Turn the season’s bounty into a lifetime home for lucky birds or a unique object d’art to add whimsy and color for to outdoor spaces.
Whether you have a garden full of gourds that need harvesting this time of year, or you’re just looking for a fun craft to make for yourself or for gifts, painted gourd birdhouses make great do-it-yourself projects. We’ll tell you how to turn the season’s bounty into a lifetime home for lucky birds or a unique object d’art to add whimsy and color for to outdoor spaces. You can even assemble the supplies and invite some guests over for a gourd birdhouse party.
Gourds make good birdhouses for many types of birds, including wrens, chickadees, woodpeckers, bluebirds, purple martins, and others. You can dry your own gourd, or purchase gourds that have already been dried. Dry gourds can be found at some craft stores, farms and farmers markets, as well as online sources.
Here’s how to make a gourd birdhouse:
Step1 – Choose your gourd. Bottle gourds are popular choices for birdhouses. The size of gourd and the size of the hole you need to make in the gourd will depend on the type of bird that you wish to attract. Harvest mature gourds that have hard shells, and leave at least a few inches of the stem on the gourd.
Step 2 – If you are drying your own gourd, wash it in water followed by a rinse of 1 part disinfectant or bleach to 10 parts water. Or, wash it in warm vinegar water. Blot well with a towel, and hang it to dry. If mold begins to form as it dries, wipe it with the 1:10 bleach and water solution. It may take a few months to completely dry.
Step 3 – When the gourd is dry, or if you are starting with a dried gourd, decide what size entrance hole you need and where it should be placed. You can make the hole with a drill or a small saw. It’s also a good idea to drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage, and a hole or holes in the top for hanging. You can also attach a perch just below the entrance hole if you’d like.
Step 4 – Remove seeds from the gourd through the entrance hole.
Step 5 – To help it last, you can dip the gourd in wood preservative or copper sulfate.
Step 6 – Use sandpaper to smooth the exterior of the gourd and the entrance hole.
Step 7 – You can use varnish, shellac, or paint on the outside of the gourd. If you’re using paint, choose an enamel or exterior latex paint and consider adding a primer first. Make sure that drainage holes remain open after painting.
Step 8 – Hang your gourd birdhouse and watch the birds come flocking to it.
You can leave your birdhouse plain or decorate it with painted designs such as bird pictures, nature scenes, geometric patterns, monograms, holiday motifs, or favorite team mascots and colors. With proper care and occasional re-sealing, gourd birdhouses can last for years, giving you – and the birds – hours and hours of pleasure.