From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Simple Bird House

More About Birds and Animals... My Various Hobbies...



Wren house

Here is a simple bird house that I made last winter from some wood scraps.

This nestbox was made to wren specifications. Yesterday, I watched a pair of wrens carrying many small sticks through the door. They were working hard. I was surprised what large twigs they carried.

I have used the same basic plan to make several bluebird houses over the years. I have two up now. They are mounted on tall steel fenceposts, and bluebirds are nesting in them.

What's the difference between a bluebird house and a wren house?
1. The size of the entrance hole
2. The area of the floor
3. The distance from the entrance hole to the floor

Many webpages provide information about the birdhouse dimensions to use for various birds, so I won't go into all that, but I do want to share this handy cutting diagram that you can adapt to any size of nest box.

Birdhouse cutting diagram
This design uses two scrap pieces of wood. One piece should be a couple inches narrower than the other. Make each side piece at least one inch longer on its longer side than on its shorter side, so the roof will slant enough to drain water. Make the back at least three inches longer than the longest side measurement.

The easiest way to make the entrance hole is to drill it with a spade bit. If you don't have the right size of spade bit, you can drill many tiny holes around the circle and then cut it out with a jigsaw blade. (Wrap tape around the end you hold.)

To make the birdhouse, nail the four walls together. I hope you can see how the walls fit together from my not-too-good sketch at left.

Then measure and cut the bottom. Don't worry if the bottom doesn't fit perfectly tight as long as a bird wouldn't get its foot stuck in the crack. Also drill a small drain hole (smaller than a bird's foot) in each corner.

Last, attach the top with a hinge. The birdhouse in the photo has two strips of scrap leather as hinges. I bent a piece of light aluminum and stapled it over the back of the birdhouse lid to prevent rain from driving in there. The aluminum also covers the leather hinges.

I didn't have a hook on hand for the front of the lid, so I used two little screw eyes and put a twist tie through them.

A few more tips:
  • Don't use exterior plywood or pressure treated wood because of the chemicals they contain.
  • Don't paint the inside of the birdhouse.
  • Let any paint on the outside of the box age a few months before giving the house to the birds.
  • Use a rasp, nail, or awl to scratch the wood horizontally inside the box below the entrance hole. Rough wood supposedly helps the baby birds get a toehold when it's time for them to leave the box.
  • Secure the box to its post at both top and bottom. If you are using a wooden post, you can put use screws, or if you are using a metal post, you may need to wire it to the post. Either way, drill the holes before you take the house to the post, and the job will be much easier.


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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.