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How to Build Your Birdhouse

Endless Ideas and Easy to Follow Birdhouse Construction Plans

By Peter Wodehouse

Copyright 2006 - All rights reserved

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How to Build Your Birdhouse by Peter Wodehouse

Page 2 of 91

Please Read This First

Terms of Use

This Electronic book is Copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. No part of this

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Disclaimer

The advice contained in this material might not be suitable for everyone.

The author only provides the material as a broad overview by a layperson.

The author obtained the information from sources believed to be reliable and

from his own personal experience, but he neither implies nor intends any

guarantee of accuracy.

All claims made for any product, treatment or other procedure in this book is

only the author’s personal opinion. You must do you own careful checking on

any significant matter.

The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian or

other qualified, professional advice.

The author, publisher and distributors never give legal, accounting, medical

or any other type of professional advice. The reader must always seek those

services from competent professionals in specialist areas.

The author, publisher and distributors particularly disclaim any liability, loss,

or risk taken by individuals who directly or indirectly act on the information

contained herein. All readers must accept full responsibility for their use of

this material.

Copyright © 2006 Peter Wodehouse

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How to Build Your Birdhouse by Peter Wodehouse

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About the Author

Peter Wodehouse is passionate about birds because of the pleasure they

freely give us, and other contributions they make to our well-being and the

world around us.

He feels that, if he can do it, then building a few bird-houses and setting

them up is not beyond the most ham-fisted tool user. We can all help redress

in a small way the damage to birds’ habitat that humans are causing at a

rapidly increasing rate.

This hobby is one that all members of our family can share, just as they will

share the rewards as the variety and number of birds around us increase

when they take advantage of the newly available accommodation.

Gardeners will notice another benefit because more birds will mean fewer

insects and other problems too. That means a better environment for us all.

Copyright © 2006 Peter Wodehouse

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Table of Contents

Please Read This First ...................................................................................................2

Terms of Use .................................................................................................................................. 2

Disclaimer ....................................................................................................................................... 2

About the Author..............................................................................................................3

Table of Contents .............................................................................................................4

1. Building a Birdhouse – An Overview ..............................................................9

History of Birdhouses ............................................................................................................. 9

Building Your Ideal Birdhouse.............................................................................................. 10

2. Why Build a Birdhouse ..........................................................................................12

3. Types of Birdhouses ...............................................................................................14

Common Birdhouses ................................................................................................................. 14

4. Birdhouses for Different Species ....................................................................16

Robins ......................................................................................................................................... 17

Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Titmice............................................................................ 17

Bluebirds.................................................................................................................................... 17

Wrens.......................................................................................................................................... 17

Barn Swallows and Phoebes.............................................................................................. 17

Tree and Violet-green Swallows ...................................................................................... 18

Purple Martins ......................................................................................................................... 18

Woodpeckers ........................................................................................................................... 18

Flycatchers................................................................................................................................ 18

5. Materials Used for Building a Birdhouse ....................................................19

6. Tools Used to Build Your Birdhouse..............................................................21

The Tools You Need............................................................................................................... 21

7. General Specifications for Your Birdhouses.............................................22

Specifications for Birdhouses in Inches...........................................................23

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8. How to Build a Birdhouse ....................................................................................25

Preferences of Your Winged Friends.............................................................................. 25

Necessary Precautions When Building Birdhouses...................................................... 26

9. Tips for Building a Birdhouse............................................................................28

10. Build a Birdhouse from Scraps in Less Than an Hour......................30

How to Build................................................................................................................................. 30

11. Painting or Staining Your New Birdhouses............................................32

How to Paint Birdhouses......................................................................................................... 32

Materials You Need................................................................................................................ 32

Cautions When Painting Your Birdhouse...................................................................... 33

How to Attract Birds to Birdhouses .................................................................................... 34

12. Birdhouse Basics - What to Look for in a Birdhouse........................35

13. Choosing the Right Birdhouse .......................................................................36

14. Useful Tips for Placing Your Birdhouse....................................................38

Tips for Placing your Birdhouse ........................................................................................... 38

