Living rural in the city is hip and urban – and you can, too.

Using old wood to build a birdhouse

You can find many examples of bird houses online, and here I found a decent pattern for a “one board” bird house. I had off-cuts of a bunch of old fence boards that I wanted to use, and the measurements worked.

This project shows you how to build a bird house in less than 45 minutes, but just like with pancakes, my first version is less than perfect. You’ll learn what to watch out for when starting out with perfectly good-but-used materials. If you have a slightly more meticulous approach, you will end up with a prettier result.

What you’ll need:

  • finishing nails to put it all together
  • a nail gun or hammer and nail sink,
  • two round, smooth nails or deck screws for the door hinge,
  • another deck screw to close the front (between nesting seasons, it’s your job to clean the birdhouse out – also an interesting and informative project),
  • a drill with a same-size bit for the deck screws and a spade bit ranging from 1-⅛” to 1-½,” depending on the bird you want to attract,
  • two spiral nails to fix the birdhouse to the post top,
  • and a post, either round like a fence post and implanted into the ground or held by a support, OR
  • a 4×4 fence post anchored in a cement deck block with a wood shim.

The height of the door hole and the diameter of the door influences what kind of bird might take up residence. This chart is only a part of the one I found in this Internet Wayback Machine archive from TrueValue Hardware.

Nest Box dimensions and entrance height and diameter
The rest of this chart includes nuthatches, woodpeckers, owls…oh my. Its source was from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

This birdhouse could, if I lived in a more meadowed neighbourhood, house bluebirds. Instead, I’m likely to welcome a pair of chickadees.

Also note: there’s no peg like one often sees with store-bought birdhouses.Why not? Well, unfortunately, that peg provides a nice roost for predators. So don’t add a peg to your birdhouse designs, and if you have a house that has one, research the species of bird for the birdhouse (tree swallows seem to like having a front porch on their nesting boxes…) and consider cutting it off.

Although not “perfect” according to my mistakes, it’s absolutely good enough to house a pair of birds. I’ll do a better job with the next nest box, which I might install in a public place.

Speaking of which: If you live in an apartment, you could try installing it on your balcony or your building’s rooftop, but I’d search within a sight-line of one of your windows for a municipal signpost – and hang it at a good height. As you can see from the chart, you can go up even 15 feet. Indeed, hanging bird houses is in the public interest, as people will enjoy seeing it, especially if it gets used.

2 Comments

  1. Drew Modic

    Awesome find! Thank you for posting this, I’ve been wanting to build some nesting boxes but needed the correct dimensions

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