How To: Build a Birdhouse
Birdhouses, just like human houses, come in an endless number of styles today. You can buy a birdhouse replica of Graceland or a model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. Birds mostly want a home that’s cozy, safe and low maintenance.
This simple birdhouse provides all of that for the birds as well as a clean, modern design for you. This simple shed roof design accommodates chickadees, house wrens, nuthatches and other small birds. A tip: Different species of birds like different sizes of houses and entry holes. If you’re trying to attract a specific bird species, do a little homework. One great reference book is called “Woodworking for Wildlife” by Carrol Henderson.
Here’s how to build a simple shed roof birdhouse. All you need are a short length of 4-inch PVC pipe and a 2-foot-long, 1-inch-by-6-inch cedar board, both available at home centers.
1. Cut a piece of 4-inch PVC pipe to about 12 to 14 inches long, measured to the longest point of the roof slope. We cut an angle of about 30 degrees, but any angle from 10 to 40 degrees will work. Make the cut using a handsaw, hand miter saw or power miter saw.
2. Drill the entrance hole using a drill and 1.25-inch hole saw. Position the bottom of the hole 7 to 8 inches above the bottom of the pipe.
3. Measure the inside diameter of your pipe. Then use a jigsaw, which is a power tool that cuts curved shapes, to cut two wooden discs of that size; they’ll be about 4 inches across. Insert the bottom disc, recessing it 0.5 inch, then drill three holes and secure it to the pipe with 1-inch screws. (Position these screws at 12, 3 and 9 o’clock so you can remove them toclean out the birdhouse once it’s mounted.)
Drill three 0.25-inch holes in the bottom for ventilation and drainage. Insert the upper disc, keeping it as close to the top of the pipe as you can without hitting the slope of your roof.
4. Cut your wooden roof to the desired length and shape. Position the back of the roof so it’s even with the back of the pipe (for mounting purposes). Secure the roof to the sloped end by driving three screws through the roof into the top mounting disc, making sure the screws don’t poke through the bottom of the disc.
To mount the house, drill two holes in the back side — one in the 0.5-inch bottom recess, the other in line with the entrance hole — then secure it to a tree or post, 5 to 15 feet off the ground, using 3-inch screws. Install the upper screw by inserting a screwdriver through the entrance hole.
Spike Carlsen is a carpenter, woodworker and author. His most recent book is “The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects“ (Storey).