15. How Many Birdhouses Should You Have? ..............................................40

16. How to Help Birds Make Their Own Nests..............................................41

Useful Nesting Materials ..................................................................................................... 41

17. Nesting Behavior of Different Birds ...........................................................43

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius).............................................................................. 43

Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens)................................................... 43

Barn Owl (Tyto alba) ............................................................................................................ 43

Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor).......................................................................... 43

Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)........................................................ 44

Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)............................................................................... 44

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) ........................................................... 44

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)..................................................................................................... 44

Purple Martin (Progne subis)............................................................................................ 44

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Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) .......................................................... 45

Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)...................................................... 45

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) ......................................................................................... 45

Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla)........................................................................ 45

Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)................................................................... 46

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) ................................................................. 46

Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula).................................................................. 46

East and West Screech-Owls; Eastern - (Otus asio); Western - (Otus

kennicottii) ............................................................................................................................... 46

Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea)............................................................... 47

Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) ................................................................. 47

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)............................................................................... 47

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)............................................................................ 47

Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli)......................................................................... 47

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) ................................................................................... 48

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) ........................................................................ 48

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) .............................................................................. 48

Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus) .......................................................... 48

Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) .............................................................. 48

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)............................................................................. 49

18. Habitat Requirements for Cavity-Nesting Birds..................................50

American kestrel .................................................................................................................... 50

Ash-throated Flycatcher and Great Crested Flycatcher ......................................... 50

Barn Owl .................................................................................................................................... 50

Black-capped chickadee and Carolina chickadees.................................................... 50

Chestnut-backed chickadees and Mountain chickadees ........................................ 51

Eastern Screech Owl and Western Screech owls ...................................................... 51

House Wrens ............................................................................................................................ 51

Brown-headed Nuthatch ..................................................................................................... 51

Eastern Bluebird ..................................................................................................................... 51

Mountain Bluebird and Western Bluebird .................................................................... 51

Tree Swallow............................................................................................................................ 52

Violet-green Swallows ......................................................................................................... 52

19. How to Hang a Birdhouse.................................................................................53

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20. Tips for Monitoring and Cleaning Nest Boxes ......................................55

Monitoring and Cleaning Birdhouses .................................................................56

Monitoring before the start of the season ................................................................... 56

Seasonal Monitoring ............................................................................................................. 56

Monitoring after the Fledglings fly-off .......................................................................... 56

Cleaning the Birdhouses.......................................................................................................... 57

21. Different Birdhouse Designs...........................................................................58

Common Birdhouse Designs .................................................................................................. 58

Purple Martin House ............................................................................................................. 58

Passerine Nest Box................................................................................................................ 58

Wood Duck Nest box............................................................................................................. 58

Wren Houses ............................................................................................................................ 59

Essential Features of Your Birdhouses.............................................................................. 59

22. Birdhouse Design Tips........................................................................................61

23. Directions for Building a Birdhouse ...........................................................63

Steps for Making a Birdhouse ............................................................................................... 63

Essential Tips ........................................................................................................................... 63

24. A Birdhouse for Beginners ...............................................................................66

25. Purple Martin Birdhouse....................................................................................67

26. Milk Carton Birdhouse ........................................................................................69

How to make a Milk Carton Birdhouse .......................................................................... 69

Directions .................................................................................................................................. 69

27. Free Woodworking Birdhouse........................................................................70

28. Bluebird Birdhouse ...............................................................................................71

Directions .................................................................................................................................. 72

29. Eastern Bluebird Birdhouse.............................................................................74

30. Western and Mountain Bluebird Birdhouse...........................................75

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31. Traditional Cedar Birdhouse ...........................................................................76

Items Required:...................................................................................................................... 78

32. Cedar Fence Picket Birdhouse .......................................................................80

33. Northern Flicker Birdhouse .............................................................................82

34. Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers Birdhouse...............................83

35. Free Birdhouse Plan.............................................................................................84

Materials Required................................................................................................................. 84

36. Gourd Birdhouse ....................................................................................................86

Materials Required To Build a Gourd House. .............................................................. 86

Things to know when making a gourd nest - ............................................................. 87

37. Birdhouses Frequently Asked Questions.................................................89

What is the ideal size of the Birdhouse entrance hole? ......................................... 89

