Making bird houses out of dried gourds is a fast growing trend that has many people searching for help and information on growing gourds, cleaning them and ways to decorate them so that they are both pleasing to the human eye as well as being attractive and safe for your feathered friends.
Gourds are easily made into houses by making an entrance hole and providing drainage. If you use gourds to attract Purple Martins, it’s not necessary to add railings and perches like the Purple Martin houses. Adult martins will perch on the wire and scout for food that you use to hang the houses.
With Purple Martin houses, you have to use a pole mount variety that is elevated between ten and twenty feet. Although some poles are less cumbersome than others, this can still be a pain when it comes time to set up and clean the nesting box. Gourd houses, on the other hand, are the easiest to set up. You can string them in a colony from a wire between two poles, from a sectional aluminum pole, or on pulleys mounted to a cross-bar high up on a pole.
After scouring around and talking to a few sources on the subject I found the best place to learn more about making gourd bird houses is in a book! I’ve showcased a few at right for you. Each of these books have been hand selected for their thoroughness and idea generation. To get you started growing and making your own gourd bird houses though I’ve provided some tips below.
Preparing the Gourd
The first steps on preparing your gourd for decoration after drying is to bleach all surfaces with a 1 to 10, bleach to water, solution. Let it dry fully, lightly sand off any rough surfaces and seal using the following process.
The next step is to seal the gourd, both inside and out. You can use Thompson’s Water Seal or a similar sealant. If you’re uncertain which similar brand to buy, ask a clerk at the hardware store.)
Sealing your bird house gourd will protect it as it hangs outside for many years to come. (If you live in a cold climate like us, make sure you bring it in over the winter.)
Let your sealed gourds drip dry in a well ventilated location for about a week to ensure full penetration of the sealant to the gourd.
Paint Your Dried Gourd
Now you’re ready to paint! To ensure a smooth surface that readily accepts your decorative talents, prime the area first with a good oil-based exterior primer. Let dry fully and start painting!
All these drying and sealing times, followed up with an acrylic surface should ensure that the bird house you’ve created will be safe for the birds.
When you’re satisfied with the results, grab some clear exterior grade, high gloss, transparent latex sealant and apply 3-5 coats to your finished gourd bird house.