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16 Ideas for Birdhouses, Feeders, and Nesting Box Plans and Designs

Anthony enjoys spending time in the workshop, kitchen, garden, and out fishing. Many of his DIY projects are featured in his yard.

DIY Birdhouse Ideas and Plans

DIY Birdhouse Ideas and Plans

These Birdhouses Are for the Birds!

Bluebirds, wrens, woodpeckers, owls, wood ducks, chickadees, and sparrows belong to a group of birds that are generally referred to as cavity nesters. These birds search out the protection of holes and crevices within the trunks of trees to build their nests and raise their young. Many of these birds will eagerly move into wooden birdhouses that are designed to meet their unique requirements. Birds can be fussy when searching for a nesting site, and they will only choose a nest box that meets their needs. Birds require an adequate nesting area, a large enough diameter of the entrance hole, and a safe placement of the birdhouse in the landscape.

Over time, I've written several short articles featuring an assortment of handcrafted birdhouses that I've built and scattered around my yard. At last count, there are over 30 birdhouses of different styles and made for different species of birds hanging in the gardens and woodlands around my property. Some of the designs are basic and utilitarian, while others boast a little style to add a bit of whimsey to the landscape. All of my birdhouses are built with the birds in mind. Many families of bluebirds, chickadees, titmice, owls, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, wrens, and other small birds raise their broods in my birdhouses year after year. During the winter months, birds that stay in the area often use the birdhouses and nesting shelves as roosts for protection against the wind and snow. Even families of flying squirrels have taken up residence in a few of the birdhouses.

16 Ideas for Birdhouses, Feeders, and Nesting Houses

  1. A Rustic Cottage Birdhouse
  2. License Plate Birdhouses
  3. A Simple Dovecote Bluebird House
  4. Rustic Platform Bird Feeder
  5. A Nesting Shelf Made from Salvaged Wood
  6. Lighthouse for the Birds!
  7. The Basic Bluebird Birdhouse
  8. Bluebird Feeder
  9. Screech Owl Nesting Box
  10. Build A Driftwood Birdhouse
  11. Wood Duck Nesting Box
  12. American Kestrel Nesting Box
  13. The Birdhouse Condo: A Trio of Birdhouses
  14. A Small Hanging Birdhouse
  15. A Birdhouse With A View
  16. Bat Houses

Each of my DIY birdhouse plans include a cutting list and diagram with step-by-step instructions on how to build the birdhouse. This page highlights some of my favorites that I've made so far, and I plan to keep adding more birdhouse projects. For step-by-step instructions and more photos on how I built each of these birdhouses, I've included a link to the birdhouse's featured page. Have fun, and build your birdhouses for the birds!

1. Build a Rustic Cottage Birdhouse

Add a little extra style to the basic nest box design with some paint, stain, and few re-purposed bits. A bit of creativity adds whimsy and interest, such as a rusty twist of barbed wire or an old horseshoe, creating a unique rustic cottage birdhouse.

These birdhouses are fully functional, and made to fit the bird's requirements. Only the exterior is stained and painted, leaving the natural wood on the interior of the nest box for the safety of the baby birds. Learning how to build a rustic bluebird birdhouse is not as difficult as it may appear at first. These birdhouses will look great in your yard.

2. License Plate Birdhouses

The little Country Cottage in this photo was built following the same basic steps as the Rustic birdhouses pictured above, though the dimensions are down-sized slightly to appeal to smaller chickadees and wrens.

A folded license plate can replace the wood roof, or it can be added as an accent. Other variations include wrapping the metal plate around the base, or cutting the plate to cover the front of the birdhouse.

License plates are cheap and easy to find at swap meets, flea markets, and yard sales. Each one is unique, making each license plate birdhouse a one-of-a-kind piece of yard art. If you take the time to learn how to build license plate birdhouses you will not be disappointed.

3. How to Build a Simple Dovecote Bluebird House

Simple to make, this hexagon birdhouse looks great in the garden and it is designed to attract bluebirds.

Traditional dovecote birdhouses are beautifully crafted, with multi-angled rooflines. If you are an intermediate weekend woodworker like me, you might find the compound angles a bit intimidating to conquer. My version of the dovecote eliminates the complex angles, yet the stepped-up roof design mimics the look of an expensive dovecote. Learning how to build a simple dovecote style bluebird birdhouse will attract many beautiful birds to your backyard.

