Bird feeders are a great way to encourage quick backyard visits by local and transient birds, but a properly sized, built and installed birdhouse will ensure more permanent avian residents.
Sure, you can buy birdhouses of all shapes and sizes online and have it shipped and installed within a week, but to do so would be to miss out on a great opportunity to flex those DIY muscles (however weak and unused they may be) and take on a fun, family-friendly project that even the stranger to the hammer can complete in a day.
Project Difficulty: Easy
Before you immediately discount the possibility of taking on the birdhouse building project, consider this: most birdhouse plans call for a single 5-foot length of 1x6 out of which you'll construct the entire birdhouse. The rest of the materials will include a saw (most will recommend a table saw but a hand saw works fine), a power drill, some screws and a handful of nails.
The more complicated plans may call for some hinges, dowels and waterproof wood glue, but this is not like building a dining room or bedroom set. Within as few as 6 or 7 steps you can have a ready-to-install birdhouse completed on your workbench.
Consider the following: building a birdhouse is easy (we've established this.) It's also of benefit to the whole family, since the installed birdhouse will breathe new life into the backyard. So why not involve the family in the process? Birdhouse building is a great way to introduce a son or daughter to the joys of woodworking the satisfaction that comes from building something from hand that others have to buy in a store.
Imagine your pride as parents when the neighbors come over and remark on the new, occupied birdhouse hanging from the tree just outside the kitchen window and you can respond," Yup, Junior made that."
Basic Birdhouses might not be bank-breakers, but they're still an unnecessary expense when compared the cost of building one. Providing the tools are on-hand (power drill, saw, etc.), the materials for one of the basic birdhouses found in our featured plans will probably run you somewhere between $10-20 at the local hardware store. Call it a recession-proof project.
One size does not fit all. When designing and building a birdhouse, consider the birds native to your location and also the specific species you are looking to attract to the new home. The types of birds you will most likely be attracting to your birdhouse are called "cavity nesters." These are birds that build their nests in tree cavities, which your birdhouse is replicating. Kestrels, woodpeckers and chickadees are just a few notable cavity nesters.
The Audubon Society has a handy Nest Box Dimension Chart that was originally used in Carrol L. Henderson's "Woodworking for Wildlife." This is a useful resource to help you determine the best dimensions of your birdhouse, as well as the size of the entrance hole.