One corner of my garage has been filling with scrap wood over the years. Despite trying to minimize the amount of waste and leftovers for each project, eight years of work has filled a couple of bins and a wheelbarrow, with most pieces under a foot and a half.
I have been trying to find uses for the wood instead of discarding it, so when my son asked about having a birdhouse it seemed like the perfect opportunity to use a few of these pieces and clear some space in the garage.
Unsure of what size houses to build, I looked up several plans online and then researched dimensions for different local species. To take it a step further, I cross-referenced this with bird species threatened or endangered in Illinois. Not surprisingly, the natural habitats of the majority of the birds on the lists are near water. Our backyard is not usually a wetland. Furthermore, building a box to attract an owl or hawk to the backyard where the kids and dog play did not seem like the best idea.
However, two species on the list utilize similar sized houses easily produced with the dimensions of the scrap lumber I had available: the Bewick’s Wren and the Cerulean Warbler.
Being a scrap wood project, I did not want to make a lot of unnecessary cuts (I was not busting out the table saw to rip anything lengthwise), nor was I going to purchase anything for the project. We followed the dimensions provided as closely as possible, added an angled roof, and left space to attach the houses to trees where we wanted them to hang.
The cuts were all end cuts on the mitre saw. After the cutting was complete, we drilled holes in the front for an entrance and the perch. To assemble them, we glued the edges, clamped the pieces together, and nailed them tight.
To finish off the project, we painted the houses using leftover paint from other projects. My son picked the colors.
While there is no guarantee that the endangered or threatened species will use the houses, (many other birds nest in houses this size and may take up residency first) there is a chance. And although the project did not put as significant a dent in the wood pile as I would have liked, it was purposeful, worthwhile, and time well spent with my son – something we may do again in the future.