Attract birds to your backyard with the right outdoor fixtures. Learn how you can build a bird feeder, bath and bird house quickly, easily and inexpensively.
Bird feeders, baths and houses can be built at home quickly, easily, and inexpensively with just a few basic materials. Here are some ideas to help you with your homemade bird fixture projects:
Bird feeders: Before you decide to build a bird feeder consider where you will be placing the feeder. It should be designed to attract birds in a manner that makes the birds visible to you while making the feeder visible to them. The feeder should also be placed where it is not easily accessible to unwanted creatures. Another factor is the weather. Bird feeders should be protected from rain, snow etc. because inclement weather molds bird seed.
Quick bird feeders can be made from the simplest materials. For example a feeder can be made from a one-pound coffee can. Punch holes in the bottom to provide drainage, nail the can to a heavy block to keep it from tipping over. Place the can on your windowsill and fill with seeds. Titmice, nuthatches, chickadees, blue jays and more daring birds will come to this type of feeder during the winter months.
A simple seed tray feeder can be quickly and easily made with a drill, a few boards and finishing nails. You will need a board for the tray itself. The size should be about 14 inches long, 7 inches wide and approximately 3/4 inch thick. Using a drill fitted with a 1/4 inch bit make a hole an inch deep at the midpoint of one long edge of the board. Fit a 1/4 inch dowel snugly into the hole. This dowel will be the landing perch for the birds. To make a border around the tray you will need two strips of wood 14 inches long, 1 inch wide and ½ inch thick and another two strips 6 inches long, 1 inch wide and ½ inch thick. On one side of the board, draw guide lines exactly 1/4 inch from the edge all the way around. Drive nails along these lines (four on each side, two on each end). Hammer the nails in until their points show in the bottom side. Then place the board on the four strips that will make up the sides of the tray. Hold each strip tightly in place until you drive the first nail. Fasten all four strips in place. Secure the tray to the top of a post (not less than five feet from ground level) with two long screws or two spikes. To provide protection from the weather, nail wire mesh and heavy plastic to one side of the feeder tray. Stretch across to the other side and nail in place.
You can also make suet logs for woodpeckers. Select a log (with bark still intact) approximately 4 feet long and 6 inches in diameter and bore rows of holes in it. Fill the holes with suet. Leave the log on the ground or place it about five feet off the ground holding it in place with two posts. The tops of the posts should be sawed to make a V shape to hold the log firmly in place. Other suet feeders can be made by hanging a coconut shell, mesh bag or berry basket filled with suet from tree branches.
Birdbaths: Birdbaths should have a gradual shallow decline with a rough surface. The rough surface makes it easier for the bird’s feet to grasp. It should contain no more than 3 inches of water. The birdbath should be placed in an open area three feet above ground level to ensure safety from predators. Change the bath water often to keep it clean from dirt and feathers.
Birdbaths can be made from the lid of a non metal garbage can, low china bowl or ceramic dish held down with a stone and placed on a tree stump. Any kind of dish (not less than 12 inches in diameter) with a gradual slope and a lip area for perching can be made into a bird bath. Place the dish on a pedestal made from a squared three foot log. A close-grained log like oak or hickory can also be hollowed out with a chisel to contain water for bathing birds. A large flat stone with a natural depression on top capable of holding water can also be made into an earthier looking birdbath.
Birdhouses: A nesting house for birds should be safe, cozy and protected from the weather. Birdhouses should not be flashy or too colorful as this is unattractive to birds and diminishes their sense of security. The birdhouse should be made of weather resistant material, properly ventilated and securely mounted. It should be able to withstand strong shaking and the entrance hole should be directed away for the path of winds. Never mount the entrance hole tilted upward as this will allow rain to fall in. Birdhouses should be placed out of the reach of predators while giving birds a clear view of their surroundings. Birds prefer varying kinds of houses depending on the species. Most birdhouses should be designed for a single nest. The only exception is the house for a Purple Martin since they prefer to nest in colonies.
You can make a birdhouse from a wooden box. If you cannot find a box make one yourself. Use wood that is durable and treated with a preservative. The box should be approximately 18 inches long, 12 inches wide and 8 to 10 inches deep. Nail thin boards across the open top of the box. This will be the front of the house. Drill an entrance hole approximately three inches in diameter in the front of the box. After this, bore three ventilation holes approximately 1/4 inch in diameter along the side of the box. Nail the bird house to a backing board larger than the house itself and then secure it to a square post 5 feet above the ground.
Some birds, for example Robins, prefer building their nests on a ledge or shelf instead of inside a house. To make a simple ledge, construct a platform 8 inches square. Nail a one inch square cleat around three edges and across the middle of an 8 inch backing board about a foot long. Then nail your platform against the backing board so that it rests on the middle cleat. Choose a protected place for the nesting shelf.
Bird feeders, baths and houses are sold almost anywhere but there is nothing quite as satisfying as knowing that you can make all these fixtures yourself. With a contented spirit you can watch all your favorite backyard birds enjoy your authentic workmanship and see your handiwork put to good use.