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them. We would rather see you make your birdhouses from wood.

Wooden houses are normally heavy and may weigh more than thirty pounds.

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6. Tools Used to Build Your Birdhouse

The tools that you may need to make a birdhouse depend on the type of

birdhouse you want to make. But, all the tools and accessories that are

necessary for the birdhouse plans in the later chapters of this book are

readily available at your local hardware store.

The Tools You Need

Screwdriver: The choice of screwdriver depends on the type of screws you

are using to build your birdhouse. The screw bit of a power drill or an

automatic screwdriver can help you to use less force when inserting the


Hammer: A strong hammer, ideally with a claw on the back, is useful for

making a birdhouse. The claw can be handy if any old or bent nails need to

be removed.

Saw: Powered circular saws are useful for cutting the wood pieces to the

necessary lengths. Handsaws require more energy and time. Otherwise, your

local lumber store could pre-cut the wood pieces to the sizes you require for

a small fee.

Drill with bits: A drill helps you to make the necessary entrance holes of

your birdhouses for the particular breeds of birds that you want to attract.

Additionally, you may have to drill many holes of different sizes for

ventilation and drainage.

Screws, Nails, Hinges and Fasteners: Use galvanized screws and nails

with small heads to make a strong and long-lasting birdhouse.

T-square: These large rulers help you to measure the wood accurately and

in minimum time.

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7. General Specifications for Your Birdhouses

Each species of birds have their own preferences for the

birdhouses they choose. Here is a helpful table to use when

building your birdhouses.

You need to double check the birdhouse plans you are using

to ensure that all the measurements are close to the

recommended specifications.

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Specifications for Birdhouses in Inches


Floor of Depth


Diameter of Height above



above Floor Entrance






5 x 5





4 x 4






4 x 4





4 x 4



1¼ 144-240

Bewick's Wren

4 x 4



1 - 1¼ 72-120

Carolina Wren 4 x 4



1 - 1½


Purple Martin

6 x 6





6 x 6







7 x 7





6 x 6







4 x 4






6 x 8


(one or more sides open)


Barn Swallow

6 x 6


(one or more sides open)



6 x 6


(one or more sides open)


Screech Owl

8 x 8





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Wood Duck

10 x 18 10-24 12-16



House Wren

4 x 4





Tree Swallow

5 x 5




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8. How to Build a Birdhouse

Building a birdhouse can be an excellent way

of spending family time together. You and

your family can make a birdhouse to put in

your backyard. Soon, you will all hear happy

and excited chirpings throughout the day. It

can be also be a good way to spend a quiet

Sunday at home. Although you may love to

paint birdhouses in bright colors, birds prefer

unpainted, roughly finished birdhouses that

are more like their natural nests.

You can add any number of innovations and

styles into your birdhouse. However, birds do

not care for any particular style. Each species of birds have specific

requirements for their houses. Therefore, you should make birdhouses for

the particular species of birds that you want to attract to your birdhouse.

Preferences of Your Winged Friends

The best choice for building a birdhouse is wood, especially cypress and

cedar. You can also use pine, although it is more expensive. Birds prefer

wooden houses to aluminum or plastic as it resembles their natural homes.

Do not paint or treat the insides of the birdhouses with any chemicals. They

may let out harmful fumes, which may be especially dangerous to your

feathered friends and their young. Similarly, unfinished interiors help the

young birds to clamber out more easily.

Provide sufficient protection from predators like squirrels and cats. Mount the

birdhouse at the top of a pole about six feet off the ground so that cats

cannot leap on to it. Also, apply slippery substances like petroleum jelly or

hot pepper spray to prevent cats from scampering up the pole.

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If you keep many birdhouses, keep them at safe distances from each other.

Birds have specific territorial rights and do not like to have others of their

kind too close by.

Keep the entrance hole away from the direction of the prevailing wind, to

provide protection for the birds from strong winds.

Make a few holes small in the back wall and the top to allow good ventilation.

Similarly, make sloped roofs to allow rainwater to drain off. Make some small

holes in the floor to let waste water to flow out.

