How to Build a Birdhouse

Brian Barth
finished birdhouse

A basic birdhouse is ones of the easiest, most gratifying wood craft projects. It's a great activity to share with children who will delight in seeing which birds take up residence in it. The following plan will provide suitable habitation for the vast majority of North American songbirds.

Bird House Building Plans

Gather your materials and read over the instructions and plans before you start building.

Materials

For this plan you will need:

  • Tape measure
  • 1-by-6-inch board at least 6 feet long
  • Carpenter's hand saw or electric circular saw
  • Carpenter's square to mark the wood on a perfect right angle for cutting
  • 1-1/8-inch spade bit for cutting the entrance hole
  • 1/2-inch drill bit for making ventilation and drainage holes
  • #8 1-3/4-inch exterior wood screws
  • 1/2-inch dowel
  • Wood glue
  • Two 1-1/2 inch galvanized hinges
  • 3/4-inch exterior wood screws for the hinges
  • Exterior paint

Instructions

Use the attached plan as a guide for the following steps; use Adobe Reader to open and download it.

Step One

Cut the 1-by-6 board into the following pieces:

  • 15 inches (back)
  • 7-1/2 inches (roof)
  • 4 inches (floor)
  • 9-1/4 inches (front)
  • 2 pieces that are 9-1/4 inches on one side and 11-1/4 inches on the other side (sides)

Step Two

Cut a 22.5 degree angle on one side of the roof piece and on one side of the front piece.

Step Three

Drill a 1-1/2-inch hole in the center of the front piece about one inch below the edge that was cut on an angle.

Step Four

Screw the two sides into opposite sides of the floor piece using two 1-1/2-inch screws. The taller and shorter ends of the side pieces should be aligned in a parallel fashion.

Step Five

Screw the front piece onto the two side pieces and floor piece using two 1-1/2-inch screws on each of the three edges. The angled edge of the front piece should be flush with the shorter sides of the two side pieces and the opposite edge should be flush with the floor.

Step Six

Screw the back piece in place so one end of it extends about an inch past the floor using three 1-1/2-inch screws.

Step Seven

Screw one side of each of the hinges onto the angled end of the top piece with three 3/4-inch screws for each one.

Step Eight

Hold the top piece in position against the front face of the back piece and screw the other side of each of the hinges into the back piece using three 3/4-inch screws for each one.

Step Nine

Turn the birdhouse upside down and a drill four 1/2-inch drain holes into the floor near each of the corners.

Step Ten

Drill three 1/2-inch ventilation holes near the top of each of the side pieces and into the back piece.

Step Eleven

Drill a 1/2-inch hole half way through the front piece about one inch below the entrance.

Step Twelve

Cut a 1/2-inch dowel to 4 inches in length.

Step Thirteen

Squeeze a few drops of wood glue into the hole below the entrance and push the dowel into the hole. Hold the dowel in place for at least 30 seconds for the glue to dry.

Step Fourteen

Paint the birdhouse in the desired color.

Customizing the Plans

bird leaving its house

There are innumerable ways to build a birdhouse, with some variations based on attracting particular species. Feel free to make your own customizations to the plan above, but keep in mind the following:

  • Avoid using plastic or metal to construct a birdhouse, as these materials heat up in the sun much more than wood.
  • Include ventilation holes on all four sides.
  • Put the entrance hole near the top.
  • Make sure the roof has a slant to shed the rain.
  • Include a few drain holes in the bottom just to make sure water can escape in the event that it makes its way inside.
  • Build in a way to access the inside of the birdhouse to clean it put periodically (i.e. with hinges).
  • Make sure the roof overhangs the entrance by at least two inches.
  • Provide a roost just outside of the entrance hole for the birds to land on.

A Perfect Home

Set up your birdhouse at least six feet off the ground in an area with a bit of vegetation around to provide cover from predators as the birds dart in and out. If you can find a place to position it that is ideal for the birds but also allows you to observe from a distance, all the better.

How to Build a Birdhouse