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Making a Gourd Birdhouse

You can grow your own gourds and make some comfortable bird houses for many common cavity nesting birds. This guide is about making a gourd birdhouse.
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By 7 found this helpful
June 11, 2009

Here is a photo of a bird house "neighborhood community" that my dad and step-mom created out of gourds they grew last year.

By HICKCHIC3 from North Augusta, SC

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Comment Was this helpful? 7

By 8 found this helpful
November 2, 2010

Gourds are fun and easy to grow, and many of the hard-shell types make wonderful houses for common cavity-nesting bird species like chickadees, nuthatches, and martins. Here are some tips on how to grow gourds, cure them, and turn them into cozy homes for your feathered friends.
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The Best Gourds for Birdhouses:

The most common types of gourds used for making birdhouses are bottle gourds. In catalogs and garden centers the seeds are often labeled and sold as "Mexican bottle gourds", or "birdhouse" gourds. Other gourds make good birdhouses, too, including: Dipper gourds, Maranka gourds, Penguin gourds, and Kettle gourds. Ideally, the variety you choose should have a bulbous base that is at least 8 to 10 inches in diameter and a neck or stem long enough to attach a wire for hanging.

Growing Gourds:

If you have the room (vines can reach 100 feet in a single season), birdhouse gourds are pretty simple to grow. All they really need is a lot of sun, a lot of water, and a good long stretch (150-180 days) of warm weather. If you live in a cooler climate with a shorter growing season, start seeds early indoors. It's wise to place your seed order in the fall for the following season as supplies of these popular seeds can run short once spring rolls around.

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Here is some general information on their growing requirements:

http://www.thriftyfun.com/tf13415917.tip.html

If you don't have the time or room to grow gourds, you can always buy them and do the curing and finishing yourself. Look for them in the fall at nurseries, garden centers, farmer's markets, and crafts stores - the same places you find decorative gourds and pumpkins for sale.

The Curing Process: To cure your gourds, cut them from the vine once they fully mature (turn from green to tan). Store them in a warm location with good air circulation and leave them to dry (up to several months). Don't worry if during the process you see some shriveling and a few small spots appear. This is perfectly normal. When the gourd is completely dry the seeds inside will rattle when you shake it. Now you can clean the outer surface with a wire brush or sandpaper. After cleaning the outer surface, soak the gourd for 10-15 minutes in a bleach solution (1 part bleach, 10 parts water) to help further protect it from rot and mold. Remove it from the solution and allow it to completely dry before working it into a birdhouse.

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Making Birdhouses

Materials:

Steps for creating your birdhouse:

  1. Create the entry hole: To thwart would-be predators, different bird species have very specific preferences as to the size of the entry holes to their nests. Determine what type of species you would like to attract with your birdhouse, then use this chart to locate the appropriate entry size (and the height their nest is from the ground).
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    http://www.wild-bird-watching.com/Building_Bird_Houses.html

  2. Once you've determined the appropriate size, draw a circle just above the widest part of the gourd to mark the location of the entry hole.
  3. Drill 3 or 4 small holes around the circle, 1/4 inch apart, to get the hole started.
  4. Once you have the holes drilled, use the keyhole saw to enlarge the hold to the proper size.
  5. Don't worry about adding a perch. Perches enable access by predators and most birds prefer to go without them.
  6. Add drainage holes: Turn the gourd over and make 3 small holes in the bottom. These holes will enable drainage and allow for air circulation. Depending on the size of the gourd, you may also want to add 2-3 additional "vent" holes along the bottom sides to help with air circulation.
  7. Attach wire for hanging: Drill 2 small holes on either side of the stem or neck, 1 - 1 1/2 inches from the top. Run your wire through the holes to create a hanger. To create a nest with less "swing" in the wind, try using a wire clothes hanger instead of flexible wire.
  8. Hollow out the inside: Once your drainage holes are drilled and you have attached wire for hanging, use a fork or spoon to scrape the inside of the gourd clean.
  9. Weather-proof the exterior: To protect your birdhouse from the elements and extend its lifespan, weatherproof the exterior (not the interior!) with 2-3 coats of clean polyurethane. If you prefer a more colorful look, skip the polyurethane and use enamel paint over an oil-based primer instead. Just be sure to stick with lighter colors. Dark paint absorbs heat and may cause the birdhouse to overheat in the summer.
  10. Hang your birdhouse and enjoy your new neighbors!

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Questions

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August 13, 2009

Some time ago, someone posted pictures of bird houses made from gourds. I would like instructions. For example, do I cut the hole and clean out the insides, or do I just hang them and let the birds do it all? Also, I would like creative ways to suspend them.

By catastrofy from Winnipeg, Canada

Answers

August 17, 20090 found this helpful

Chcek out this site or read below.
http://www.wild … -Birdhouses.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Making Gourd Birdhouses takes a little patience, but can be well worth the time and effort.
Watching birds nest in your own homemade gourd birdhouse, will give you, the birdwatcher, just a little more joy and satisfaction in providing for our birds.

When to Harvest

Harvest a hard-shell gourd when the vine has withered. Be careful to leave the stem attached.
It's best to cut the stem with pruning shears so you don't bruise it. Hang it in a sunny spot or put it on newspaper in a warm dry place for 3 - 6 months.

If it is lying on a flat surface, be sure to turn frequently, A proper size for birdhouses has a diameter of about 8 to 13 inches. Wash thoroughly in water, rinse in a solution of 1 part bleach and 10 parts water, and dry with a towel.

Drying Process
As it dries, it will begin to mold. This is a natural part of the drying process. If dried indoors it will grow more mold and should be frequently wiped clean with the bleach solution.

When making gourd birdhouses discard any that become soft or wrinkled. To check if it is dry, give it a good shake - if the seeds rattle, you can begin making your birdhouse.

Making the Birdhouse
Soak the gourd for 15 minutes in hot soapy water, and then scrape with a dull knife to remove the outer skin and mold.

Scrub in the water with fine steel wool. Rinse it well and allow to dry thoroughly.

To locate the birds entrance hole, hold it by its stem between your index finger and thumb and let it hang. Mark a center point along the outermost part of the curve so the hole faces straight out. Not toward the sky or the ground.

The entrance hole can be easily drilled with the proper-size hole saw or by using a keyhole saw.
Wear a face mask, as the dust is a caustic substance. Drill 2 sets of holes about 2 inches from the neck for hanging and ventilation.

Also drill 2 or 3 1/4 inch holes in the bottom for drainage. Drill the size hole necessary to encourage the birds you want to attract.

Remove the seeds and membrane of the gourd through the entrance hole with a long-handled metal spoon, screwdriver or a wire coat hanger.
Dip the whole thing in a wood preservative for 15 minutes, weighting it down with a brick. Then remove it and hang it up to dry for several days.

Sand the gourd smooth and paint with and oil-based primer. Allow it to dry thoroughly. Paint the house with exterior enamel paint (do not use water based latex paint as it will peel) Apply 2 coats.

Decorate anyway you like and hang it in the proper place to attract the birds you want.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
August 17, 20090 found this helpful

Wow! Karyn01 that was a fantastic write up! You spelled it out better than I've ever seen! I know I'm definitely going to follow your directions!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
August 17, 20090 found this helpful

Thank you, Karyn01, best directions ever! Can't wait for fall so I can get started on my "winter bird house project".

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