Making Gourd Birdhouses takes a little patience but can be well worth the time and effort. Probably one of the oldest types of birdhouses known. Native Americans were seen hanging gourds for Purple Martins thoudsands
of years ago.
Below we give a brief explanation of the process. At the end of the article are links to growing your own gourds as well as links to some of our visitors works. Take some time to check them out for some ideas.
When to Harvest
Harvest a hard-shell gourd when the vine has withered. Be careful to leave the stem attached.
It's best to cut the stem with pruning shears so you don't bruise it. Hang it in a sunny spot or put it on newspaper in a warm dry place for 3 - 6 months.
If it is lying on a flat surface, be sure to turn frequently, A proper size for birdhouses has a diameter of about 8 to 13 inches.
Wash thoroughly in water, rinse in a solution of 1 part bleach and 10 parts water, and dry with a towel.
As it dries, it will begin to mold. This is a natural part of the drying process. If dried indoors it will grow more mold and should be frequently wiped clean with the bleach solution.
When making gourd birdhouses discard any that become soft or wrinkled. To check if it is dry, give it a good shake - if the seeds rattle, you can begin making your birdhouse.
Making the Birdhouse
Soak the gourd for 15 minutes in hot soapy water, and then scrape with a dull knife to remove the outer skin and mold.
Scrub in the water with fine steel wool. Rinse it well and allow to dry thoroughly.
To locate the birds entrance hole, hold it by its stem between your index finger and
thumb and let it hang. Mark a center point along the outermost part of the curve so the hole faces straight out. Not toward the sky or the ground.
The entrance hole can be easily drilled with the proper-size hole saw or by using a keyhole saw.
It's important when making gourd birdhouses that you wear a facemask, as the dust is a caustic substance. Drill 2 sets of holes about 2 inches from the neck for hanging and ventilation.
Also drill 2 or 3 1/4 inch holes in the bottom for drainage. Drill the size hole necessary to encourage the birds you want to attract.
Remove the seeds and membrane of the gourd through the entrance hole with a long-handled metal spoon, screwdriver or a wire coat hanger.
Dip the whole thing in a wood preservative for 15 minutes, weighting it down with a brick. Then remove it and hang it up to dry for several days.
Sand the gourd smooth and paint with and
oil-based primer. Allow it to dry thoroughly. Paint the house with exterior enamel paint (do not use water based latex paint as it will peel) Apply 2 coats.
You can decorate anyway you like and hang it in the proper place to attract the birds you want.
For proper entrance hole sizes, please see our section on Building
Birdhouses where we have a chart available based on species of bird.