Where can I find Cedar Fence Pickets?......................................................................... 89

I want to paint my Birdhouse. Is it safe to do that? ............................................... 89

What can I use to hang my Birdhouse, apart from clothes hanger wire? ...... 89

Can I nail the Birdhouse in place instead of using screws? ................................. 89

Why do advertisements read, ‘Perch optional’ only for display, do not

use?’ ............................................................................................................................................ 89

What is a ‘Rubber Hose’? Is it similar to garden hose? ......................................... 90

At what height should I build Purple Martin’s Birdhouse? ................................... 90

What kind of roof should I make for the Purple Martin? ....................................... 90

I used no wire when I hung the Birdhouse. Can I do it now? And, if so -

how? ............................................................................................................................................ 90

Copyright © 2006 Peter Wodehouse

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How to Build Your Birdhouse by Peter Wodehouse

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Part-I: Introduction

1. Building a Birdhouse – An Overview

Building birdhouses is an excellent hobby

that combines your ornithological interests

with your skills in woodcrafts. You can make

wooden birdhouses that help many different

species of wild and domestic birds to nest and

breed.

Many birdhouses are wooden but some are a

mixture of wood and concrete.

Most birdhouses are cuboids with a sloping

roof. Some have a special hinged top to make

it easier to clean them when the occupants fly

away. Some breeders also find those openings convenient to feed the young

ones.

Boxes with open fronts or a hole at the front are very popular. Often, bird

lovers create fancy birdhouses, some of them even resembling a human

house or multi-storey apartments.

You can make birdhouses with gourds. Milk cartons are a simple and

recyclable object that you could use for building your birdhouse. Some bird-

watchers love to design highly detailed birdhouses and they make them from

of the best possible materials.

It’s up to you. You’re the builder of this birdhouse!

History of Birdhouses

Building birdhouses has been a popular activity since the days of tribal

settlements in Europe and North America. Native American tribes used to

hang hollow gourds for purple martins to come and nest in. These tribes

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reared purple martins to keep away turkey vultures, which would otherwise

plunder the tribes’ meat racks.

Since then, making birdhouses to provide birds with shelter has been a

hobby with many bird-watchers for years.

Building Your Ideal Birdhouse

A Birdhouse needs to provide sufficient opening and ventilation for to give

the birds’ easy access while keeping them protected from predators and also

providing you adequate access to clean after the young birds leave.

Sometimes, bird-watchers and breeders monitor movements of the birds

they house. They need suitable openings to observe the birds in their house.

The interior dimensions should also allow easy movements for the birds.

Birds vary greatly in sizes and the house(s) that you build should fit the

needs of the type of birds you want to attract and help.

Wood is the best material for making birdhouses. The best types of wood are

redwood and rough-cut cedar, which do not deteriorate when exposed to sun

and rain.

The natural insulating properties of wood are far superior to other materials

like metal and plastic that overheats and makes it stifling hot for the birds.

Many builders use pressure-treated lumber, but this is not very safe. The

copper-arsenate chemical that is routinely applied to it could be toxic to the

birds if not properly applied.

Your birdhouses should blend with the surrounding habitat to make the birds

feel at home. You may mount the birdhouses on fence posts, tall trees or on

poles that were specifically set up for the purpose. Whatever type of

birdhouse you choose, you must provide adequate protection from predators.

Sheet metal and aluminum plates can help to keep predators away from your

birdhouse.

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Although most birds nest in cavities in rock or trees in their natural habitats,

they also love to nest in birdhouses. Birds that will use birdhouses include

Buffleheads, American Kestrels, Common Barn Owls, Wood Ducks, Northern

Saw-whet Owls, Eastern and Western Screech Owls, Northern Flickers, Red-

headed Woodpeckers, Barred Owls, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Golden-fronted

Woodpeckers, Purple Martins, House Sparrows, Bluebirds, Red-breasted

Nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees, Black-capped Chickadees, Oat Titmice,

House Wrens, Great Crested Flycatchers and many others.

You can build a birdhouse even within a limited space. You can build a

birdhouse in a garage or shop, too.

