Bird Houses We’ve Built


Finch House

We build a large number of these finch houses because they were so successful and easy to put up and to clean.  This was the house, hung by the back door at which we saw two baby birds fledge in 2008.


The house is made from ¼” plywood.  We adjusted the sizes slightly to build more houses from a single 2’x4’ sheet of plywood.


Side (S): 5 ½” w x 5 ¼”h   need two of these for each house

Front (F): 4 ½” x 4 ½” square. 1 ½” hole centered 1 ¼” below top 

Top (T): 4 ½” w x 5 ½”h

Bottom (B): 4 ½” w x 6 ½”h.

Rear (R): 4 ½” w x 6 ½”h.  Drill a ¼” nail hole 1” below the top


Attach Sides on the outside of the Front, Bottom and Rear using wood glue.  Do not glue the Top.  Nail through the Sides into the Top about ¼” from the Rear.  The Top should be able to pivot to open to allow easy cleaning.  The Top should slope slightly back to front and overhang the Front so rain drips off the slight lip.



Woodpecker House


The tricky part of the woodpecker house was the tall pole.  We erected a 16-foot 4x4, set in concrete.  We attached a number of houses before erecting the pole.  That was easier than using a tall ladder.  The woodpeckers used the houses for a few years in the mid-2000s, but then moved on to more natural settings, I suppose.  Bees took over one house for one summer.


We used rough 6” fence board. 4 ½” wide.  The houses were:


Side (S): 4 ½”w x 12” in front and 14” in back 

Front (F): 4 ½” x 12”h. 1 ½” hole centered 2” below top 

Top (T): 4 ½” w x 6 ½”h

Bottom (B): 4 ½” w x 4 ½”h.

Rear (R): 6” w x 17”h Drill a ¼” nail hole ½” below the top and ½” up from the bottom


Assemble Sides outside the Top and Bottom.  Notice that top will slope down toward the front.  Then assemble Front and Rear outside the box just formed.  Wood glue works well.  Caulk Top at the Rear so it doesn’t leak.  We experimented with a few different sizes for box dimensions and holes.  These sizes seemed best.


Barn Owl House


For the owl house, we used the plans from UC Davis, since they are relatively nearby.

The house took about half a sheet of plywood.  We built it in late 2009 and mounted the box in a tall redwood.  As of late 2010, no residents.


Bat Box


Yes, we know bats are mammals, not birds.  But, they fly, eat insects, and have homes the use the same construction methods, so we’ve added batbox information on this page.


We used the Single-Chamber bat box plans from Bat Conservation International ( as our starting point.  See  A very similar plan can be found on the Colorado Division of Wildlife website.


We modified the plan slightly, making the bat box a little wider because that matched the width of the piece of ½” plywood we had lying around.  We roughened the surface by cutting diagonal cuts about 1/16” deep across the inside surfaces.  For simplicity, we nailed the stack together using galvanized nails.


The box was installed in mid 2010 and mounted on our chimney, well away from the Barn Owl nest box.  The chimney is not an ideal location because the dropoff is only a few feet from the bottom of the box.  But we did not have a better location.


The Great Backyard Bird Count

If you like birds, consider joining the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), held every February around President’s Day.  You don’t need to be an expert at identifying birds to participate.  See