Building a bird house is a fun and easy project, something you can do by yourself or with your kids. And a bird house that is well-designed and well-placed can bring many years of enjoyment, for you and the birds!
Before going through the effort of building a bird house, you should consider a few things. What type of bird are you going to attract? Each species has its own needs for the size of the house, and the location where it is placed. You also need to make sure you're building for the types of birds that are in your area. Also, do you have a place on your property to place a bird house that will be enticing to birds? If its not located correctly, you won't get any tenants. Also, as a landlord, can you maintain the house? While not difficult, it is important if you want feathered tenants each year. Lastly, do you have the tools and skills to build one? Instead of building from scratch, you might decide to build from a kit, which will save you a lot of cutting and drilling.
Once you decide you want to build a bird house, you'll need to get a set of bird house plans. A general set of plans will be useful if you want to the same style house for different types of birds, as each species has its own unique requirements for the bird house size. You can find several websites that have these types of plans, along with detailed building instructions. The plans will show you what pieces you will need to cut and the dimensions of those pieces for the particular type of bird you are building for.
Next, you'll need to select your building materials. There are different material options for building a bird house, but for a do-it-yourself (DIY) option, wood is typically the way to go. You'll want wood that is decay resistant, like cedar or exterior plywood. You'll also need to assemble the parts using a good quality exterior wood glue, nails or screws, and possibly caulking. Keep in mind, too, that if you are building from scratch you will need a saw, drill, and a Forstner drill bit that will create the correct hole size for the particular bird house you are building. And no, you won't need a dowel for the perch. Predators will find a perch more useful than the birds will!
If you do decide to finish your bird house with paint or stain, be sure to only finish the outside, never the inside, of the house. The chemicals in finishing products can be harmful to baby birds.
Finally, you will need to decide how to mount and where to place your bird house. Depending on the species of bird, there are different mounting options. Some can be hung from a wire, some should be attached to a tree, and others should be placed on top of a pole. Where you locate the house is important, too. Birds have certain criteria, such as being near water, or in a shaded area or open field, and they won't inhabit a house that does not meet their criteria. A little research will pay off in this area.
The first rule is to know the bird you are building the house for. No bird house is guaranteed to attract feathered tenants, but a well-designed and well-placed house will certainly increase the likelihood of success.