Thursday, September 3, 2009

That Nesting Instinct

Many garden birds migrate to warmer climes for the winter, but for those that don’t, a cozy home is just what they need. Bottleneck gourds make the perfect “natural” home. Buy them already dried at a farmers market, a craft store, or better yet – grow your own or purchase them in the fall at a garden center.

A harvested gourd will need to have any dirt washed off and then rinsed in a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water to help prevent rot. Drill a small hole in the neck two inches down from the top. Insert wire to form a loop and hang in a warm place so the gourd can dry out. Don’t be alarmed if moldy circles form on the outside – it is part of the natural charm.

The gourd is ready when you can shake it and hear seeds rattle. Use steel wool to smooth the surface. Drill a two-inch hole in the gourd’s side for the bird’s front door. Remove the dried seeds and fiber. Drill a couple of quarter-inch holes in the bottom for ventilation. Leave the birdhouse natural
or paint it in imaginative colors. Finish with a couple of coats of satin polyurethane. Hang it outside in an appropriate bird habitat at least six feet above the ground.

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