Consider using a baffle to protect your birds. A baffle is a guard to keep

predators away. Some are cone-shaped so that a raccoon cannot get their

little paws into the nest and snatch a baby bird or an egg.

Necessary Precautions When Building Birdhouses

Building birdhouses can be a fun and an enjoyable way to spend time with all

your family members who can take part in building a birdhouse. However,

these few precautions will help to ensure a safe and happy time together.

Wear safety glasses while working on your birdhouse. Sawdust that might

be spat from wood or nails that fly while you are fixing parts of the birdhouse

can cause serious damage to your eyes.

Wear earplugs while using power tools for cutting the wood for the


Use a respirator, or at least a mask over your nose and mouth, to prevent

any inhalation of poisonous fumes or vapors - or even small wood particles -

while building your birdhouse.

Be very careful while handling tools that have sharp edges and points.

Any slight lack of concentration can cause serious injury to your hands.

Check all tools are in proper, safe condition before using them.

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Check for any nails that may protrude from the joints. These could scratch

you or your birds. The holes for nails should be a little wider than the nails.

This helps in easy removal of nails during cleaning.

Do not wear loose clothing while working on your birdhouse. Loose

clothing can easily get caught in tools, rotating blades and bits. The outcome

could be dangerous.

Adults must do all the cutting work when making birdhouses.

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9. Tips for Building a Birdhouse

Cypress and redwood are the best

for long-lasting birdhouses. Use ¾”

thick wood to provide sufficient

insulation against heat and cold. You

may also use white cedar, fir, and


Do not bother to give a thorough

finished look to your birdhouse. Birds

often prefer weathered, rough look

that resembles their natural nests.

Rust-resistant, round and oval screws and water-resistant glues can improve

the life and durability of your birdhouse. Galvanized screws are best.

The roof and floor of birdhouses should be easily removable to help thorough

cleaning every winter. Clean with a solution of a ½-cup of chlorine bleach

and two cups of water. Remove old nests at the end of the season, as they

could contain parasites and bacteria.

Drill 3/8 inch holes along the back of your birdhouses to allow sufficient

ventilation. Similarly, a few holes on the rooftop also help heat to escape in

summer and keep the inside cool for the birds. At least one hole at every

corner of the floor of the birdhouse can allow easy flow away of any

rainwater that gets inside.

Entrance holes should be according to the size of the bird. Rough or grooved

interiors can help the young ones to climb in and out through the opening.

Do not place many houses in a cluster. Some birds are fierce about their

territorial rights. Resultant conflicts could lead to you having many empty


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Birdhouses should be safe from natural predators like cats, snakes etc. Also,

shield the houses from direct sunlight and strong winds. The roofs should

have sufficient pitch and around three inches of overhang to drain away

rainwater. A little seepage into the house can be drawn away through a few

holes in the corners of the floor.

Do not put a perch near the entrance hole of the birdhouse. Nesting birds do

not require perches and such perches could prove helpful for predators to

attack the young ones and their parents too.

A thin layer of petroleum jelly on the insides of the roof prevents bees and

wasps from nesting in the birdhouse.

Do not use any toxic materials to treat the wood for your birdhouses. These

chemicals let out poisonous fumes that endangering the lives of your birds.

You can, however, paint the outside the birdhouse. Use subtle colors of

certified non-toxic paint so that it blends into the surroundings and gives

added protection from predators to your birds.

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10. Build a Birdhouse from

Scraps in Less Than an Hour

It is a simple job to make a

birdhouse from scraps within an

hour. Birdhouses can be of

different sizes and shapes to

suit the type of birds that you

want to attract to them.

Making a birdhouse for a house

wren is very easy. These birds

prefer urban locations and do

not mind nesting in a hanging


How to Build

Collect 1” standard lumber scraps from the lumber shops. A basic birdhouse

is a standard box with a roof. Front and back walls should be of the same

shape, around eight inches wide and ten inches in height. Each wall should

have 45-degree angle cuts meeting at a point at the top.