Copyright © 2006 Peter Wodehouse

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2. Why Build a Birdhouse

Man is destroying increasing amounts

of our planet’s birds’ natural habitat

and building more concrete jungles.

Birdhouses are the best alternatives to

natural features for providing nesting

spaces for birds. There are many

hundreds of bird species in America.

Only a small percentage of these birds

can now nest in natural cavities. So,

many will welcome the opportunity of

nesting in your birdhouses - especially

birds like wrens, bluebirds, chickadees, titmice and even wood ducks.

Industries pour out ever-greater amounts of various air pollutants. The use

of pesticides in agricultural areas is affecting many different bird species.

Many people want to do their bit by building birdhouses and inviting these

winged guests to make their homes in birdhouses. The chirping and songs of

birds help you wake up in a good mood, too.

Building birdhouses does not have to make a major dent in your pocket

either. You can get great enjoyment from building them for your feathered

friends.

Birdhouses should have adequate provision for easy cleaning. Cleaning the

interiors of the houses regularly can help you provide safe habitation for the

birds.

Making small holes in the roof and floor can allow smooth drainage. It also

provides natural ventilation to birds. Use your imagination and creativity to

make the birdhouses look more attractive. Iron poles and sheets can provide

protection to birds from their enemies. You can suspend birdhouses from

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wires but you must use some method to keep them out of the jumping range

of squirrels and cats.

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Part-II: Birdhouses Types

3. Types of Birdhouses

There are many different types of

birdhouses. You can get many

birdhouses at the local shops or

make them yourself with easily

obtained materials.

However, the factor that will decide

on which birdhouse you buy or

build is the type of bird that you

want to attract.

Every species of bird has special preferences

about the type of nest or birdhouse that it will

use. Tree swallows, wrens, and bluebirds prefer

single unit, enclosed birdhouses. Bluebirds and

tree swallows prefer open areas with fewer

shrubs and trees while wrens prefer nesting in

boxes close to shrubs. Phoebes and robins like a

sheltered platform, rather than closed nest boxes.

Common Birdhouses

You can find the following birdhouses suit the

typical nesting habits of different species of birds.

Single-unit nesting boxes are the most common type of birdhouse.

Woodpeckers and great crested flycatchers are common birds that pre e

f r

such nesting places. Red-bellied woodpeckers require an entrance hole of

more than two inches in diameter to accommodate their size. Woodpeckers

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do not normally add any nesting materials to a box. Therefore, place a few

inches of wood chips to provide a cushion for the eggs. The great crested

flycatcher, however, will bring its own nesting material into the box.

Purple Martin houses are available in many different styles and sizes.

Purple martins love nesting in colonies and mostly prefer such birdhouses to

nesting in the wild. They also nest in artificial, or real, gourds where an

entrance hole has been cut in them. You can put up plastic gourds, which are

easier to clean than real ones, to attract purple martins. These houses also

offer a cool interior for the birds.

Bluebirds and tree-swallows prefer birdhouses on poles in an open area.

Bluebirds bring in pine needles or fine grasses for their nests. Tree swallows

live in similar habitat with entrance holes of around one and half inch in

diameter. This size prevents starlings from entering.

Place birdhouses along the edge of wooded areas to attract small birds like

the tufted titmouse and black-capped chickadee.

Place your birdhouses under the roof eaves and on a deck to attract house

wrens. They build nests in birdhouses that are placed within your house too.

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4. Birdhouses for Different Species

Every bird species prefers a different

type of birdhouse for nesting and

breeding. You can attract specific

species of birds by offering the type of

environment and birdhouse that they

prefer.

While attracting any specific species,

you have to safeguard your birdhouses

from being taken over by starlings and

sparrows. A simple tactic is to place

birdhouses within ten feet of the

ground, as sparrows and starlings do

not inhabit such houses.

Different categories of birds like Chickadees,

Bluebirds, Titmice, Purple Martin, Swallows,

Owls, Woodpeckers, Flycatchers, and many

others love nesting in birdhouses. Additionally,

you can provide them with food and water as

major incentives. Hanging a wire cage with

nesting materials like twigs, fiber scraps, wool,

and feathers, can also attract these birds to your

birdhouses.

