses if they are shiny.

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