Building a "Semi-Open" Bird House

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Learn a family-friendly project for building a semi-open birdhouse perfect for passerines and other cave-dwelling birds with this simple tutorial.

For more ideas to help you welcome a greater range of wildlife into your garden, check out the other tutorials in our series- all of the projects are suitable to do with children!

Simply follow the step-by-step instructions to learn how you and your family can promote wildlife in your garden by building this semi-open birdhouse.

Voice-over by volunteer Mollie Keane

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In this video, we will learn how to build a 'semi-open' bird house. This model is easy to make, and is good for song birds which nest in the 'letterbox' model, such as the robin, flycatchers and the Eurasian wren. These birds like nesting in cavities such as walls, huts and roofs overhangs.

To build a 'semi-open' birdhouse, we will need:

Planks of untreated wood, bracket, screws or nails, and a strip of copper wire.

We will also need:

A clamp, tape measure, pencil, try-square, saw, a drill or hammer, ladder, and wire cutters.

In this example, we will build a birdhouse 23 centimeters (9 inches) wide, 20 centimeters high (7.8 inches), and 12 centimeters deep (4.7 inches).

Measure, cut and assemble the 7 planks with the indicated dimensions. Here, we will need:

two bevelled planks, 12 cm (4.7 inches) wide by 20 (7.8 inches) and 16 centimeters long (6.3 inches), for the sides,

one plank, 19 by 20 centimeters (7.5 by 7.8 inches), for the back;

Another of 19 by 9 cm (7.5 by 3.5 inches) for the front.

One plank 12 by 15 cm (4.7 by 5.9 inches) for the bottom.

a final one, 23 by 23 centimeters (9 by 9 inches), for the roof

and a bracket, 25 by 3 centimeters, (9.8 by 1.2 inches), to attach the birdhouse to a tree.

Now make four holes of 5 millimetres (0.2 inch) in diameter on the bottom of the birdhouse. They will allow the water to drain out in case of heavy rain, and prevent nestlings from drowning!

Attach the sides, then the back and front onto the bottom of the birdhouse.

If your wood is dense, pre-drill the holes to avoid splitting it.

Now screw on the roof.

Thanks to the large front opening, the birdhouse can easily be cleaned in autumn, through the front.

Place the bracket in the middle of the back panel. This will make it easier to hang.

Your 'semi-open' birdhouse is now finished!

If you wish to protect the wood, use ecological and natural products, such as linseed oil, or warmed beeswax which you can apply with a brush, but only to the outside of the birdhouse! Apply in the direction of the wood fibres for better absorption, avoiding putting any inside the flight hole.

The only thing left to do is to install it as soon as winter comes, about 2 meters (6.5 feet) off the ground on a tree, or under the roof of an inner courtyard.

Use a ladder and wrap a length of copper wire around the tree trunk and the birdhouse: This way you will avoid damaging the tree with nails!

Align the flight hole south or south-east, but never north or west due to strong winds, rain, and cold.

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