More projects just like this one can be found in my newly-released book. And remember this: birds do not care if holes are perfectly round. Save extras in a labeled envelope for spring planting. Smooth out the rough edges of the entrance hole with coarse, medium, and then fine grit sandpaper. To reduce the risk of late-season mold, drill three ¼ inch drainage holes in the bottom of the gourd. For a burnished appearance, rub wood preserver or beeswax onto the gourd with an old rag. Make a quick observation of how many eggs or young are visible.Also, drill two ¼ inch holes on opposite sides near the gourd’s top for hanging. Inspect the nest weekly to observe any changes, but do not go near the nest if the young are older.They may prematurely leap out of the nest and not return.

Most birds are opportunistic builders, though, and will gladly integrate other items of similar size and texture into their nests. Audubon’s unprecedented analysis of 40 years of bird population data reveals alarming declines for many of our most beloved birds.

Since 1970, the population of some bird species has nose-dived as much as 80 percent.

And so it’s vital to help out a backyard buddy or two as much as possible. Use progressively finer grit sandpaper to get a smooth finish—coarse, then medium, then fine grit.

May is the perfect time to supply a safe spot for a nest—and a birdhouse gourd provides an ideal spot. Don’t attempt to remove every spot, just sand until the gourd surface is smooth. The size of the entrance will determine the inhabitant, so first determine the common birds in your backyard, and then consider potential tenants. In early April, hang your gourd home for backyard friends.

If you are lucky enough to have grown birdhouse gourds in your garden last year, you have a garage full of dried gourds. Do some research on what size entrance hole your potential new neighbor would require. Feed cord or twine through the top holes—an old coat hanger helps push flexible cord through. If you are lucky to see some birdhouse activity this spring or summer, watch from afar until several days after nest building concludes.

If not, you can easily purchase an inexpensive one online right HERE. Wearing protective goggles, carefully carve a hole into the main cavity (slightly above the center of the gourd) with a drill and expansion bit. To avoid nest abandonment, make a very brief nest inspection.Below are instructions for how to make a simple birdhouse gourd. Gather all materials outside and lay down several layers of newspaper as a work surface. Use warm water and a wire brush or steel wool to remove any surface mold. Position the entrance hole high enough to allow space for a roomy nest. Remove the dried interior fiber and most of the seeds from the gourd, but be sure to leave a few seeds inside to attract potential boarders. If desired, apply red or brown shoe polish with a cotton ball. Let the gourd dry for several hours and buff it lightly with a dry rag. If desired, apply polyurethane to preserve the gourd. Wait for the adults to leave, quietly approach the birdhouse, and take a peek inside.Since a home is normally filled with prized possessions—cute smallish snuggly things—it makes sense to keep it nice and tidy and safe. Bird nests are marvels of architecture—built with specific materials and meticulously maintained.Even a relatively simple nest is often elegantly constructed.A yellow warbler’s may have coarse twigs at the base, finer plant fibers and grasses intertwined with weeds and plant stems inside the open cup, and plant down and wool within the inner lining. Nest-building materials are species-specific—mud, silk, feathers, milkweed and cattail fluff, deer hair, lichen, spider silk, moss, twigs, leaves, petioles, roots, stones, flowers, seeds, ferns—each is carefully selected for unique nest-building tasks.A more intricate nest, such as that of the Baltimore oriole, may require actual plant fiber weaving or knot-tying to secure materials. For example, the great crested flycatcher often adds a piece of shed snakeskin to the nest to help deter predators or other intruders.