Natural cavities are rare where I live. Old bricks are removed & replaced by concrete, aluminium & pvc, old trees are removed & replaced by exotic species & bamboo, old people are removed - also - & replaced by younger specimens, electronic devices, labradors & portable bbq's.
Like I said before, it's really hard being a cavebird these days.
This spring we added a lot of bird houses in our garden, but despite all those efforts we couldn't avoid civil wars between species. A couple of Starlings killed 6 young Great Tits to pirate the house they were in, for example, and Wrens are nesting in the balcony nests of Barn Swallows.
Pressure is on, and so to avoid these dramas, we decided to change to another level & drown the local real estate market.
More boxes, at minimum cost & effort.
Like always, the solution was in the beer.
Step 1: Drinking for Charity
Since the time we arrived in Northern France, I'm keeping all those beer kegs aside - to use them later, you know.
For what it's worth: I didn't empty them all on my own. I think.
Yes I used one to make a safety helmet, but that makes thus minus one from the pile of shame growing in my workshop.
Thanx to the birds, I finally found a decent idea to reduce the waste, ànd to continue the drinking.
'Our birdz are in the need, you know' I said to my wife. 'I'll build them houzez, màààààààny houzez!'.
So, for this project you'll need such a steel beer keg. Or more than one.
Advantage: those kegs are leightweight, sealed and have a reasonable useful volume inside.
Step 2: Drilling the Entrance Hole
Depending on the species you want to favorise, you'll need to drill the right entrance hole.
Knowing that the edges of freshly cut beer keg steel are razorsharp, I decided to insert pvc covers.
So, use a clock drill to cut the hole in the side - diameter: same as the outside diameter of this pvc cover.
Btw, it's not the cover itself in which I was interested, but the ring - of course.
Step 3: Drilling the Maintenance Hole
Remove the external hardware & drill a big hole in the top of the keg.
Diameter: as wide as the pvc cover you'll be using.
I choose 80mm covers, since it's just the biggest clock drill I have.
Step 4: Doing the Plumbry
Like in every house building project, after the rough work it's time for some plumbry.
Take the entrance cover, cut a ring from a connection, insert the cover in the keg & glue the ring from the inside to the backside of the cover to seal that ring nice in place.
For what it's worth: the edges of the maintenance hole are razorsharp, also, so ask a child to glue the ring in place. Children have smaller hands than you. And they heal faster, also.
I had the chance having drilled a maintenance hole that was just a tiny bit smaller that the bigger pvc cover I wanted to use, and so the last could be just pushed in place.
No risk that it will run away from its own. Or that it will be pushed out by a bird. Even not a very strong bird.
The only way to remove it, in fact, is by an exploding bird.
Step 5: Isolating the Whole
Like every house, also this one needs to be isolated.
Steel is nice conductive material, you know, and to prevent thermal loss, thermal bridges, undercooled baby birds & condensation on the walls, I inserted a roll of cardboard in the keg & spent 15 minutes to poke it to the sides of the keg. Yep, thàt's why the top hole was made so big..
Once in place, a nice layer of wood chips was brought in to prevent the cardboard from moving ànd to isolate the floor.
Since this operation closed the entrance again, I drilled it out, again, with the right clock drill & added some elmers glue to keep the hole more or less immobile. Dirty, but effective.
5 or six layers of cardboard closed the roof and ready was the device.
I didn't need a waterproof cover for this one since it went straight into our barn, but if you want to use these devices outside a roof won't be a luxury. Imagination, it's all yours.
Step 6: Drink, Build & Drink Again
Place it high & place it dry. Avoid direct access to predators like cats - or stupid drunken sailors - and try to have a large fly-zone just in front of it.
The more bird houses you'll be adding, the more choice you'll give to those birds. Make big entrances & small ones. Small birds can use boxes with big entrances but small birds will be chased by big birds if big birds don't find what they need elsewhere. Birds logic, deadly effective.
Entrances needs to be directed opposite to the prevailing wind direction. It's not funny when rain chases inside and you need to grow at least two more weeks to be able to leave the cradle.
Let's drink for a better world my friends, the birds need our help!