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Making Wooden Birdhouses: Birdhouse Ideas, Plans and Designs

Updated on November 30, 2016
Wooden Birdhouse Design
Wooden Birdhouse Design

Invite Families Of Birds To Move Into Your Garden

Making wooden birdhouses is fun and satisfying hobby, combining interests in bird watching with woodworking. Many native birds are cavity nesters, favoring natural hollows in snags and abandoned woodpecker holes to make their nests. Many species of cavity nesting birds will readily move into a manmade wooden birdhouse - if the birdhouse is constructed properly and placed in the right locations. Birds are selective about where they make their nests, making it important to build a visually appealing birdhouse while meeting the instinctive needs of the birds.

Wooden birdhouses are standard fixtures in many gardens, and avid birders put out birdhouses and feeders with the hope of attracting their favorite feathered visitors into their backyard. Watching a pair of birds make their nest and raise a brood of babies is a very rewarding experience, especially when they raise their family in a birdhouse that you made yourself.

Each of the Featured Birdhouse designs in this article include diagrams and instructions to help you build wooden birdhouses for your garden and more importantly, for the birds that will use them to raise their families.

Photos and Diagrams by the Author

Bluebird Birdhouse
Bluebird Birdhouse

This House is for the Birds

When making or buying a birdhouse, decide on the type of birds that you want to attract to your nesting box. Bluebirds, chickadees, wrens, sparrows, woodpeckers, owls and kestrels will all move into a properly constructed birdhouse. Pay close attention to the size of the nest box floor, the size of the entrance hole and the placement of the entrance hole above the nest box floor.

Birdhouses can be decorative, functional or both. Most of the traditional nesting boxes available are typically made from simple designs that are proven to attract birds. Many of the decorative houses are not designed with birds in mind, but rather for their visual appeal. Designing and building your own wooden birdhouses allows you to create unique and elaborately detailed designs far beyond the ubiquitous nesting boxes found in every garden center and retail store.

For step-by-step plans on building this Bluebird House, please visit: How To Build A Peterson Bluebird House ~ Slant Front Style

Birdhouse Condo
Birdhouse Condo

Choose the Right Materials

When making wooden birdhouses, use only weather-resistant materials including screws, nails and waterproof glue. Birdhouses can be made from several types of wood, from the common and inexpensive #2 grade pine boards found at home centers, to cedar and redwood, to hardwoods such as oak, cherry and walnut, to more exotic woods including mahogany and teak.

Leave the exterior to weather naturally, or the paint the outside of the birdhouse using latex paints and water-soluble stains. Use a brush or aerosol spray can to paint the exterior, but do not paint or stain the interior of the birdhouse. Paints and stains can be ingested or cause respiratory problems in baby birds. And do not add perches below the entrance hole of the birdhouse. Cavity nesting birds don't need them, and can make it easier for predators such as raccoons to reach into the nesting box.

The surface of milled lumber is smooth and slick; scoring the interior surface of the front panel beneath the entrance hole makes it easier for the young bird to climb up and make their first forays into the outside world.

Nest Box Dimensions Are Important!

Cavity nesting birds have specific requirements for selecting a birdhouse for raising their families. The diameter of the entrance hole is critical, keeping out the larger species that compete for nesting sites and providing protection from predators looking for an easy meal. The floor size of the birdhouse is also important, with enough room for growing chicks but cosy enough for warmth and security.

Lighthouse Birdhouse
Lighthouse Birdhouse

Designing Birdhouses

Birdhouse designs can mimic different types of buildings from whimsical cottages to colonial mansions, from post offices to log cabins. Some birdhouses are designed to hang from hooks or branches, others mount to posts or trees, and some sit atop poles.

Typical birdhouses are single unit dwellings, though multi-tenant structures can be effective while adding visual interest and appeal.

Already have lots of birdhouses in your yard? Make a few as gifts for family and friends.

