Birdhouse Plans: How to Build a Birdhouse Properly

Habitat loss can be the greatest threat to bird species today. One of the unforeseen consequences of urbanization is the disappearance of habitats.

As cities have risen and expanded, the number of trees has become less and less.

And since birds build their nests in trees, especially in the hollows and cavities, this means that certain bird species have begun to disappear.

But as with most things in our beautiful and diverse world, people have found innovative ways to give back to nature what we took when we cut down trees to build ever-greater cities.

I am talking of birdhouses.

Birdhouses are like artificial nests where the birds can come in and make their homes.

In this post, I have outlined here two bird house plans you can use to make excellent birdhouses.

Birdhouse Plan One:

birdhouse plans

Things You Will Need:

  • 2 pieces of approximately 1 x 6 inches lumber: cut one to 5-1/2 inches in length and the second to 6-1/4 inches in length
  • Two roof panels which you cut from 1 x 6 boards: cut one to a length of 9 inches and the other to a length of 8-1/2 inches
  • A piece of plywood
  • Hammer and nails
  • Handsaw to cut wood with
  • Wood glue
  • Screw gun and screws
  • 4 L brackets
  • A 1-3/8-Inch hole saw
  • Dowel Rod
  • Sandpaper


Step One: Connecting the Two Bottom Pieces

Take the two pieces of 1 x 6 wood – remember one has a length of 6-1/4 and the other 5-1/2. Fit them together, with the top ends being of a nearly equal height. Use your wood glue to connect them firmly. Give them some time to dry.

After the glue has dried, you either nail the two together or drill screws into them to ensure they are firmly secure.

Step Two: Attaching the Back Panel

Cut a 7 square inches piece of plywood to serve as your birdhouse’s back panel. Apply glue to the back edge of the two connected bottom pieces, and then firmly press the square-shaped back panel into place. Give the glue some time to dry.

After it has dried, add four screws (equally spaced) – the screws should enter through the back panel, and drill into the edge of the bottom pieces. It’s best if you pre-drill the holes into which you will insert the screws.

Step Three: Attaching the Roof Panels

Cut two roof panels from your 1 x 6 boards. One panel should be 9 inches in length and the other 8-1/4 inches in length. Next, fit the two panels together. They should overlap, sitting flush with the back panel and the sides of your birdhouse.

Apply glue to roof panels to make them sit securely upon the birdhouse structure. After the glue dries, screw them into place – four equally spaced screws will do the trick.

Step Four: Adding Support Braces

Install the 4 L-brackets at the centers of the box’s four corners. The L-brackets are for connecting the sides and the roof panels of your birdhouse.

Don’t use long screws to install the braces – the screws should only penetrate the wood as far as the mid-point.

Step Five: Cutting the Front Panel

Use the 1-3/8-inch hole saw to drill a hole into the front piece. The top of the should be 2-1/2 inches below the top point of the bird house – the top point being where the two roof panels make an intersection. This hole will provide the bird’s entrance into the birdhouse.

Step Six: Adding the Perch Hole

Ensure you dowel rod is – or approximates – ¼ inches. When you cut the dowel rod to size, it will provide your birdhouse’s perch. The dowel rod should have a length of at least 3 inches.

Measure the diameter of the dowel rod, and drill a hole of the same diameter approximately ½ inches below the entrance hole.

Step Seven: Attaching the Front Panel

Now that you have a complete front panel, apply glue to the edges of the side pieces and the roof panels, and fit your front piece nicely in place. Use eight screws to attach the front panel (two screws for the roof panel and each side of the birdhouse).

Step Eight: Sanding the Edges and the Holes

Smoothen the edges and holes of your birdhouse using sandpaper.

Step Nine: The Hanging Points

At the top of your birdhouse, where the two roof panels intersect, screw two eye bolts.

Pre-drill the holes before adding the eye bolts.

You can link the eye bolts so that your birdhouse hangs suspended on two chains.

Step Ten: Inserting the Perch

After cutting the dowel down to a length of at least 3 inches, apply glue, and insert the dowel rod into the perch hole you drilled earlier. Give it some time to dry.

Step Eleven: Painting

Now for the finishing touches. It’s up to you to paint the birdhouse in the appropriate colors.

If you want to attract wild birds into your birdhouse, use muted colors such as brown and green.

Finally, hang the birdhouse, using the eye bolts to suspend it upon chains.

Birdhouse Plan Two:

birdhouse plan 2

Things You Will Need:

  • 1 inch x 8 inches x 8 feet wood. For best results, use cedar or redwood because of their natural weather resistance and durability – pine is also okay, but it is not as durable as the others
  • 1-1/4-inch galvanized finishing lines
  • 1/4-inch diameter dowel
  • Wood glue
  • Paint or stain
  • Paint brush
  • Tape measure
  • Speed square or framing square – the best choice would be a miter saw
  • Clamps
  • Drill that has 3/32-inch, ¼-inch, and 1-1/2-inch spades, Forstner, or hole saw bits


Step One: Cutting the Front and Back Pieces

Cut two pieces of wood, each 9 x 7-1/4 inches. The two pieces will form the front and back of your birdhouse.

