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Making Gourd Birdhouses

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Birdhouses made from gourds are a fun wintertime craft and make a great project to do with kids.  There are several varieties of gourd which make great birdhouses -- You can sometimes buy them at your local farmers' market, or if you're in it for the long haul you can grow your own.  If you are taking the true DIY route, make sure to hang the gourds in a dry place after harvesting them in the fall.  They should be moisture-free before you start this instructable.  Depending on your climate, this could take an entire year.

For this project, you'll need

-Dry Gourds
-Sander or Sandpaper and patience
-Drill
-1" Forsner Bit
-A small eye screw for each gourd
-A length of cord or wire for each gourd
-All-weather paint (We used white spray paint)

 
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Step 1: Sand

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The first step to cleaning up the gourds is lots of sanding.  An electric sander speeds up this process, but sandpaper works just as well.  When you have finished, the gourds should be lighter in color and very smooth.

After you've cleaned the gourds, sand down the stem, leaving a small nub for attaching the eye bolt.

Step 2: Drill

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Using the 1" Forsner bit, drill a hole in the main cavity of your gourd.  This will be the entrance for your guests.  At this point, you can take out a lot of the seeds and dried interior flesh, but make sure to leave a few seeds inside.  Legend has it that this attracts birds to nest in the birdhouse.

Also drill a small pilot hole in the remaining stem and put in the eye screw.

Step 3: Paint

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Depending on your style, you can paint the gourds however you like or finish them with a clear sealant.  The protective coating of paint or sealant will help your birdhouse last through the seasons.  Hanging the gourds from the eye hooks while painting provides a convenient way to reach the entire surface.

Step 4: Hang

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Find a spot within eye-shot of a window or porch and hang your birdhouses using the length of wire or cord.  With luck it will have inhabitants before long.
zacker2 years ago
I use a wire wheel on a drill to get all the nasty outer layer off the outside, i then drill the hole for the entrance and use a long thin screwdriver to scrape out the insides..i get out as much as possible. then i drill a smaller hole and glue a twig in it for a perch and drill a hole through the top near the stem to put wire through for a loop to hang it. on the last one i did, i put a small Roof overhang above the entrance hole and now its got chickadees in it...lol
lesizz2 years ago
I have a couple gourds, but they are not dry. How do you dry them? I wonder if I could accomplish that by putting them in the oven at a low temperature, so that I don't have to wait a couple of years while they dry out.
wobbler3 years ago
Gourd job!
SandWolf3 years ago
The only thing I would add, is a short section of dowel just below the opening. I've done this before, and without some sort of "landing platform" the Red-Wasps tend to occupy the gourds before the birds. Shoot wasp spray at the gourd and watch the thing spin! :/
thepelton3 years ago
The best test is: Do the birds like them?
caseyst3 years ago
Sanding isn't really necessary. Basically all you need to do is give the gourd a good spray with 409 or any good spray cleaner, let them sit a few minutes, then use a stainless steel scrubber. The mold and dirt come right off and leave gorgeous patterns and a lovely smooth surface - it'd be a shame to sand those patterns off! Also if they're going to be used outside, don't use varnish - use something like Thompson's Water Seal to keep the gourds waterproof. Great instructable! :)
Skywoolf3 years ago
Great idea. I think I may try sanding and varnishing to keep the natural color.
jacob2die43 years ago
really nice.. lovin it
Simple and beuaty! I Like it.
Gordyh3 years ago
I drill 3 or 4, 1/4" holes in the bottom of the gourd. This allows any rain that is blown in through the entrance hole to drain out, so the nest won't flood and reduce the risk of mold which would be bad for the birds.

Dr Pepper,

Yes they do work the House Wrens love them. the Wrens are excellent bug hunters. But they are territorial so place the houses at-least 50 feet apart, or else the male will over fill all houses but the one he is going to use with in his territory.
Carleyy3 years ago
Wow, this is great!
This is awesome! We have some birdhouse gourds from our garden, and we're going to make these soon! Right now they're still drying out but they should be finished soon :D
angelabchua3 years ago
Oh i love this!
Dr. Pepper3 years ago
Those are gorgeous! Do they work well?
Kozz3 years ago
Those look pretty nice. And then all you need is differently-sized Forstner bits to accommodate different bird species.

One thing to note is that you probably ought to wear a respirator. Folks who work with gourds a LOT can develop sickness due to the dust. http://www.thegourdreserve.com/gourd_safety.html
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