Attract birds to your yard with home-made environmentally friendly gourd bird houses. You can make several in an afternoon and have fun doing it. You can keep it simple or you can tap into your playful side.
Getting the gourd
Ask around at local farms and farmer’s markets. There is a good chance that you will find some already dried. If so, you can start making your birdhouse right away.
If you plan ahead, you can grow your own gourds. How cool would that be?!
Drying the gourd
The easiest way to dry your gourds is to spread them out in a box and place them in the garage for the winter. They are going to mold on the outside a bit no matter what you do: no worries. Check on your gourds: if a gourd is rotting (i.e. the shell is getting soft), you should discard it so it won’t spoil the others.
Cleaning your gourd
Some people soak their gourds in a bleach solution to remove the mold. I don’t like to use bleach more than necessary and I find it isn’t necessary here. Either way you will need to scrub and wash and even scrap your gourd clean. It takes a bit of elbow grease. Don’t you like the patterns left on its skin?
Drilling the holes
Use a drill bit for the size you want your birdhouse hole to be. You can find suggested birdhouse hole size for specific birds online. I used a two inch (diameter) hole for the birdhouse seen here.
I also drilled small drainage holes in the bottom of the gourd just in case rain should get inside.
Finished birdhouse has linseed oil applied.
Finishing the birdhouse(s)
Find salvaged paint (your own or someone else’s leftover paint). I found a small container of exterior paint at the Restore and used that to paint one of my birdhouses. I also used the two hole pieces, from the door openings which I painted white, for the eyes of this amusing birdhouse. I used Gorilla glue to attach them.
For my other gourd, I applied linseed oil. Linseed oil is a natural oil used as a wood preservative and is made from flax seeds. Use a rag to rub on a thin layer of oil. If using multiple coats, allow to dry between applications. The linseed oil will give the gourd a polished look and will help repel the rain. Linseed oil doesn’t preserve your birdhouse for as long as other products but you can compost the old and make a new.
Hanging the gourd birdhouse
Use a piece of scrap rope/ string or even an old shoe lace to hang your finished birdhouse. If you want to be fancier, you can bend an old coat hanger into a hook. First drill two holes to slide the wire through.
This purchased birdhouse has an orange stain on it. Stain is nice because it gives the birdhouse a color but the natural look of the birdhouse shows through. The diameter hole for this birdhouse is 2 inches. I placed this orange gourd birdhouse outside my front door where it is sheltered by our house roof. It is hanging on the wall of our house. Despite the fact that wren birdhouse hole sizes are recommended to be much smaller, a pair of wrens moved into our gourd birdhouse and successfully raised six chicks last summer (2009).
I hope they will be back, I do love wrens. On a side note, I’ve seen wrens go in/ out of our gourd birdhouse in the winter. I assumed that it or they were seeking shelter from the cold. This is one of the baby birds that left the nest that day. So cute!
This is a snapshot of the mother or father wren that worked tirelessly feeding all those babies!