Every autumn of my life outdoor conditions have changed in the same way. The soft breeze becomes cold wind, the days get short and dark and the Earth becomes a cold damp place. You'd think I'd get used to it, but it always comes as a shock.
For outdoor people who hate to be cold, there are some fun activities that have both indoor and outdoor components. Now is the perfect time to repair and create birdhouses. Clean out all the musty old nesting material that makes it no place to put a baby. Once your house is clean and repaired, put in a handful of fresh straw or dry grass to give the young couple a start.
Over the years some birdhouses have rotted away, so I looked in a few
books for construction ideas. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
With less materials and fewer tools, you could probably build a
2-bedroom house. But I did find two important pieces of information.
Doorway holes should be exactly one and a half inches in diameter.
This is the perfect size to let our little birds in, without being large
enough to admit predator birds like starlings. Most important, skip the
perch. While parents will dart right in, the perch gives predators a
place to stand.
I began ranging the place for options and found a couple dried gourds
to cut doorways into and paint, but my best find is currently an ugly
white plastic tub with a black, screw-on lid. It originally held whey
protein. Extra straw will make it feel right as well as provide
I'll make several drainage holes in the bottom and cut a doorway hole
a bit larger than the right diameter so I can soften it to size with
duct tape. Bore a hole just big enough for a wire or strong twine
through the lid, thread it through and knot it, then waterproof the hole
and stabilize the job with a good gob of hot glue.
Now comes the fun part. We get to decorate our birdhouses however we
like, using stickers, markers, acrylic craft paint, even bark shreds,
moss or pine needles. Kids love this process, and it's a good
opportunity for them to express their creativity on rainy days. Houses
that are earth-color attract birds, but they don't mind butterflies and
fairies in their scenery.
When your project has had time to dry, add straw or dry grass and
wait for that magical day when a break in the weather and a surge of
energy come together. Hang your new houses in trees or attach them to
posts in shrubbery so the birds will feel safe.
It would be a huge kindness to install a birdhouse for someone who
loves to watch the birds but can't physically provide homes. When you do
such a kindness for people, they think of you every time they look at
it. This is called prayer in some circles.