Drill the entrance hole with a diameter of 1½”. The entrance hole should be

around four to six inches above the floor of the birdhouse on the front wall


The height of the side walls is the distance between the start of the sloping

45-degree angles of the roof pieces and the bottom of birdhouse.

Use waterproof wood glue to glue the sides together. Then, nail the front wall

of the birdhouse to the sides. Ideally, the floor of the birdhouse should be

bigger in each dimension than the birdhouse. Add an extra inch to the width

and depth beyond the joint walls and cut out the floor to that size. Again, use

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waterproof glue to glue the birdhouse to the floor and then nail it where


Make two roof pieces. The first one should be at a 45-degree angle. The

second roof should be an inch bigger in each direction than the first roof. Fix

the bigger roof on the smaller one and then fix it to the birdhouse using glue

and nails.

If you really want to, make a perch but I advise against using them. Use a

good outdoor varnish for the outside of your birdhouse.

Now, your birdhouse is ready within an hour, depending on the drying time

of the varnish. Make sure that the varnish is totally dry.

You can hang it with a rope from any tree branch, or place it at the top of a

tree. Your feathered friends could soon take up residence in your birdhouse.

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Part-IV: Birdhouse Decoration

11. Painting or Staining Your New Birdhouses

You build birdhouses for housing

specific species of birds. The painting of

your birdhouses needs to be in accord

with the preferences of those birds.

Different birds prefer different colors.

Purple martins prefer white while some

others prefer beige colors. Research the

color choices of the species you want to

attract to your birdhouses.

Overall, birds find birdhouses with subtle colors more attractive. This is

because, in nature, female birds are of a lighter and duller shade than the

males. The dull colors protect the birds from predators. They can easily

mingle into the foliage. So, bright colored birdhouses do not attract as many


How to Paint Birdhouses

Materials You Need

¾ Painting palette

¾ Sandpaper

¾ White Gesso or Primer

¾ Water-based varnish

¾ Tack cloth (cloth that contains a sticky substance, used for removing

dust from a surface before painting

¾ Paintbrushes

¾ Sponge

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¾ Weathered Wood® Crackling Medium Acrylic paint

Sand your birdhouse and remove all sand particles with your tack cloth.

Apply primer and, then, allow it to dry. Apply a coating of slate blue paint.

Next, use square brushes and apply a thick coat of paint. Work in rows. Do

not apply paint, but use short, dabbing strokes to push the paint to the front.

Allow all the paint to dry.

Apply an even coating of Weathered Wood Crackling Medium over the base

paint and let it dry for half an hour. This medium separates applied paint and

gives a roughened and crackled look to your birdhouse.

You can use a sponge to bring out finer cracks in the applied paint. You can

use foliage colors on your sponge. Use light or dark green paint and apply

with light, jumping strokes. This is similar to the natural foliage and may help

the birds feel more at home.

Sponge brushes are the best for painting birdhouses as they do not hold

much paint and make its application easier.

Use two or three coats of external latex paint on the outside for finishing it.

Three coats of water-based polyurethane provide the finish to your painting.

Such finishes are environment friendly, and it is easy to clean them too. They

protect your birdhouse.

Cautions When Painting Your Birdhouse

Do not paint the inside the birdhouse. Birds do not nest in painted

houses or houses that smell of paint or of humans.

Do not use any strong chemicals in your painting like lead or creosote.

Birds often peck at their houses and could ingest some paint in the process.

This could be fatal or, at least, cause serious injury to them. Creosote is a

recognized wood preservative, but is toxic for birds.

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Similarly, wood in feeders should also not contain any such preservative. Do

not paint feeders in any bright colors nor use high-gloss finishes.

Each species of birds are very choosy about their houses. They will not go

anywhere near a highly decorated birdhouse. Therefore, do not decorate

your birdhouse extensively. Give it a basic, natural look and watch the birds

nesting and living in your birdhouse.

Do not paint near the entrance holes, as birds use this hole often for coming

in and out of the birdhouse.

Do not use dark shades for birdhouses as dark colors absorb and retain heat.

