1 bird feeder
Birdhouses are available at almost any hardware store or easily assembled from kits purchased from your local craft store, but building your own is far more rewarding and sustainable. For example, you might want to build a bird house out of scrap or reclaimed wood, or ditch mysterious chemical wood glues for screws like the old school does. Of course, one of the most obvious advantages is the ability to customize the design.
It’s fun to build a cozy abode for your beloved backyard friends and extremely beneficial to its potential residents. Bird feeders provide them with a safe nesting place away from the elements and predators. And with an ever-growing number of bird species in crisis, these cheerful and unfathomably important animals need all the help they can get.
Size, design and safety of the bird house
There is no golden rule for how big a bird house should be or what it should look like. Ultimately, a sloping roof is recommended for drainage, otherwise perches should be avoided attract Predators, walls should be thick enough to provide insulation, and wood should be untreated so it’s non-toxic.
In terms of size, different birds require different measurements. A large bird like the crested woodpecker may need up to two feet in height to fully fit in the nest box, while an average wren might only need six inches. If you’re trying to attract a specific species of bird to your crate, check out Cornell University’s handy species-specific nest structure plans.
The following DIY birdhouse is just the right size for small, common birds like titmouse, wrens, titmice, and house finches, which have been known to visit a range of environments — even cities. Feel free to adjust the dimensions to suit the species you wish to attract.
Planks of wood ¾ inch thick and 6 inches wide with a total length of at least 4 feet
15 to 20 zinc plated screws about 1 ½ inch long
4 zinc plated screws about two inches long
Small bag of wood shavings
6 ½ inch strips of rubber or roofing felt
Predator protection (optional)
Choose a type of wood
Pine, cedar, and cypress are great options for bird feeders because they are weather resistant, well insulated, and durable. While it’s great to use reclaimed wood, it should be untreated and unvarnished. Otherwise, this type of wood can be purchased in planks from your local lumber dealer. Whenever possible, buy FSC-certified wood.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a great place to find affordable used tools and unused building materials like lumber and screws.
Measure and cut panels
Measure the dimensions for each of your panels and mark each piece with a carpenter’s pencil. Each piece is rectangular except for the sides, which have two sloping angles (to accommodate the sloping roof).
- Base/Bottom: 5″ x 4 ½”
- Front: 5″ x 7 ½”
- Back: 5″ x 12″
- Roof: 6 ½” x 6″
- Sides: 6″ (bottom) x 7 ⅕” (edge #1) x 9 ½” (edge #2); repeat for two identical side pieces
Use a miter or circular saw to safely cut the wood.
Assemble the walls
Assemble your bird house from below. Screw the side panels to the base, leaving ¾ inch on either side to even out the thickness of the front and back panels. Screw the front panel onto the base and side panels, then repeat with the back panel, aligning it with the top edge and leaving a few inches of exposed wood on the underside. This makes it easier to assemble the bird house.
Nails work too, but screws are stronger and last longer.
Drill vent and drainage holes
Using a ¼-inch drill bit, drill four holes near each corner of the bottom panel for drainage. Then, using a ¼-inch or ⅛-inch drill bit, drill two holes near the top (roof) edge of each side panel. These are for ventilation to prevent the chicks from overheating.
Cut entrance hole
The size of your entry hole is very important. If you’re aiming to attract small birds like tits and wrens, it’s important to keep the larger house sparrow, which can fit through a 1 ¼-inch opening, out. House sparrows are invasive and “harmful” to tits and thrushes. Mass Audubon says. They are very common and widespread in the US except in heavily forested areas.
Mark a 1 ⅛-inch hole—the one for nuthatches, chickadees, warblers, and anything smaller—about five inches from the bottom. A circle drill, also known as a “hole saw,” works best for cutting such a small and precise circle, but those with steady hands might have success with a thin-bladed jigsaw.
Install the roof
You want a hinged roof so you can lift the “lid” and clean your birdhouse. A strip of flexible rubber or roofing felt works better for this than actual hinges as it is waterproof and provides extra insulation. Screw the rubber all the way into the underside of the roof and onto the inside of the back panel.
Add wood chips
Laying a thin layer of wood shavings at the bottom of your bird house will create the feeling of a freshly dug cave. It will help attract birds to your nest box and make them more comfortable. A handful or two is probably enough, but use your discretion.
Assemble your bird house
According to Mass Audubon, a multispecies aviary like this can be mounted anywhere from 4 to 20 feet tall. You can hang the birdhouse from a tree (alive or dead), a fence or a house, but if you attach it to its own post or pole you can keep other critters out with a protection like a stovepipe or collar. Screw the back panel directly into the bar with your longer screws.
See Cornell’s nest structure plans for species-specific birdhouse placement tips.
frequently asked Questions
Which birds use birdhouses?
Hundreds of bird species benefit from birdhouses, from owls and kestrels to robins, warblers and swallows. Ducks also use nesting boxes. However, different species have different needs when it comes to birdhouses. See Cornell University’s species-specific blueprints for more information.
Which type of wood is best for a birdhouse?
Untreated, unvarnished and FSC certified pine, cedar and cypress are ideal as they are weather resistant, well insulated and durable.
In which direction should your birdhouse be oriented?
Bird feeders should face a direction that has a free flight path and that strong sun and wind cannot penetrate.