Summer is in full flight. The sun is shining (for a change!) and a chorus of fresh songs fills the warm air on a daily basis. Our gardens and parks are teeming with new life taking their first steps out into the big wide world.
Yet no matter how exciting it gets for young birds, all that flying around and exploring is tiring work. Our feathered friends need cosy and secure roosts to come home to at the end of the day.
If you’d like to lend a hand (or wing) to our amateur aviators, summer is a fantastic time to get crafty. Our fun little project will put a smile on any beak, keep the kids occupied and take care of some recycling all in one go! And the best bit is that you probably already have most of the materials at home.
Things you’ll need
– An empty milk carton or bottle
– Scissors or a small craft knife
– A pen or pencil
– Some string, twine, ribbon or wire
– Masking tape
– Outdoor/weather-proof paint
– A weather-proof finish (like a varnish or eco-friendly wax)
– Lolly sticks
– Twigs, leaves, bark, straw, woodchips (for decorating and furnishing)
– Non-toxic glue (no super glue!)
The first thing you need to do is make sure the milk carton or bottle is completely clean. No one wants to sleep in off milk! Fill with warm, soapy water, give it a shake and rinse it out thoroughly. Do this the night before so it has plenty of time to dry.
Next, take your pen or pencil and sketch out a front door about halfway up the side of the carton or bottle. Be sure it’s not too low or baby birds could fall out! You’ll want to have a look at the types of birds you see in your garden and estimate the appropriate size – the RSPCA has a really handy guide to help with this.
A typical size entrance is between 25mm and 45mm, but just makes sure you don’t make it too big, as your tenants need to feel safe! Then, carefully cut out the door with your scissors or craft knife. Apply a generous layer of masking tape around the hole to smoothen the edges.
Using your pen or pencil, poke through the bottom of the carton in four or five different spots to create some drainage holes. This allows water out and provides ventilation, keeping the inside fresh and pest free.
Now you’ll need a way to hang your fledgling nest. Again, using your pen or pencil, poke two holes near the top of the carton or bottle. Thread your string, twine, ribbon or wire through and create a loop by knotting the ends together. This will allow the birdhouse to hang upright, so make sure you use a strong material.
Now for the fun part; decorating! This step is entirely optional of course, but who wants to live in a bland, boring house? Make little effort for your new feathery companion.
Apply an outdoor paint in the colour of your choice. Bear in mind that birds prefer the natural, neutral colours of trees and plants. Think about the colours you see in your garden and try to match them for the best results.
Leave plenty of time for the paint to dry in an open space. Once completely dried, apply a coat of weather-proof finish, like a varnish or wax, and again leave to dry. It’s important to protect your birdhouse from the elements, but be sure to air it out thoroughly before use.
You can head out into your garden and collect twigs and leaves for the next part whilst you wait for your birdhouse to finish drying. When it’s done, use a non-toxic glue to decorate your birdhouse with lolly sticks, twigs and leaves or both!
Arrange the lolly sticks along the top of the birdhouse to create a roof effect or go for a rustic, natural look with whatever you manage to rustle up from the garden. Birds will love this since not only will you be making their home for them but you’ll be using the materials they’d use themselves! They’ll certainly appreciate the effort.
Finally, add some twigs and leaves to furnish the inside of your birdhouse and there you have it! A safe, snug sanctuary suitable for any skyward songbird. Not only have you made nature feel more welcome in your garden, you’ve also helped the environment by up-cycling an old milk carton!
Now, make yourself a cup of tea, enjoy the sunshine in the garden and wait for your new feathered friends to flock to their new home.