Recycling found objects to make quirky and funky art for your outdoor spaces can be fun, and it’s also rewarding to know that by recycling or upcycling what others may throw away, you’re helping keep the trash piles a little lighter and the landfills a bit smaller. Making a nesting box for the birds is a great project to start with, and handmade birdhouses can be decorative and functional.
Making your own birdhouse is a lot easier than it may seem. Go look through your bins of scrap wood pieces, gather objects of interest (strange things you threw in a box somewhere in the basement two years ago), and get to work putting them all together for a one-of-a-kind piece of art that you and the birds are sure to enjoy. If you don’t want to tackle the job of making one yourself, there are plenty of pre-assembled kits available, or you may buy a ready-made birdhouse to embellish with your found objects.
If you are starting from scratch and making your own birdhouse, be sure you find out the requirements for the specific bird you are wanting to attract. The entrance hole to a birdhouse will determine the type of bird who will take up residence and nest there. If the hole is larger than required for smaller songbirds, an uninvited bird may show up. Look to the birding experts at Cornell University for advice and direction on habitat and nesting needs of the birds, and use the bird guide for what species of birds you will be more likely to attract in your yard. For example: An eastern bluebird requires open spaces (backyards and parks will do); they like to eat insects and berries but feed their young caterpillars and worms; they like to nest in snug boxes that are 4 to 6-inches square with an entrance hole of 1 1/2 to 1 3/4-inches. A pair of bluebirds nesting in a well-designed bluebird house will have one to three broods with a clutch size of two to seven eggs each time.
But what if you already have a cool and funky birdhouse but it has the wrong size entry hole? If you want to enlarge the pre-drilled hole of an existing house, simply use a bigger paddle drill bit to enlarge the hole, and make sure to file down any rough edges left from the cut. If the hole is too large, decrease the size of the hole by taking a square piece of leftover wood, drill the appropriate sized hole through the piece, and attach it over the existing hole on the birdhouse with small nails or carpenter’s glue. A piece of metal will work as a re-sizer as well, but make sure the edges are filed smooth.
With a little planning and thought, you can go a step further and plant a bird habitat garden. Provide food, water and a place to hide, in addition to a place for the birds to rear their young. You’ve got that one covered! Site the birdhouse in a location where you have the possibility to add these things and grow your bird garden.
For more advice and inspiration, check out this gallery of my favorite examples of bird-attracting garden art.