Particular features in your birdhouses can attract

particular species of birds. Some birds’

preferences include:

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Robins

The common robin prefers the crotch of a tree. Place a nesting platform at a

height of at least six feet under the shade of a porch or a tree trunk. A small

mud puddle is a definite incentive as robins use mud to line their nests.

Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Titmice

These species share the same food habits and habitat. Chickadee houses

should, ideally, be at eye level with an entrance of about one inch in

diameter. Hang the houses from tree trunks. Sometimes, these birds stay in

the courtyard all through the summer months if they are able to get

sufficient peanuts.

See Milk Carton Birdhouse Plans

Bluebirds

Bluebirds prefer birdhouses on wooden fence posts or tree stumps at about

three to five feet off the ground. These birds require an entrance hole with a

diameter of an inch and a half. This can keep away starlings and house

sparrows, which prey on all baby bluebirds and, sometimes, also on the

adults. A metal predator guard can help keep away other predators like

snakes and cats.

Wrens

Male wrens make many houses for their females to choose the most suitable

one. So, you attract wrens by hanging many birdhouses on partly or dimly-lit

tree branches. These birdhouses should have a horizontal slot of a minimum

of one by two inches instead of a circular hole. This allows easy movement

for the wrens. These birds prefer to stay close to your home. See Milk

Carton Plans.

Barn Swallows and Phoebes

These birds prefer nesting in uncommon places such as above your front

door or on the eaves of rooftops. Place your birdhouses in such places to

attract these birds.

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Tree and Violet-green Swallows

These swallows prefer birdhouses on dead trees. These birds are insect

eaters, so it is best to place their birdhouses near a pond, river, or lake.

Violet green swallows abound in forested and semi-woodland regions.

Purple Martins

These birds prefer to nest in colonies. Their birdhouses need to have around

four big rooms of about six inches on all sides. The entrance hole should be

around two inches in diameter and about an inch and half from the floor of

the house. Purple martins require around forty feet of open flying space

around their houses. These birds need to be able to perch safely on railings

and even on the wire used for hanging their houses.

Birdhouses for Purple martins should have adequate ventilation and

drainage. Gourds with entrance holes cut into them can serve as birdhouses

for these birds. Their houses should be at a height of ten to twenty feet

above the ground. See purple Martin birdhouse design.

Woodpeckers

Red-bellied woodpeckers and flickers prefer birdhouses with rough interiors

and with around two inches of sawdust or wood chips on the floor. Put their

houses on tree trunks and exposed to direct sunlight.

Flycatchers

These birds prefer abandoned woodpecker holes. Put their birdhouses about

ten feet from the ground on trees in orchards or near the edges of streams

and fields.

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Part-III: Building a Birdhouse

5. Materials Used for Building a Birdhouse

Wood is the best choice of material for

making birdhouses. It has natural

insulation properties that are ideal for

birdhouses. Plywood is a cheap material

for making birdhouses but you can also

use fir, pine and cedar.

The most durable woods to use are

three-quarter-inch thick bald cypress or

red cedar. Pine and plywood are not

that durable. A coat of water-based

latex paint on the exterior can increase the life of pine and plywood

birdhouses. Local lumber stores could provide you the necessary scrap.

Do not treat the insides of the birdhouses with any chemicals or

preservatives, as these fumes are harmful for the birds. You also should use

brass or galvanized nails, screws and hinges to join all the parts. These help

to secure keep the birdhouse tightly. Galvanized screws do not rust. Gluing

the joints before nailing them can increase the life-span of your birdhouse.

You’ll see plans for birdhouses that suggest you use nails but many experts

say that nails are dangerous. You should use screws but, if you decide to use

nails anyway, be very careful to ensure that the nails are firmly embedded so

that they cannot hurt the birds.

Aluminum and plastic houses may suit purple martins. Some also use old

pottery or natural gourds for nesting. All birdhouses should have proper

drainage, adequate ventilation and be easy to access for regular cleaning and

monitoring of the health of the young birds.

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Birdhouses that are made out of plastic and aluminum are something you

might consider but we do not give you any information on how to make