After cutting the two pieces, draw a vertical mark along the center of each downwards. Use your miter saw to make 45-degree cuts along the top starting at the centerline and moving towards the outside edges.

But if you don’t have a miter saw and are using another type of saw, start by marking the 55-degree angles using your square, and make the cuts afterward.

Ensure the marks you make are on the interior side of the wood – you don’t want them to be visible after you have finished building your birdhouse. Even after you apply paint or stain, you still won’t cover the pencil marks.

After measuring, mark 1-1/2 inches from each edge along the bottom of the two pieces. Extending from each mark, make cuts towards where you made the 45-degree cuts at the top. You now have the shape of the front and back pieces of your birdhouse.

Step Two: Cutting the Side, Roof, and Bottom Pieces

Take the remaining pieces and cut them: you need two side pieces, two roof pieces, and one bottom piece. The sides should be slightly shy of the roof of the birdhouse, enabling air to come in and circulate freely.

For both side pieces, cut the wood into dimensions of 5-1/2 x 5-1/2 inches. The roof pieces, however, will have slightly different dimensions – the idea is to have the longer piece overlapping the shorter piece, enabling the two pieces to overhang the birdhouse at the same distance.

For the longer roof panel, cut the wood into dimensions of 6 x 7-1/4 inches. For the shorter piece, cut the wood into dimensions of 5-1/5 x 7-1/4 inches.

The last one to cut is the bottom piece. It should have dimensions of 5-1/2 x 2-1/2 inches. When you have cut the bottom piece, user your miter saw to make a cut on each corner at ¼ inches from each end.

This gap at the corner will provide room for the water to run out whenever you clean the interior of the birdhouse.

Due to the small size of the pieces, it’s prudent to clamp them to a larger board as you make your cuts – this will protect your hand from the blade.

Step Three: Drilling the Entrance of the Birdhouse

The next thing you should do is drill the entrance of your birdhouse. Take the front piece. Make a mark starting from the peak of the front piece going down 4 inches to the vertical centerline you made in step one.

It is at this point that you will drill a 1-1/2-inch hole through which birds will come into the birdhouse.

When you drill the wood, it’s prudent to place a scrap board under it to ensure it doesn’t splinter when the drill bit penetrates until it breaks through the other side. You should also clap the pieces to the surface you are working on before you start drilling.

Step Four: Assembling the Box

The next thing is to assemble the box. To connect the side pieces, apply glue to their outside edges. But take care you don’t apply excessive glue – otherwise, it will squeeze out from between the joints when you press the pieces together. Keeping the outside edges flush, fit the side pieces between the back and front pieces.

After doing this, you should use your drill to make 3/32-inch pilot holes at each joint. Drive in your finish nails into these pilot holes.

The next thing is to attach first the bottom and then the roof. For the bottom, repeat what you have just done for the side pieces – that is, apply glue to attach the bottom, drill pilot holes, and drive in the finish nails to complete the job.

Before you attach the roof, you must first assemble it. The longer piece should be placed over the smaller one - don’t attach the roof to the box just yet.

Attach the two roof pieces in the usual fashion: gluing, drilling pilot holes, and driving in the finish lines.

While the glue holds the joints together, it is that nails that hold them in place until the drying of the glue.

Use your drill to make a ¼-inch hole approximately 1 inch below the entrance hole. Apply glue to the end of a 3-inch piece of dowel and fit it into the hole you have made.

Step Five: Painting or Staining

Now to make your birdhouse pretty! Use a water-based exterior paint or stain, applying to the outer surfaces of your birdhouse. Don’t paint the top edges of the back and front pieces – this is where you apply the glue.

Step Six: Finishing

After the paint has dried, it’s time to attach the roof you had made and set aside. In the same way as you have done the other parts, use glue and nails to connect the roof with the rest of your birdhouse structure (this is why step five cautions you not to paint the edges of the back and front pieces).

Your birdhouse is now complete!

Why Build a Birdhouse?

Due to habitat loss, many bird species have left their former nesting areas. But if you build a good birdhouse, you might succeed in bringing the wild birds back to your area.

When winter comes, birds seek shelter in hollow trees and birdhouses. But they don’t look for shelter in winter – they begin scouting for new nest sites much earlier. So you should make your birdhouse early.

In the natural world, birds find their habitats in the cavities or holes within trees. A birdhouse is an artificial type of this. 

As you make your birdhouse, it’s prudent to consider what birds like rather than what humans admire. For instance, when you paint your birdhouse in shouting or super bright colors, it’s unlikely to attract any birds to it. You can use spotting scopes for watching birds.

Birds such as wrens, woodpeckers, titmice, western bluebirds, tree swallows, nuthatches prefer plain, unfinished wood boxes – so long as they have the appropriate dimensions and are in the right location.

Final Verdict

If you want to provide safe habitat for a bird (or birds) in winter, choose one of the two outlined plans and construct a simple, practical birdhouse.

By building a birdhouse, you are doing something, however small it may be, to protect bird species from possible extinction.

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