Build a Bird House
Kids have a special fascination with birds so inviting them into the garden is a great way to teach children all about them. Besides making the garden an attractive place for birds using a diversity of plants they also require shelter, food, and water. Not all birds make their homes in trees or bushes. Some birds actually prefer the comfort and safety provided from birdhouses, especially those who have lost their homes because of foresting and building construction. Birdhouses offer satisfactory protection against harsh weather conditions and predators. They also provide ideal locations for birds to raise their young.
Rather than purchasing a birdhouse, why not help the kids to make one instead. Not only will they take pride in their workmanship, but imagine the excitement and wonder the kids will feel once they discover a family of birds has moved in. A birdhouse doesn’t have to cost a lot either; many of them can be easily constructed from items already on hand, which is also a plus for the environment. Kids can build a birdhouse out of materials such as gourds or old milk/juice cartons.
Making a Gourd BirdhouseGourds are closely related to pumpkins and fun to grow in the garden, as they come in many shapes, sizes, and colours. Gourds make excellent birdhouses and are easy to make. Gourds can make good homes for a variety of birds—from martins, swallows, and wrens, to bluebirds, woodpeckers, and screech owls. Of course, the bird that chooses to nest in your gourd will be dependent on the size of the gourd, its entrance hole, and its location in the garden.
Typically, bottle-shaped gourds work best, especially those that are 5 to 12 inches in diameter. Harvest your birdhouse gourd once the vine has withered, leaving at least an inch of the stem attached. Tie a length of twine around the stem and hang the gourd in a sunny, well-ventilated area to dry out. Keep a check on the gourd over the next few weeks. Once it becomes hard, and the seeds rattle when shaken, your gourd is ready to become a home for birds.
Using a drill, make an entrance hole in the centre of the gourd approximately 1 ½ to 2 inches across (note this varies depending on bird species). Also, add some small drainage holes in the bottom, and two in the top for hanging later. Allow your child to remove the seeds using a long-handled spoon, then thoroughly wash the gourd out and let it dry. Run a length of wire through the top holes and hang the birdhouse as is or let your child decorate it. This can be done by first sanding it smooth with a fine steel wool pad and wiping clean. Let your child paint the gourd and once it’s dry follow up with a couple coats of polyurethane. Hang the birdhouse at least six feet from the ground in a sheltered location of the garden.