You can paint roosting houses for roosters in dark colors only for winter


How to Attract Birds to Birdhouses

Often, you have to wait for some time before birds choose to nest in your

birdhouses. Birds are wary of new objects in their familiar surroundings and

do not immediately accept your birdhouses.

You can try to entice them by adding a few birdbaths, feeders with grains

and nuts, and some swings too. Hanging the birdhouse in your backyard

garden helps to provide a definite supply of insects for your birds.

Birdhouses should be durable, waterproof and built for easy accessibility to

birds. Wooden birdhouses have natural insulation properties; cool in summer

and warm in winter.

Although you might prefer dark or bright colors for your birdhouses, it is best

to stay away from bright colors. These colors bring the birdhouses to the

notice of the many natural predators of birds. Neutral colors like soft green,

brown or tan offer the natural ambience to your birdhouses and birds feel

more at home.

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Part-V: Birdhouses Selection and Placement

12. Birdhouse Basics - What to Look for in a


Birds look for specific size of the entrance

hole and the height from the ground before

choosing your birdhouse as their home. The

preferences of a few bird species are:

Nuthatches prefer an entrance hole of

1¼” to 1 3/8” and like their house at a

height of five to twenty feet from the


Chickadees prefer an entrance hole of 1

1/8” and at five to fifteen feet from the


Bluebirds prefer an entrance hole of 1 1/2” and at distance of three to six

feet above the ground.

Purple Martins prefer a 2 1/8” entrance hole and for their house to be at a

height of ten to fifteen feet from the ground.

House Wrens prefer an entrance hole of 1¼” and at five to ten feet off the


Get your birdhouses ready just before Spring to attract birds in their

breeding season.

Do not use external perches.

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13. Choosing the Right Birdhouse

There is no single, definite choice of a birdhouse

suitable for housing your birds. There are many

factors in deciding the features of an ideal birdhouse

for hanging in your backyard garden.

Deciding factors include:

Material Used: Birdhouses should, ideally, be of

wood, especially unpainted and untreated wood. This

provides the natural habitat to the birds. Wood should

be around ¾” thick. An exception is, however, that

used for purple martins, which also accept aluminum


Ventilation: Adequate ventilation holes on the walls and sides are essential

in a birdhouse. These holes help keep the birdhouse cool in summer and

warm in winter.

Size: Birds require birdhouses to suit their size. The birdhouse should be

large enough to house them. At the same time, the houses should also be

compact to accommodate their nesting needs.

Therefore, before building your birdhouse, decide what birds you want in the


Entrance: The entrance hole should also be according to the size and

preference of the birds. It should have a shaded roof extension to prevent

strong winds and rain from entering the birdhouses.

Different birds have different preferences for the height of the entrance hole


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Perches: There should not be any perches in the birdhouse. This can prove

dangerous for the birds as their predators could use such perches to harm

the birds.

Access: The birdhouse should allow easy access to the bird. You also need to

have one of the doors with hinges to allow easy cleaning and monitoring by

you. Some birdhouses have the top in hinges to facilitate cleaning.

Some species will come back every year if they are able to get the same type

of nesting environment.

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14. Useful Tips for Placing Your Birdhouse

Proper placing of birdhouses

is as essential as its design

and the care in its

construction. Birds that nest

in cavities are very particular

about choosing a specific

birdhouse as their home.

Some birds survey the

location for many days before

finally choosing any particular

birdhouse. The surrounding

area should be conducive for birds to settle in your birdhouse. Sometimes

birds return to the same birdhouse every year.

Tips for Placing your Birdhouse

Place your birdhouses just at the start of spring, around late February and

mid March. Birds may not immediately start living in the birdhouses.

Different birds prefer different nesting habitats. Bluebirds prefer an open

habitat and nest closely with tree swallows too. Purple martins and screech

owls have specific preferences about their habitats. This is not so evident

with robins, wrens, chickadees and titmice.

Pairing boxes can allow two or more species of birds to nest closely. You can

place birdhouses in pairs on poles. Place them around fifteen to twenty-five

feet apart from one another. This brings in a variety of species of birds in