There is nothing more peaceful than watching songbirds prancing around the garden chirping away. Their endless activity can provide you with never-ending entertainment. However, with the trees rapidly disappearing from urban areas, the birds are also beginning to follow suit.
If you have a garden with a few trees, an excellent motivation for the birds to hang around is to build a birdhouse. It is also one of the easiest beginner woodworking projects. You can get more information about it in one of the earlier posts that we published.
Cedar is one of the most popular types of wood for making a birdhouse because it is durable, weather-resistant and it insulates well, keeping the birds warm inside. Other good types of wood include Redwood, Pine and Fir. When making a birdhouse you should avoid any treated wood as the chemicals used can be harmful to the bird.
Best Types of Wood for Making a Birdhouse
Now, armed with these useful tips on birdhouses, let’s jump into the types of wood you can use to make them:
Cedar resists rot reasonably well and will last for quite long if left out in the sun and rain making his wood is ideal for making birdhouses. This wood looks good as well.
It’s not the cheapest option but considering that cedar lasts a long time outdoors, the investment can pay off in the long run.
The bad publicity around redwood due to overlogging has been replaced by more sustainable logging and it is being used again for woodworking projects. This wood has an attractive grain and color and is exceptionally durable. Although it scratches and dents easily, this should not affect the good looks of your birdhouse too much.
Also, redwood exudes a red pigment, which gives it the name it has, but since it is a natural secretion, it should not be harmful to birds. Redwood has a natural resistance to weather, so it serves very well for woodworking projects for outdoor items such as birdhouses.
You can get pinewood readily all over the United States. Most lumber shops all over the country will stock this wood. Due to this reason, you will find it an extremely cost-effective wood for making birdhouses.
This wood is also quite easy to work with, and it is easy to cut since it is soft. The grain of pine looks pleasant, although in some varieties (like knotty pine) you’ll be dealing with a lot of knots.
You could in theory use this wood outside without applying a finish making it is a suitable choice of wood for birdhouses, although you’ll likely want to protect it with some kind of natural sealant.
Douglas Fir, like Redwood, is a prominent timber source in the northwest United States. This wood species is strong and weather-resistant, making it a common pick for outdoor furniture like picnic tables and Adirondack chairs.
Price-wise it’s usually in a similar range as cedar.
Cypress is considered a “wet climate” wood due to the natural water repellent it produces making a very suitable choice for outdoor use. It tends to deteriorate when directly in contact with soil, which will not be an issue if used for birdhouses.
You can put screws quickly into a cypress, but your job would be more comfortable with a pilot hole. You can leave cypress out in the open without finishing. However, if you coat the outside of the birdhouse with a natural varnish, it will last longer. The main drawback of this wood is the availability, while you can find it more readily available in southern US states (Florida, Alabama, Louisiana), it can be tough to source elsewhere.
Although this wood can get a bit expensive, teak makes useful outdoor items due to its resistance to weather. Teak exudes natural oils that are water-resistant. This oil also offers natural resistance to rot, decay, and insects. It is a durable wood that will last for several years without having to maintain it too much. Thus, you can use teak for making birdhouses and get the best results.
The problem with teak is that it’s not very sustainable but we’ve added it since this could be a nice project for reclaimed teak.
Before we begin our birdhouse project, here are a few useful tips for building birdhouses:
Tips For Building Birdhouses
Wood Is Best
The best material for birdhouses you can use is wood. You should avoid using treated wood, and do not use plywood.
Seal Your Fasteners
While assembling wooden birdhouses, you need to use galvanized screws. You can also get concrete coated or ring-shank nails. If you use conventional fasteners, the joints will become loose, mainly if you use cedar or redwood. You can use standard fasteners if you use pinewood.
Protect The floor
When you build your birdhouse, ensure that the sides enclose the floor. This will offer protection from the rain.
Provide A Roof Overhang
Providing an edge over the front of the birdhouse offers two advantages. Firstly, it protects the entrance from rain, and secondly, it prevents predators from accessing the entrance hole from above. Ambush avoided!
Provision For Cleaning
Just as you may build a hinged roof for a caged pet, you need to do the same for a birdhouse. It enables you to clean the inside periodically.
You need to provide at least for holes, 3/8” in diameter at the bottom of the birdhouse. It helps to drain off moisture caused by rain and condensation.
Unless you are making a duck box, make at least two holes of 5/8” diameter on the top of each side. It helps to vent the heat that can develop inside the birdhouse on warm days.
No, Perches, Please!
Perches attract sparrows, which compete with songbirds, and they sometimes even kill them, so you should never install perches on birdhouses.
Use Coatings With Caution
Do not use anything to coat the interior of a birdhouse. However, you can paint, stain or varnish the outside, but try to use coatings that contain natural ingredients.
Check out this article on picking out the best birdhouse paint colors.
Provide A Firm Foundation
Attach birdhouses to a fixed point like a tree or post. You can discourage predators by tacking metal shields to the post or tree onto which the birdhouse is fixed. You can use grease on the post and swing-suspend wren houses.
Height Of A Birdhouse
Most songbirds are comfortable at about four feet above ground level. You can go a bit higher, but keep it low enough for easy maintenance.
Spacing Of Birdhouses
Keep birdhouses spaced at least 20 feet apart to prevent territorial fights. However, you don’t need to be concerned with this issue if you are housing purple martins and wildfowl like ducks.
Now, you are aware of what you need to take care of while installing and maintaining birdhouses. We also discussed the different types of wood that you can use to make birdhouses. Building birdhouses is one of the most comfortable and most rewarding types of projects in woodworking.
If you are resourceful about it, you can make your birdhouse project into a lucrative business. After all, who would be able to resist buying the cute little birdhouses that you turn out?
We hope that you now have enough knowledge to take your birdhouse project to the next level!
Featured Image by Dustytoes