Making Birdhouses Out of Old Tin Cans
As someone who enjoys crafting and appreciates recycling, I’ve found that making birdhouses out of old tin cans is a fun project that achieves both goals. Birdhouses created from reused materials provide our feathered friends with safe shelters to nest, roost, and raise their young. At the same time, upcycling tin cans keeps them out of the landfill. With a few simple materials and tools, you can easily transform empty tin cans into charming birdhouses that add whimsy and purpose to your yard or garden.
Finding the Right Tin Cans for Birdhouses
When choosing which tin cans to use to make a birdhouse, there are a few things to keep in mind:
The size of the can will determine what species of bird it can accommodate. Smaller cans, like tuna cans, work well for chickadees, titmice, and wrens. Larger coffee cans are suitable for bluebirds and nuthatches.
Remove any sharp edges from the can’s lid and rim so there are no hazards. Use a metal file or sandpaper to smooth any rough spots.
Thoroughly clean the cans and remove any paper labels to discourage pests. Avoid cans with plastic liners that are difficult to remove.
Cans with wider bases are more stable and less likely to tip over when hung or mounted.
Vintage-looking cans, such as old coffee tins, add a charming rustic aesthetic. Make sure to sand and clean them thoroughly first.
With the right can selected, you’re ready to begin crafting your birdhouse!
Tools and Materials Needed
To DIY a tin can birdhouse, you will need:
- Empty tin cans – clean with labels removed
- Cordless drill – to make entry hole and drainage holes
- Metal drill bits – match size to entry hole recommendations
- Acrylic craft paint
- Wood perch – can use small tree branch, dowel, or twig
- Eye screw or loop – to hang birdhouse
- Wire – to hang birdhouse if needed
Optional decorative materials:
- Stencils – for patterns and designs
- Glitter – to add sparkle
- Bottle caps – to glue on as embellishments
Creating Entry and Ventilation Holes
The entry hole and ventilation holes are key features that allow birds access to the shelter while promoting air flow.
The entry hole should be 1-1 1/2″ in diameter for small birds or 1 1/2-2″ for larger species. Make the entry about 5-6″ above the bottom.
Use a metal drill bit the appropriate size for the species and carefully drill the entry hole smooth. File any rough edges.
Ventilation holes can be made with a smaller drill bit. Adding 4-6 holes allows air flow and discourages pests. Space evenly around sides and top.
Drainage holes in the bottom allow rainwater to flow out so nests remain dry.
Painting and Decorating Your Birdhouse
Now for the fun part – painting and decorating the birdhouse! Acrylic craft paints work best for adhering to the tin’s smooth surface. Here are some ideas:
Add pops of color by painting the birdhouse in a bright, cheery hue like robin’s egg blue. Use a contrasting color for the roof.
Stencil patterns like flowers, leaves, or geometric shapes make the birdhouse more visually interesting. Metallic paint also adds flair.
Use a paint pen to draw sweet details like vines, daisies, birds, or the house number. Personalize with your name or creative sayings.
Glitter paint adds a festive touch of sparkle and shimmer to your birdhouse.
Glue on quirky embellishments like buttons, beads, bottle caps, or ribbons.
The options are endless when decorating your handcrafted tin can birdhouse!
Attaching a Hanger and Perch
To hang and use your birdhouse, it needs a hanger and perch:
Screw an eye screw or loop into the inside ceiling of the can. Thread wire through and twist it closed to form a hanger.
A wooden perch provides birds a place to land before entering. Attach a small branch, twig, or dowel with hot glue or small screws.
Place the hanger over a tree branch, under an eave, or on a pole. Ensure it’s about 5-6 feet off the ground and away from predators.
Face the entry hole away from prevailing winds so birds can easily access. Also angle it down slightly so rain doesn’t get inside.
Maintaining Your Birdhouse
To keep your DIY tin can birdhouse safe and functional for birds:
Monitor it through the seasons and clean out old nests after baby birds fledge in the fall.
Use a gentle cleaner and small brush to wash away dirt or bird droppings. Let it air dry completely before hanging again.
Check for signs of damage, leaks, or rust and patch holes or repaint as needed.
Repair any attachments like hangers, perches, or decorations that become loose.
With simple care and maintenance, your handcrafted tin can birdhouse can provide birds shelter for many seasons to come! It’s a fun, eco-friendly project that promotes upcycling while giving back to nature and your feathered friends.