Dovecote Style Bluebird House

Dovecote Style Bluebird House

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4. Rustic Platform Bird Feeder

The Country Store Bird Feeder resembles a rustic building from the Old West, and its design adds a bit of whimsy to a basic platform feeder without sacrificing functionality. The platform feeder features a fly-through design that allows birds to approach the feeder from every direction, and the covered bin protects the seed from the rain and snow. The porch roof helps to keep the seed dry on the feeding platform, and the feeder tray has drainage holes in the corners. The feeder is finished with a few simple trim pieces and colored stains to add character to the design.

The Country Store Feeder

The Country Store Feeder

The Country Store Feeder

The Country Store Feeder

5. A Nesting Shelf Made From Salvaged Wood

This attractive birdhouse - or more accurately, this nesting shelf - was made from pieces of salvaged wood. The ends and bottom pieces of the birdhouse were cut from a cedar corner board removed during a remodeling job, and I salvaged the milled side pieces from the railings of a cedar play set. A few slats from an old pallet provide the roof pieces and door trim, and the metal stars tacked to each of the ends are re-purposed Christmas ornaments.

Resembling an old barn or rustic farm stable, the aged wood has a nice weathered patina from years spent outdoors. The shelf nesting box designed to attract robins. In the winter, small birds will take refuge in the birdhouse from snow and chilling winds.

Building a birdhouse requires only basic woodworking skills and hand tools, and using salvaged wood keeps useable lumber out of the landfill. And because I salvaged all of the wood for this project, the cost of the lumber is $0.

Old Barn Birdhouse

Old Barn Birdhouse

6. Lighthouse for the Birds!

The turret and railing details at the top of the tower says "lighthouse" and though the design may look complex, the Lighthouse nesting box is easy to make. The construction process is broken down into three separate sub-assemblies: the main Lighthouse Tower nest box, the Turret assembly at the top, and the smaller Angled Shed nesting box. The three separate components are then assembled to form the lighthouse. Some trim and a little paint brings the lighthouse to life.

The tower is the primary nesting box, and it is designed to meet the requirements of many different cavity nesting birds such as bluebirds, wrens and chickadees. The smaller shed nesting box is suitable for wrens, though a family of bluebirds chose to nest in the shed rather than the larger tower. Learn how to build a lighthouse birdhouse and enjoy nature from the comfort of your home.

Lighthouse Birdhouse Plans

Lighthouse Birdhouse Plans

7. The Basic Bluebird Birdhouse

Bluebirds prefer open fields, but as farmland gives way to urban sprawl, and with competition from starlings and sparrows, bluebirds have an increasingly difficult time finding suitable natural tree cavities or abandoned woodpecker holes for raising their young.

Fortunately, bluebirds can be attracted to backyards where they will nest in birdhouses built to proper specifications.

These bluebird birdhouses are simple and inexpensive projects to build, and can be made from pine, cedar or redwood boards which are commonly available at home centers and lumber yards. Use these DIY Birdhouse Plans to make several bluebird nesting boxes and create a Bluebird Trail of birdhouses, or give a bluebird house to a friend.

In northern areas of their range, bluebirds begin to nest but the in early spring so it is important to place your bluebird houses by late winter. Enjoy the glory of bluebirds from your backyard and learn how to build a bluebird birdhouse.

Bluebird Birdhouse Plans

Bluebird Birdhouse Plans

Bluebird Birdhouse - Peterson Nesting Box

This version of the Peterson bluebird house is a bit more challenging to build than the basic nest box. Based on the nest box designed by Dick Peterson, the nest box shares the downward slanted front section to deter predators with an over-sized roof, which provides protection against the rain.

The original Peterson design features an oval entrance to the birdhouse and, if preferred, you can easily modify the design to incorporate an oval opening. Some bluebirders prefer the oval entrance, claiming that it encourages more bluebirds to take up residence. This birdhouse design with the round 1-1/2" diameter entrance hole has successfully fledged several broods of bluebirds, and I added the entrance guard for increased security. Whether you prefer a round or oval entrance, the size of the hole is important (1 1/2" for eastern bluebirds, 1 9/16" for the western bluebird).

The slant front bluebird birdhouse is a fun project to build, and adds a bit of variety to the bluebird trail that I've created in the garden and fields near my home. Make a few of each bluebird house, and give the bluebirds the chance to select their favorite nesting site. Learning how to build a Peterson Bluebird House is a fun process, and the end result looks great.

Peterson Style Bluebird House