For step-by-step instructions for building this Lighthouse Birdhouse, please visit:

Make A Lighthouse Birdhouse: Decorative Birdhouse Design Plans


Hanging a Birdhouse

A Simple Cleat System Makes It Easy

Make a simple cleat system for hanging projects such as birdhouses and window boxes. The cleat is made by ripping a piece of stock at a 45 degree angle.

Start with a piece of wood at least four inches wide, and slightly shorter than the width of the feeder. Tilt the table saw blade to 45 degrees, then set the fence to 2 ½" from the blade to rip the stock into two mirror image pieces, each with a 45 degree bevel cut along one edge.

Attached one of the pieces to the back of the project with the 45 degree angle of the cleat pointing downward to form an inverted "V" between the back of the feeder and the outside surface of the cleat.

Attach the second piece where you want to hang the feeder, this time with the "V" of the cleat facing upward. Use weather resistant screws, and make sure the cleat is level.

When fitted together, the two 45 degree "V"s from each piece lock together to securely hold the feeder in place.

Add a filler strip along the bottom edge of the feeder, below the cleat on the backside, to hold the feeder upright and plumb. Cut the filler strip to the same thickness as the cleats.

How many birdhouses do you have in your yard?

How many birdhouses do you have in your yard?

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Barn Style Nesting Shelf

Barn Nesting Shelf
Barn Nesting Shelf

For step-by-step instructions on building this Rustic Barn Nesting Box, please visit: Making Rustic Birdhouses from Salvaged Wood

Robin Nesting Shelf
Robin Nesting Shelf

Build A Robin Nesting Shelf

Some types of birds including robins, swifts and flycatchers will not nest in a birdhouse, but you can entice them to set up residence on a nesting shelf.

This simple nesting shelf is easy to make, and a great birdhouse project for recycling salvaged lumber or for using small pieces of wood from the scrap bin. An old pine closet shelf contributed enough wood to make several nesting boxes like the one in the photo.

The Cutting List:

Back - 10"L x 7 1/2"W

Roof - 7"L x 7 1/2"W

Sides - 6 3/4"H x 5 1/2"W

Bottom - 5 1/2"L x 7 1/2"W

Tray Front - 7 1/2"L x 1 1/2"W

Cut the pieces to the sizes as outlined in the cutting list. The top edge of the side piece is cut on a 30 degree angle. Cut the back edge of the roof at the same 30 degree angle to fit flush against the back, creating a water-resistance roof to protect the nest from the rain.

Start to assemble the nest shelf by attaching the sides to the bottom with weather-resistant nails or screws. Attach the back to the sides, then add the roof and the tray front.

Position the nesting shelf up under the eves of a building.

Robin Nesting Shelf Plans


Small Hanging Birdhouse

Small Hanging Birdhouse
Small Hanging Birdhouse | Source
Window Nesting Box
Window Nesting Box

How to Build a Wooden Birdhouse with a View

This hanging wooden birdhouse is attractive, easy to make, and features a clear plastic back for peeking inside at the nest and baby birds. Hang the birdhouse in a protected area within view from a window and watch as the parent birds build their nest, incubate the eggs and feed the babies.

This simple wooden birdhouse requires only basic woodworking skills and tools, and takes only about an hour to build from readily available pine, cedar, redwood or just about any pieces from the scrap bin. A good project for using reclaimed wood to reduce cost and to keep salvaged wood out of the landfill, here is how to build this birdhouse with a view.

The Cutting List:

Front (A) - 5½" L x 5 ½" W

Back (B) - 5½" L x 5 ½" W (Plexiglas trimmed to fit)

Sides (C) - 5½" W x 6" L (Qty of 2 needed)

Side (D) - 4¾" W x 6" L

Sides (E) - 4" W x 6" L

Roof (F) - 7¼" W x 8" L

Roof (G) - 6 ½" W x 8" L

Entrance guard - 3" L x 3" W

(1 ½" diameter entrance hole)

Birdhouse with a view!
Birdhouse with a view!

Some Assembly Required

Each of the four side sections has a thin 1/8" wide by ¼" deep groove cut across one end to accept the clear Plexiglas panel. Using the table saw and miter gauge, position the fence with a spacer board to crosscut the groove. Raise the blade ¼" above the table and run each piece through.

