Birds often go ignored by people and our designed environments, even though they are quite common in many climates. Most nesters like bluebirds and wrens prefer enclosed birdhouses that house single nests, but other species like purple martins are comfortable with structures that support multiple nests. Birdhouses can be primarily decorative objects, but they also have the opportunity to serve as a protective shelter and home for certain kinds of birds. Since birds aren’t picky about looks, the design is completely up to you! Still, it is important to remember that a birdhouse isn’t the same as a full-scale building, and a simple design can be just as effective as a very detailed one. If you build a birdhouse, the birds will come!
Activity 1 – Observe and Research
Birdhouses should cater to specific kinds of birds rather than attempting to accommodate all. Many birds like to live in spaces that look and feel closest to their natural nesting environments. Before designing a birdhouse, go outside to explore and observe. What birds live in your area? Use books and magazines in the library and online birding references. See NEXT.cc’s Bird Journey to find local species. Draw three to five feathered friends that live in your neighborhood and dimension them. The design of a birdhouse depends on the type of birds that it serves. The dimensions of the interior space and the entry size determine what birds can enter and what predators are locked out.
Build a bird house and birds will come!
Activity 2 – Look at Bird Houses
Look to other good birdhouses for reference and inspiration. This Pinterest link is a place to start! Observe their differences and find out which species they accommodate. While you research, pay attention to some details. The size of a birdhouse and its entry is a determining factor in its function. Check out BirdingHub.com for bird openings per bird types. It’s also important to see how the birdhouse opens for cleaning, and how it is ventilated to provide the birds with a healthy living environment. Add small holes for drainage and ventilation. Make some sketches of your bird and your ideas for their shelter!
Draw several bird houses.
Activity 3 – Start Designing!
Try making your own birdhouse! After researching the different types of birds in your area, pick one species that you would like to shelter. Find out what dimensions suit the bird best by searching online, and let those measurements guide your design. How large should the cavity be, and how large should the entry hole be? With these factors in mind, sketch out your ideas! Look back to the other birdhouses you liked for inspiration. You may want to add a pitched roof that extends an inch or two past the opening that protects the interior from the rain. Adding a few small drain holes to the bottom of your design will work wonders, allowing air to flow and water to drain. Finally, think about adding a way to open the birdhouse for cleaning and maintenance. Being able to open the roof allows it to be easily accessed while least affecting the nest inside. Sketch, study, and assess different iterations of possible birdhouses!
Activity 4 – Finalize Your Design
With an idea ready, it’s time to finalize your birdhouse design. Draw out an accurate plan that showcases the birdhouse’s dimensions and thickness of the material. Also draw elevations of each side, making sure that you accurately represent the size and proportions. Draw to scale, or even to full-scale if your design isn’t too large. As you draw your plans, think about how you will build the birdhouse. What materials will you use, and how will pieces join together? Use your drawings and construct your house and bring your design to life. Consider adding a bird bath and bird feeder in your yard, too!
- Extending the roof past the opening prevents birds from using the birdhouse
- Wrens and bluebirds prefer small enclosed birdhouses over large exposed spaces
- An entry hole should be large enough to accommodate a wide variety of bird sizes
- Adding small holes to the bottom of a birdhouse
- Birdhouses are one-size-fits-all.