My husband is on social security and unable to work. He has taken up bird watching, and would like to know an inexpensive way to build bird houses, not necessarily of wood.
I don't know of any other way to build a bird house that would withstand the weather if it's not constructed out of wood.
To save money on building materials look for scrap wood along side of the road that people throw out along with their garbage. You might be able to get FREE scraps from lumber yards. Maybe others will post more ideas.
When you see construction being done, a building, house, or anything where wood is used just stop by and load up scraps. Always ask first but this saves the builder from paying someone to haul it away.
You can pretty much turn anything into a birdhouse, as long as it has drainage holes, a hole for them to enter and can be hung or fastened to a wall. I have seen cowboy boots, an old purse, a teapot hung from its bottom so it was on its side with the cover tilted over the top opening and glued, plastic containers (milk jugs, juice bottles, takeout containers) embellished and then painted (I've seen a trailer made from a takeout container), dried gourds, coffee cans (shade), PVC pipe ... the list goes on. Some good tips to remember when choosing materials:
* Does it contain toxic material that could harm the birds (like pressure treated wood with arsenic or something you can't clean out well enough)?
* Will the material deteriorate quickly (like a cardboard)?
* Does it have sharp edges?
* Will it get too hot inside (like cans which should only be used in the shade)?
* Once together, will you be able to clean it out?
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