One of the most rewarding and creative uses of the gourd is making your own birdhouse. Gourds have had many uses throughout history—soup ladles, fish-holding vessels, canteens, and bowls, to name a few. There are a few useful materials to make your own birdhouse gourd.
Before anything, you will need to dry out your gourd completely. The best method is to let it sit in a dry, cool place without direct sunlight, such as your garage throughout the winter months. Your gourd is ready when it is as hard as wood and the seeds inside rattle when you shake it.
It is normal for mold to accumulate on the gourd’s skin. Once the gourd is completely dried out, you should scrub its outside surface with steel wool and sandpaper to obtain a nice, smooth finish. Protect your gourd from further mold and rotting by treating it with a bleach solution (use rubber gloves and safety glasses). For fifteen minutes, soak the gourd in a ten percent bleach/water solution. To skip this process, you can purchase a gourd that has already been dried out and cleaned.
Study which species of birds frequent your home. Smaller birds require approximately a 1-1/2” hole. For larger birds, you should cut both sides off of the gourd for easy access and visibility.
Cut the desired hole size with a drill bit. Be sure to wear protective eyewear and a mask—the dust can aggravate allergies and cause respiratory problems. Clean out the inside of the gourd with a serrated knife and old spoons in order to separate the seeds and papery pith. It does not have to be perfectly clean. Next, drill three to five 3/8” holes at the bottom of the gourd for rainwater drainage.
Use sandpaper to smooth the outside of the gourd again. You can prime the gourd with an oil-based primer and coat it with paint. White is a recommended color since it will reflect the sun and keep the inside cool. For a more natural look, you can skip the paint and add 2-3 coats of polyurethane directly to the gourd’s skin.
Using an eye screw and wire, hang the birdhouse from your favorite tree and enjoy the birds as they settle into the home that you have created for them.