The sides (C) are beveled along one edge at a 45 degree angle. Fastened together, the two beveled edges form the 90 degree corner at the bottom of the hanging wooden birdhouse. Attach the two side pieces together with weather resistant nails or screws, taking care to line up grooves.

Slide the Plexiglas panel into the two side pieces, trimming the panel as needed to fit snugly into the groove. Attach the two remaining sides as outlined in the diagram, taking care to position the side pieces to form a square. Nail or screws the side pieces together, enclosing the clear plastic panel.

Mark and drill a 1 ½" hole through the front section and the entrance guard. Position the front section in place, and attach to the sides with nails or screws. Attach the entrance guard on a bias to form a diamond shape, as shown in the photo.

Attach the two roof pieces. Hang the finished birdhouse using two galvanized eye bolts, screwed into the roof peak approximately 1 ¾" from each end. Use a short section of reclaimed and stripped copper electrical wire to hang the birdhouse from a tree or pole.

Birdhouse with a View Diagram


Nesting Boxes for Small Songbirds -- With A View!

The Four Essentials of a Wildlife Garden:

Food, Shelter, Water and Nesting Sites

The National Wildlife Federation Certification Program

The Official Certified Wildlife Habitat Program

For over 35 years, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has encouraged homeowners, schools, corporations and municipalities to incorporate the needs of the local wildlife into their landscape design.

So far, the NWF has recognized the efforts of nearly 140,000 individuals and organizations who plant native shrubs and plants for food, cover and places for raising their young, provide include a source of drinking water, and add nesting boxes for cavity nesting birds.

For more information on creating wildlife-friendly gardens and to certify your backyard as Wildlife Habitat, please visit The National Wildlife Federation Official Website

Ready For Occupancy

Some of my handcrafted birdhouses
Some of my handcrafted birdhouses
Driftwood Birdhouse
Driftwood Birdhouse | Source

Tell Us About Your Birdhouses

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    • tazzytamar profile image

      Anna 3 years ago from chichester

      Whatban awesome lens - I definitely need one of these and I would live to try building it from scratch.

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 4 years ago from Ireland

      I could do with a few of these. Your yard is quite a showcase, you must have loads of birds, I'm envious.

    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 4 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      You certainly have a lot of lenses about bird houses. I'm starting to get the idea that you like making them and like our feathered friends as well. :-)TonyB

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love all the examples of birdhouses you have here to invite many families of birds into your yard, your yard must be alive with song!

    • BusyMOM LM profile image

      BusyMOM LM 5 years ago

      Wow! What a great lens! You obviously put a lot of time in to it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      What a wonderfully detailed lens on building bird houses. I love everything here. The pictures, the instructions, and the commentary. Great resource for bird house design and building.

    • beckyf profile image

      beckyf 5 years ago

      I love birds, and this was a wonderful lens! I'd love to build a birdhouse, but I'm not very good with hammer and saw.

    • bhavesh lm profile image

      bhavesh lm 5 years ago

      Wow! What an amazing lens - and the related lenses. Your instructions are easy to follow - even I can do it. This inspires me to build my own birdhouse! Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      always have loved bird houses. I think I'll make my own since they are hard to find at stores. If you also like reading educational lens, mine not only has this but poll quesitons for my readers to do.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Very informative, yet beautifully designed lens on building birdhouses. It's amazing that there are many aspects that go into building a birdhouse...interesting read indeed...great job! :)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 5 years ago from United States

      I absolutely love birdhouses and you have featured several really beautiful ones. I do believe your birdhouse with a view would be easy enough for me to make. Although, I think I shall share the instructions with my husband and let him "do his thing!" lol Angel Blessed and featured on Squid Angel Mouse Tracks in Crafts

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Now featured on my Back Yard Nature Coloring Pages.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I just wasn't at all surprised that you are a certified member of the l Wildlife Habitat Program. Congratulations on another excellent resource.