If You Build It…

by Stefani on 16-February-2010

We’ve had so much luck with our bird feeders that we thought it was high time we had some houses in our trees too. Besides, there are some fellas in residence here that are always itching to use the tools, and really what more classic boy project is there than a birdhouse?

Our most frequent visitors are chickadees, so, after a good deal of searching, we decided that we’d try these simple little houses made from PVC pipe. I would have preferred wood, but we don’t have all the right tools for that, and these looked manageable for young craftsmen…. with some help that is.

We used a different kind of end cap for the top, so it’s harder to see in the photo, but it IS closed. We also put a little petroleum jelly around the part where the top fits into the pipe to help weatherproof it a little.

Chickadee House

Now, as we’ve just hung them, I can’t vouch for whether or not the birds dig ’em, but I can say this… they’re super easy and offer lots of opportunity for kid assistance.

Earlier today we noticed a little chickadee fella poking about the house. You can’t imagine the faces pressed against the window, and the hushed squeals, “Go in! Go in! It’s nice in there! Come on PLEEEEAAAASE?!?!?!”

Needless to say, our fingers are all firmly crossed.

Have you guys had any success with bird houses? We’d sure love to welcome some feathered residents, so any tips you have would be much appreciated!

Steph February 17, 2010 at 4:30 am

I can just picture their excitement watchin the chickadee sniffing around the birdhouse. It’s great.

Steph February 17, 2010 at 4:31 am

Forgot to add that perhaps drilling a couple of holes and sliding a little doweling rail through it as a perch or maybe putting some nesting materials in there might inspire bird visitors?

Stefani February 17, 2010 at 7:46 am

Hi steph!
We stuffed them very tightly with woodchips. The things we read suggested that for chickadees. Apparently they prefer “fixer uppers” when moving into a new home. They like a house that they can excavate 🙂
As for the perch, I totally agree. Both these and our new owl house lack perches and it so seems like one would make sense, especially for fledglings, but some of our readings said birds don’t need them and that they only make it easier for predators to get to the nest. I guess we’ll see. If you look closely at the photo though, you can see that we did rough up the outside of the house, near the hole. I hope that helps a little bit.

Valarie Budayr February 17, 2010 at 5:50 am

These look great! We have a large variety of birdhouses all over our yard. It’s so fun to watch the birds. The trick is having the right size hole for the right size bird and plenty of food. I know those chicadees will love their new house. Have fun!

Nancy February 17, 2010 at 7:45 am

Another fun thing, that might help the birds along, is to hang a bit of fluff / pillow stuffing (all natural) in little bundles from the tree for the birds to line their nests.

The other thing I’ve learned is that typically, the birds that like little houses with holes like these are wrens, and they prefer to catch live bugs. The birds that eat bird seed won’t live in a bird house, typcially. It’s almost as if nature is protecting them from being 100% dependent on people.

Happy birding–your boys did great!

Stefani February 17, 2010 at 7:53 am

Interesting! We’ve seen a few little Carolina wrens hanging out under our feeder (never on it!), and we hear them often, so I guess they might be interested in our house too. We’d sure take ’em!

Kobey February 17, 2010 at 11:22 am

I will second Valarie’s advice about the size of holes in the house. This may sound strange but those silly/cute bird houses that Michaels or Jo-Ann sell for inside fancy painting decorations actually work really well for small birds. (sign-up & get their email coupons -both accept competitors too) It should run a couple bucks (2 or 3) with coupon per house. You can use left over paint or if you are feeling fancy those paint color testers. My 5 year daughter was feeling quite fancy last year – purple and pink. The birds moved in within a week of installing it and raised 4 baby birds right outside our window.

I don’t recommend those ceramic bird houses for TX – too hot.

Stefani February 18, 2010 at 8:43 am

Oh my!!!! I think I’d better start researching. Just how many birdhouses our yard cam support, because one they hear this bit of information they are going to want to buy out the craft store! Thank you!

Sonja February 17, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Hi! I’ve never commented anywhere before, but I have 3 boys too, and we had an easy and wonderful experience with chickadees last summer so I had to write. We live in Ottawa in the suburbs and the birds have been reluctant to settle in. Food and water and shelter are the recommended recipe, and last spring lots of little guys, including chickadees, finally came around. We had 2 small houses on our fence, and one was quickly occupied. I too have read that having a perch outside the house make’s it easier for predators to get in so I’m going to take them off this spring. The chickadee parents never used it anyway- they perched on the fence to make sure the coast was clear, then zoomed in.
We had 8 eggs that all hatched, and they chirped almost constantly. We sat outside and listened and watched ALL the time. Young green tent caterpillars were their preferred food, and the busy parents fed the babies non-stop. Once the house was empty we scooped out the nest to discover it was made from cedar mulch, moss, and dog hair- lots of it.
If you’re interested in seeing photos I would be happy to send some along. I’ve just been checking them out and they really are sweet.
Good luck to you and your boys and the birds!

Stefani February 18, 2010 at 8:48 am

Oh we would love to see that!!! You cam send ’em to blueyondergirl AT mac DOT com.
And eight!!! Wow!

I’m so glad you posted your story and I hope we’ll get the chance to say hello more often!

Mama Urchin February 18, 2010 at 10:01 am

We have tons of nests but no houses in our yard. We definitely have a cardinal pair that nests in our yard. In fact I let the bird feeder run out of seed in the Spring and they took up residence there and had two eggs and one baby. They, or possibly another pair, later built a nest in our climbing hydrangea and had more babies although I can’t remember exactly how many.

I think allowing your yard to mimic the natural habitat helps. What I mean is we let things go to seed, we don’t pull all our weeds, and we definitely have one garden that can get a bit scrubby looking. Our neighbors might not like it but the birds seem to.

Theresa February 22, 2010 at 5:26 am

Hello, Cool story. Come on over, we are having a giveaway you might like. A music CD made by my home schooled daughter.

Greta February 25, 2010 at 3:46 am

I loved this post! We want to build bird houses too. We were just visiting our nature center and that had lots of bluebird houses. We learned that the holes have to be just the right size so that crows and blue jays don’t poke their heads in and eat the babies. Well my boys now think it is their personal mission to keep baby blue birds safe from the mean birds. I’ll let you know if we have any luck with it!

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