On a family visit to a local apple orchard and pumpkin patch, I discovered a great ‘green’ nature craft: a gourd bird house made from a Mexican bottle gourd. Gourd bird houses are easy, inexpensive, eco-friendly crafts, perfect for classroom or homeschool. Gourd bird houses make excellent crafts to make with senior citizens, also. Especially crafty folks may want to consider making an assortment of gourd bird houses and selling them at local craft fairs or online at etsy.com.
You will need a green bottle gourd or any other large gourd, available in many produce stands, farmer’s markets and pumpkin patches. The bottle gourd is sometimes referred as a birdhouse gourd and Mexican bottle gourd. It has smooth green skin and a ‘goose neck’ crook at the top. You can use other gourds as well. Why not make a collection of bird houses and see what feathered friends you can attract.
Before you can make your gourd bird house, the bottle gourd needs to dry thoroughly. Store the gourd in a dry area. As the gourd dries, it turns from green to tan. You’ll know when it’s thoroughly dry inside and out when you can hear the seeds rattling inside. If the surface gets a little mold or mildew, don’t worry. It will wash off. When the gourd is dried, gently scrub the exterior with warm, soapy water. Dry off the moisture. Allow the gourd to thoroughly dry or dry with a hair dryer on set on low. Drill a hole in the lower part of the gourd as an opening for the birds. The larger the hole, the larger the bird it will allow. If you are trying to attract smaller song birds, like finch try drilling a smaller hole. Small birds seek out small nest areas.
You can decorate the gourd with craft paint. If the paint doesn’t stick well, try roughing up the surface with a fine sand paper. You can simply shellac the surface also. Shellac is non-toxic and used on cooking surfaces. Try to keep the birdhouse free from any toxins that will be harmful to the birds. If you wish to decorate, try staining the birdhouse with natural dyes or food coloring. You can also decorate with marker. As for the seeds and dried membrane inside the gourd, you can clean them or leave them as a house-warming present for the birds.
Drill a small hole near the top of the gourd that goes all the way through. Tie the gourd birdhouse to the tree by passing a rope through the hole and tying it to the tree.
For more green crafts, visit the blogs listed.