How to make a birdhouse

Want to attract beautiful birds to your garden? Find out how to make a pretty birdhouse. Plus, discover birdhouse-building tips and great ways to make your backyard a bird-friendly space.

By Lorraine Flanigan
Design and Instructions by Kate Fox-Whyte

Why songbirds need birdhouses
The early morning chirping and chatter of songbirds makes a welcome start to any day. But as bird populations become increasingly threatened by pesticide use, city lights, global warming and destruction of habitats, the birdcalls are diminishing.

In 2009, the Toronto Botanical Garden launched a birdhouse design competition called For the Birds. Entries from three categories -- professional designers, students, and individuals with an interest in birds -- were submitted for display and judging. The showcase of birdhouses helped raise awareness of the plight of songbirds and promote ways of providing safe nesting sites.

Build a birdhouse
Bring the birds back to your yard by building a nesting box that's custom-made for the songbirds in your region. Each species has its own particular wish-list of household amenities. Purple martins, for example, like to live in colonies that look more like bird condos than snug little bungalows. Screech owls need a generous entrance hole (about seven and a half centimetres in diameter), while house wrens require a scant three-centimetre opening. A little research will help you design your dream birdhouse -- and while you’re at it, you’ll learn more about the fascinating life of songbirds, too.

Building a birdhouse needn't be complicated or require creative flights of fancy (although it’s fun to add your own distinctive touches). The goal is to make a house that's durable, weather-resistant and safe. Start with the right materials: natural cedar weathers well and is untainted by preservatives; the exterior may be painted white to reflect heat, but never paint the interior.

Photo gallery: Entries from the For the Birds competition


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