A wooden dollar store bird house becomes a decoupage bird house and a home for wrens!
I never dreamed birds would actually move into this dollar-store bird house that I bought as a garden decoration. I painted it, decoupaged with seed packet cut-outs, and hung it in my porch for three years. Then my son bought me a birch tree for Mother’s Day so I hung the pretty decoupage bird house in the tree.
This spring a family of wrens moved in, building a nest, laying eggs and feeding a growing family until fledgings took flight. If it can happen for me, it can for you too; and it’s lovely!
Here’s how to make your own decoupage bird house – as a garden decoration – or as a warm and cozy home for birds.
» » unfinished wooden bird house
» » sandpaper
» » exterior acrylic paint
» » decoupage medium
» » water based outdoor sealer
» » seed packets or other flower pictures
» » foam paint brushes and scissors
Decoupage Bird Box – Instructions:
Sand: If your bird house feels rough, rub lightly with sandpaper, before applying a base coat of exterior acrylic paint.
Decoupage: Choose flower pictures from seed packets or gardening magazines. Cut out the flowers, holding them up against the bird box to see how they look, before cutting the pictures to fit.
I used two lupin seed packets, creating five overlapping sections, for a front line of colored lupins.
Using a foam paint brush, apply decoupage medium to the bottom front of the bird box and also to both the back and the front of the first flower cut-out. Set this cut-out against the tacky medium on the box, then gently smooth it down with the paint brush. Repeat with remaining cut-outs, overlapping as required. Once all images are in position, apply a final coat of decoupage medium, then let it dry.
Weather Proofing: Now that your decoupage bird box is fully decorated, it’s time to weather proof the outside by applying two coats of exterior sealer. This protects against summer storms as well as harsh winter conditions. In the fall, I move my bird box from the branch of a tree to a hook inside my open front porch; while still cold and snowy this is more protected than the front yard.
While the flower colors have faded in the three years since I made this box (and the birds moved in), they still look pretty; the paint color is vivid; and the outdoor sealer has done a fantastic job of weatherproofing.
I’m delighted that, this year, the wrens decided it was in good enough for their new fledging family!
Decoupage Bird Box – Observations:
Perches: I don’t usually recommend a perch on homemade bird boxes as they can be used by raiding critters. In this case, however, the wrens struggled with an existing tiny perch. Since the bird box is set in a relatively safe spot, I replaced the stub with a natural twig. The wrens loved this, both for entering the nest, and also perching outside while feeding the baby birds inside. Perfect!
Sizing: Wooden bird houses from the dollar store are mass-produced garden decorations and usually too small for most birds. I was lucky, in that my wooden bird box was just large enough, and just deep enough, for little wrens. But please do not encourage nesting in a box that will prove too small as the eggs hatch and the fledglings grow.
Resources: Check Build the Right Bird House for more information and a chart specifying the best size, depth, and hole diameter for various bird species.
See Audubon’s field guide information on the House Wren. This tiny bird was named for its habit of nesting near human homes and in bird houses.
Learn more about the art of decoupage.