How to Build a Basic Birdhouse

Our Basic Birdhouse design is easy to build and will provide critical shelter for backyard birds. You can learn how to build a basic birdhouse, all you need is a few hours of time, some basic tools and a simple piece of lumber. Best of all, you’ll attract house wrens, titmice, nuthatches, chickadees or downy woodpeckers to your back yard. And with simple changes, you can modify this design to make a bluebird house.


| October/November 2007



Learn how to build a basic birdhouse. This homemade birdhouse can attract a variety of birds to your back yard, including house wrens.

Learn how to build a basic birdhouse. This homemade birdhouse can attract a variety of birds to your back yard, including house wrens.


Illustration by Michael Otteman

Learn how to build a basic birdhouse. This nest box is easy to build, and will provide critical shelter for birds you’ll love to watch.

The birdhouse my son and I built two years ago last fall is as plain and drab as brown burlap, the corners not quite square, the sloped roof a tad up-cupped from multiple seasons of Carolina weather. It’s not much more than a shanty compared to its heart- and flower-painted gift-shop counterparts. You’ll never see it featured in Fine Woodworking or Better Homes & Gardens.

But you will see it, or rather countless others like it, tacked to trees and fence posts all across this nation. It is the Basic Birdhouse, and though I can’t claim statistics to prove it, I’d bet my pocketknife it’s the most popular woodworking project in modern-day America. Little wonder. There’s a lot of beauty in that little nest box, when you think about it.

For starters, there’s the design’s simplicity. All you need to build this basic birdhouse are about an hour’s time, common hand tools, a few screws or nails, and lumber no fancier or more expensive than a standard 6-foot length of 1-by-6 shelf board, plus a scrap piece of 1-by-8 big enough for the roof. Use pine, cedar, spruce or whatever kind of wood you might have on hand — except of course wood treated with toxic preservatives.

Plus, there’s the little house’s versatility. Nail it to a tree or post 5 to 10 feet above the ground in or at the edge of open woods or shrubbery, and you’ll invite house wrens, titmice, nuthatches, chickadees and downy woodpeckers. And with simple changes, you can modify the design to make a bluebird house.

But the true beauty of this birdhouse is its collective power as protective breeding habitat for cavity-nesting birds. Natural homes are becoming fewer and farther between. Thank the chain saws, the housing developments, the road construction and the homeowners too quick to get rid of standing dead trees. At least some of that damage, though, is being offset. Thank the backyard nail-bangers who take the time to cobble together basic bird homes.

john & virginia ledoux
1/19/2012 12:38:58 AM

Like always no blue prints or photos. Waste of time again.


h vincent
1/16/2012 4:27:04 PM

My comment You will do better with drawings rather then text. You will use less wards.






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