Coffee Can Bird House (with Video)

| 4/7/2020 10:57:00 AM

empty coffee can 

An empty coffee can ready for use.

You've just brewed a pot of coffee with the remnants of your can, and are now left with an empty reminder of the aromatic grounds that formerly filled it. As you go to open the new container, you wonder how to put the old one to use and upcycle it into something fun or useful. Consider using your old coffee can to make a bird house through a craft that is suitable for an individual, or even for the family to help with! Some of these materials, including the wood and screws, can be sourced from leftovers found around the home.

SAFETY: Please remember to take safety precautions when working on projects such as this, and youngsters especially should have an adult present, and have them use the tools for them! Also, take care when mounting the bird house if using a ladder.


  • 1 x Coffee Can (plastic or metal)
  • 1 x Scrap Piece of Wood (pallet is easy to source/use)
  • 4 x Screws (recommend two short ones, about 1 inch, then two a bit longer- see instructions)
  • 1 x Drill (with accompanying drill bit to drive the screws)
  • 1 x Hole Saw (drill attachment; we used a 1 or 1 1/4 inch)
  • 1 x Sandpaper (a small hand-sanding pad block works well here)
  • OPTIONAL: 1 x Twist Drill Bit, Acrylic Paints, Paint Brushes, Polyurethane (if painting), Hot Glue Gun

Gathering of Materials

Start by ensuring that your coffee can has been thoroughly washed with mild soapy water, then rinsed and dried. I recommend using a durable plastic can, or metal, for this project (some coffee cans are now made from a cardboard-like material and will fall apart easily). If you have scrap one inch thick lumber or rough cut wood, or maybe even a few pieces of pallet lying about, this is ideal for making the backing that you can use to fasten the can to a tree or post. Gather all needed tools for ease of access once you are ready to begin.

Now is the time to research the type of bird you hope to attract, and learn more about the size of the opening, location of the house, and height placement. For instance, we have many Carolina Wren in our area, and they have a wide variety of locations they inhabit (we've had them nest in a coffee can bird house at head level, or almost on the ground hidden behind the wheel of an ATV wagon/dump cart). The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a great website called NestWatch that allows you to see data about nest box height, entrance holes, and where to place them ideally for different birds in your area. NestWatch also is a place where members of the public can learn how to properly collect data on nesting sites without disrupting the bird and their eggs/young, and submit it to help them learn more about the nest successes/failures different birds species.

Fala Burnette
5/9/2020 10:05:55 AM

Peg, these are very valid points. We had not had predator problems in our old can bird houses made this way so it did not cross my mind. What suggestions do you have for securing the front/lid?

5/6/2020 8:49:46 AM

I would think this would be very easy for predators to get into - easily being able to rip the front of the can right off. No mention of baffles to help keep raccoons, snakes, outdoor cats, etc from being able to easily get to the house and rip it open to get to eggs/babies.

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