Looking to combine a fun kids craft project with outdoor summer fun? You don’t need to visit the wetlands and salt marshes to do a little bird watching. This is one activity you and your family can enjoy in the sweetness of your own backyard. Birds are everywhere, and our watchful little toddlers just love pointing out the sparrows and blue jays when they flitter into the scene. Invite some avian species into your personal space with the help of a homemade birdhouse.

The Gathering
Wood is a great building material for birdhouses because it avoids overheating. For an easy, makeshift craft project, you can even use sturdy cardboard. A hollow, half-gallon milk carton or empty shoebox are two places where you can start. You can also salvage some sturdy plastic to create a see-through wall. Have your little helper assist in finding the goods.

Cutting and Gluing
When creating your structure, keep the roof, floor, and walls in mind. Place the roof at an angle to prevent standing water. Let it hang over the entrance opening for protection from the elements, and include small holes in the roof for ventilation. Holes should also be drilled or poked into the floor, allowing rainwater to drain. While drilling, sawing, and cutting are grown-up duties, toddlers love to pour on glue or pass on screws. They can even help paint the finished product.

A Home for the Nest
When finding a location for the birdies, choosing a safe spot is key. One option is to hang it from a wire where the squirrels and cats can’t jump to it. Choose a place that’s shielded from the wind and open to partial sun. Perhaps your little helper can hang a birdfeeder nearby.

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Tree swallows, robins, chickadees, and Western bluebirds are among the many Bay Area cavity-nesting birds that may take you up on your offer to use an artificial birdhouse. Watching a little family take wing before your eyes with will spark endless conversation for your own little nest.

—Renee Macalino

Bay Area birding resources:

www.sfbaywildlife.info
www.marinaudubon.org/
www.goldengateaudubon.org/
www.tiburonaudubon.org/
www.Baynature.org

Photo Courtesy of Bay Nature