Looking for a fun farming project to tackle with your kids? With spring underway, consider building and installing birdhouses across your property.
We can’t fix all the world’s problems, but providing safe homes for nesting birds is a simple task we can all enjoy.
Building birdhouses isn’t a difficult task. Anyone with some scrap lumber (though not treated lumber, mind you) and some basic woodworking skills can assemble half a dozen in short order.
Bluebird houses are among the most popular. Instructions for building them are widely available. And if you want to increase their aesthetic appeal, you can check out our step-by-step instructions for building stone-covered birdhouses.
Since building birdhouses is pretty straightforward, it’s a perfect project to tackle with your kids.
If your children are old enough, they can participate in some of the easier construction steps. Perhaps this is an opportunity to teach them how to use an electric drill.
Younger kids can still participate by choosing which bird species you’ll attempt to attract (help them along with books or online resources), which will determine the types and sizes of the birdhouses you’ll build.
For general tips and advice, check out our guide to building nest boxes.
Once the birdhouses are finished, make an expedition out of installing them around your farm. Let your kids help pick the spots, though following a few basic guidelines will increase your chances of success.
Generally speaking, birdhouses should be installed five feet or more off the ground while facing away from the prevailing winds. In most parts of North America, the prevailing winds blow in from the southwest (with an emphasis on west), so position your birdhouses facing east or northeast if possible.
Fence posts can make the perfect location for birdhouses. I once installed seven bluebird houses on fence posts surrounding a field (since bluebirds love open land), with 100 feet between each birdhouse to give each one plenty of territory.
The project proved to be a rousing success, and the birdhouses see heavy use each year. Bluebirds eat insects as their primary source of food, so there are benefits to having lots of bluebirds around. They can help minimize the population of insect pests, a benefit for orchards and gardens.
Once you’ve chosen the best locations for your birdhouses, help your kids install each one. Shoot some photos to commemorate the occasion, then start the waiting process!
Take a quiet walk every few days to scout the birdhouses and watch for activity, though be sure to survey from a distance. You don’t want to scare birds away!
With a bit of luck, nesting pairs will take up residence, and before long you’ll hear the chirps of baby birds clamoring for meals. You’ll be able to watch the parents bring back food, and—eventually—you’ll see the baby birds emerge to test their wings.
Best of all, you and your kids will have played a part.
These are memories that can last a lifetime, so what are you waiting for? There’s no better time than today to start building birdhouses.