by: Erin Schoenfuss

How to Build Your Own Birdhouse

The best way to attract Tree Swallows is to build a bird house.  As previously mentioned in Nesting, Tree Swallows will not build their own cavities.  They rely on existing cavities.  Building a bird house is a perfect way to attract these birds. 
There is just one main thing to remember when building your very own bird house.  Less is More!  The simplest, plainest design painted or stained in more natural colors will be more attractive to birds than those with bright colors and a bunch of knick knacks attached.  Putting a perch on the bird house is unnecessary because Tree Swallows will not use it.  Also, the perch will just help squirrels and cats raid the nest.  Refer to Interactions for more about their predators. 
Using a basic birdhouse design, with the help of someone that knows how to use power tools, you should have 6 pieces: 1 back, 2 sides, 1 bottom, 1 front, and 1 top.  These all can be cut using the same board.  Below are the dimensions.  (Dimensions will vary based on width of the wood being used).  These are the dimensions I use when building a bird house.

Good ventilation is essential to prevent heat buildup.  Drilling three holes on the top of the side pieces should be sufficient. Drainage holes are also needed in case water gets into the box during a storm.  These will be drilled into the bottom piece of the bird house as indicated on the diagram above.   
 When building the bird house, the roof should run the water away during a rain storm.  So, the top should slope down and overlap the front by about 1 inches. So make sure there is a nice, smooth slope.  As indicated by the diagram to the right, the blue section is what you would sand or cut off of the top and front piece. 
The sides of the cut pieces should be well sanded so no loose wood pieces injure a future inhabitant. 

 Once all sanded, the pieces are ready to be put together.  14 nails, eight small screws, and two small hinges should be sufficient.  The visual steps are to the side.
            Step (1). Using a flat surface, align the back piece so it is snug to the bottom piece.  The back should be touching the flat surface.  Hammer two nails into the bottom of the back piece so the bottom and back pieces are together.
            Step (2). Place both side pieces onto the bottom piece making sure the sides slope downward towards the front.  Push the side pieces against the back piece. Hammer four nails into the back piece, two above the bottom two nails, and two about 6 inches above those nails. Now the two side pieces should be connected to the back piece.
            Step (3). Lay the connected pieces on the side and hammer four nails into the bottom connecting it to the two sides.
            Step (4). Set the connected pieces back up and place the front piece snuggly against the bottom and the two sides.  The front   piece should be sitting onto the flat surface.  Hammer two nails onto the bottom of the front piece at each corner connecting the front and bottom together. Then, hammer two nails toward the top corners of the front piece connecting the front piece with the side pieces.
            Step (5). Finally, place the top piece against the back piece and lay it on the top    of the side pieces and the front pieces. Screw on two hinges connecting the back piece and the top piece. Now your bird house is complete. 




This is what the ending result should look like.  I placed the dimensions onto the picture for you. 
The best places to put your new birdhouse, or birdhouses, are in open, rural areas near water.  Refer to Habitat. Also, it is best to keep them about 100 feet apart from other bird houses and away from predatory danger.  Keep the birdhouse away from roads or highly wooded areas.
Hopefully before no time you will have your own Tree Swallows nesting in your birdhouses.  Then, once you make more birdhouses you could be seeing incredibly large groups of Tree Swallows all fighting for your birdhouses.  
To test what you have learned about Tree Swallows click Test Your Knowledge.  Click here to return return to the Tree Swallow:Tachycineta bicolor Homepage.

Erin Schoenfuss is not responsible for bruises, cuts, scrapes, or any lost appendages while making this product.