Unless you have musician neighbors, the prettiest sound you’ll hear in your backyard is the call of songbirds. Of course, that means you have to invite them into the yard in the first place, and there’s no better invitation than a short-term rental your feathered friends can call their own.
The challenge is that small songbirds will only stay in a residence where they feel safe. If the entry hole and space inside are too large, the songbirds will quickly be evicted by larger, more aggressive birds. And, unfortunately, crows and blue jays aren’t known for the pretty sounds they make. That’s why this house is sized just right for birds such as starlings or sparrows. Pair the house with a squirrel-proof bird feeder and you may even get songbirds to overwinter in the residence.
The design is fairly plain, but you can spruce it up with paint or decorations to match the look of your yard or garden. Birds won’t be put off by unusual color schemes. Just make sure to hang the birdhouse where predators such as cats can’t get to it, or the birds will head to more welcoming pastures. In any case, plan on disassembling the birdhouse after a few seasons to clean it out and keep your bird visitors safe from parasites and diseases.
The construction itself is basic and translates to a super-easy woodworking project. Even if your skill level is firmly in the “beginner” camp, you’ll find this birdhouse doable. Just keep in mind that a small project such as this is not forgiving of errors; be precise and careful with your measurements and you’ll wind up with a yard accent that does justice to the birds and the landscaping in equal measure.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED Time: 20 minutes | Difficulty: Easy
Hole saw with 1 1/4” bit
Power drill and bits
2 1/2” paintbrush (optional)
Small-gauge chain or
HOW YOU MAKE IT
- Use the circular saw to cut 1 x 6” end deck boards into two sidewalls 8 1/2” long; a floor 4” long; and front and back walls 11” long. Use a speed square to mark two 45° cuts in one end of each wall to create a peak. Cut the roof pieces 10” long, and rip one down to 4 3/4” wide.
- Use a 1 1/4” hole saw to drill the entry hole in the front wall, 8” up from the bottom and centered side to side.
- Sand the pieces with 100-grit sandpaper. Make sure the entry hole is smooth.
- Clamp the floor of the birdhouse to a worktable and align a sidewall in position along one long edge, with the edges flush. Drill pilot holes through the base. Coat the edge of the floor with wood glue and nail the wall to the floor with finish nails. Repeat with the opposite wall.
- Attach the front and back walls in the same way, edge-gluing the surfaces to one another and drilling pilot holes for the finish nails along the edges.
- Clamp the shorter roof surface to the worktable and align the longer one along the edge. Drill pilot holes, coat the mating edges with wood glue, and nail the roof together.
- Set the roof in place on the birdhouse body, centered front to back. Drill pilot holes every 2” along the front and back edges. Coat the mating edges with glue and nail the roof to the walls.
- Putty over nail heads, sand, and paint as desired. Screw in two eye screws opposite each other on either side of the roof. Hang the birdhouse from a tree limb with small-gauge chain or paracord.
CUSTOMIZING YOUR BIRDHOUSE
This project includes some features that may not be advisable, depending on how you want to use your birdhouse and what birds you’re hoping to attract. If you want to guarantee the longevity of your birdhouse, you may want to substitute galvanized screws for the finish nails used here. The birdhouse also makes use of a one-and-onequarter- inch entry hole, but some birds prefer different size holes.
The chart below provides measurements for common birds you may be looking to attract. Also be aware that placement of the house will affect whether birds will use it. Aside from the height recommended above, keep birdhouses away from thick shrubs or branch growth that could serve as concealment of access to the birdhouse for a predator such as a cat. It’s ideal to maintain a clear line of sight around the birdhouse, wherever it is hung or mounted on a post, wall, or tree.
Bird Hole Size Placement Height from Ground
Eastern Bluebird 1 1/2” 8’ high, in open area
Tree Swallow 1” 6-8’ high, in open area
Purple Martin 2 1/8” 20’ high
Tufted Titmouse 1 1/4” 8-10’ high
Chickadee 1 1/8” 6-8’ high
Nuthatch 1 1/4” 20-25’ high
Wren 1” 8-10’ high