Having your local wild birds call your yard their home is not just about watching the beauty that comes with seeing them fly from branch to branch or raising their young, but they also do an excellent job of keeping the insect population under control. So, if you want to attract cardinals, bluebirds, or wrens, the best thing you can do is learn how to build a birdhouse. This can be a fun, simple project for the whole family, and one that’s affordable and easy to do.
Table of Contents
This is a beginner-friendly project, so it’s perfect for the kids, under adult supervision. While mom or dad will have to do most of the work, there are plenty of steps that the kids can handle as well.
The first step will be to purchase, cut, and sand the wood. Both cedar or pine are great, affordable choices. However, you can use any type of untreated wood. You’ll start off by measuring and cutting the wood. You’ll need wood cut to the following specifications:
- 1-fourteen inch by five and a half inches
- 2-nine inch by five and a half inches
- 1-seven inch by five and a half inches
- 1-four inch by four inch
- 1-nine inch by four inch
Lightly sand down any rough edges once you have all of the wood cut to these specifications.
The next step is to assemble the bottom, roof, sides, and back using nails. Make sure that the sides of the house sit flush with the base of the house. The back of the house should hang approximately one inch below the bottom. If you need some extra help, you can use a clamp to keep the edges straight.
The next step is drilling. You’ll need to drill an entrance hole in the center of the front panel at one and a half inches. The hole should be drilled about two inches from the top. There should be a quarter of an inch gap between the roof and the top of the front. This gap provides the necessary ventilation and also allows the front to pivot open.
Next, you’ll secure the front of the house using one nail on each side about half an inch from the top. Ensure that the front of the house can easily pivot. This panel will make cleaning much easier, once the birds have left the nest for the season. To prepare to mount the house you’ll drill a hole at the bottom or top edge of the back.
Painting a birdhouse isn’t necessary but it can be a great way to let the kids participate in this fun project and give the birdhouse a little touch of style. If you do decide to paint the house, make sure you choose light colors since darker colors tend to attract too much heat. You should also avoid painting the inside of the house.
You can attach a pivoting catch at the bottom of the door in order to prevent it from swinging open. For this, just use a bent nail.
Mount the Birdhouse
The house should be mounted six feet off the ground, within a hundred feet of trees or shrubs. If you decide to make multiple birdhouses, make sure you space them at least fifty yards apart to prevent birds from becoming territorial.
Attracting Birds to Your New Birdhouse
The first step is making your yard bird-friendly. This can include hanging the best squirrel-proof bird feeders, such as the Homestead Super Stop-A-Squirrel. Add a water feature, such as a birdbath, and place the house in a sheltered location, out of direct sunlight, if possible.
Designing Your Own Birdhouse
- If you want to design your own birdhouse, make sure you incorporate the following features:
- The right entrance hole size, based on the species of bird you want to attract
- The right house height and cavity depth
- Make sure you include ventilation holes, which will keep the interior of the house nice and cool
- Add some drainage holes, which is designed to keep nestlings comfortable by removing waste
- Make a deep roof overhang to keep the rain out
- Choose natural materials such as untreated wood
- Avoid varnishing the house
- Use natural colors on the exterior
- Avoid adding a perch since this makes it easier for predators to climb
- Be sure to add a side door or hinged roof to make it easier to clean
The Perfect Location
In order to design your own house, you first must learn what type of cavity-nesting birds are commonly found in your area. These are the birds that will most likely come to your yard and check out the house to determine if it’s suitable for nesting. Designing your own birdhouse doesn’t have to be complicated, however, it’s best to have a plan before you decide to wing it and start cutting up lumber. There are many free birdhouse plans available online, which can also make your job a little easier. But if you have woodworking experience, then designing your own house will be a piece of cake.
If you’re a beginner, then building a house from scratch may seem a little intimidating, even if you do have detailed plans to follow. If that’s the case, then you may be better off purchasing a kit, which comes with all the supplies you need and precut wood. You can also purchase a plain birdhouse and make some modifications to it, to give it a more unique feel.
The Right Tools
You won’t be able to build a safe, good house if you don’t have the right tools on hand. Make sure you have the right saws, hammers, screwdrivers, drill bits, and other types of tools needed for this type of project. Be sure to reread the project instructions before you dive in and ensure you have everything you need. In addition to the right tools, you’ll need the right materials for the house. For most plans, you can use upcycled or recycled materials, both of which are perfect for building a birdhouse. This can include using parts of barns, doors, fences, or well-seasoned wood, all of which birds will appreciate.
- The type of backyard predators that can be a threat to birds that reside in your newly built birdhouse includes stinging insects, mice, snakes, squirrels, rats, raccoons, cats, and pets. Other species can also injure or kill the parents or baby birds, either to take over the nesting box or they will kill and eat the inhabitants. In order to ensure your birds are safe from any predators, make sure you follow these important tips:
- Remove any perches. A bird doesn’t need a perch to access the inside of the house. These perches simply work as a handhold for a predator. Make sure you also remove any branches nearby that a predator can use to climb with.
- Make sure your pets stay away from the birdhouse. You can spray them with a hose if they venture too close to the house. This method can also be used if you notice raccoons or squirrels attempting to access the birdhouse.
- The opening of the birdhouse should be the correct size based on the type of bird species you want to attract. If the hole is too large is can be dangerous for growing birds who may accidentally fall out of the hole. A hole that’s too small can cause a bird to get stuck or can make it difficult for them to get in and out of the house. Additionally, birds may avoid using the house altogether if the entry hole is not the right size.
- The house must be placed far away from brush to prevent any waiting predators from ambushing the inhabitants. However, it should be close enough to plants to allow parents to fly out from time to time to get food for their young.
- Give the house some camouflage by using muted colors that will allow it to blend into its surroundings, easily. Browns and greens are both great choices and will be the most appealing to birds scouting the area in search of a nesting spot. If you want to decorate the house, you can do so using natural materials that are designed to keep the house concealed, however, you can still make it an ornamental focal point for your yard without using loud colors or materials.
Learning how to build a birdhouse can be fun for the whole family, whether you’ve purchased a kit, you’re using plans you’ve found online, or you’ve decided to design a house yourself. Building a birdhouse with your own two hands ensures that you create a home for birds that is attractive, comfortable, and safe. A good, durable house can be used for generations of bird families and allows you to reap all the benefits of keeping a family of nesting birds in your yard.