DIY

Country Lore: a Simple Purple Martin House

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ILLUSTRATION: RODNEY A. OKYNE
All three stages of purple martin house construction.

A recent issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS had a lovely article on building a purple martin house. Much time, labor, and money were involved for a very
professional-looking finished product.

Now here’s a very
acceptable, much cheaper, and adorable substitute. It
requires three pieces of scrap plywood at least
3/8″ thick but not more than 3/4″ inch thick, a nice
straight strong twig or dowel about a 1/2″ inch in
diameter, a tall white plastic kitchen garbage bag, a
couple of small hinges, bits of leftover exterior paint,
and ten tall juice cans with both ends cut off.

Be sure the
can edges are smooth and stack them on their sides in a
pyramid (see figure 1). Tape them together. Cut a front and
back for your house to fit over the ends of the cans, plus
a bit more, from your exterior plywood. These should be cut
as triangles with gently rounded corners, or, if you
prefer, cut the front in the shape of a house with a
chimney. Cut a base of plywood an inch or two bigger than
the bottom of your pyramid.

Take your front piece of plywood and cut entry holes for
each can. Drill 1/4″ holes between each can-front and
back-for ventilation. Nail or screw the front securely onto
the base, back an inch or two from the edge (see figure 2).
Attach the back to the base with the hinges so you can drop
it down to clean it out (see figure 3). Be sure to cut your
front and back an inch or two taller than your pyramid of
cans so you can run your twig or dowel front to back to
serve as both a landing rod for the birds and to hold the
house together at the top. To do this, drill a hole big
enough to poke the twig through at the top of the back.
Glue or screw the twig securely to the top of the front.
Drill a hole through the twig near the back end, so you can
peg it securely. (You can hang the peg on the back of your
birdhouse so it doesn’t get lost.)

Wrap your cans securely
as one unit with the plastic garbage bag and place it on
the base, wedged between the front and back. Mount where
and how you please. Paint to suit your fancy. Cheap, easy,
fun-and the birds seem to like it!

Now, can someone help
me? I want to know how to make the old-fashioned, homemade
baby chicken waterers with the glass jar. Sure would
appreciate it.

Maida Rodgers
Farmington, AR