Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2 birdhouses for the price of 1 hangover!

I hope you have made it safely into 2017, my friends!

Currently, I am going back and forth between having peaceful thought about a new year and having very hateful thoughts about the inventor of the new year's kiss, and trying to find out where the guy lives so that I can make his life miserable. 

Why all that hate? Well, because WHY would you invent a tradition that involves kissing all kinds of strangers in the middle of flu-season? that's just the evilest thing I can imagine! And as a result, Joost and I are down with a very impressive collection of flu's ( and mind you, I even got a flu shot this year),  and take turns in keeping each other up at night with our symphonies of coughing, snottering and cursing our own -and each other's- existence. 

But well, back to the peaceful thoughts, and from that into a big topic that always resurfaces around new years eve: new year's resolutions. 

I've loved them, I've hated them, and now I'm growing older (well...) I'm kind of settling for a position in the middle: resolutions and goals show that you are able to reflect on your own being, and are willing to grow and improve yourself. So let's embrace it. But there shouldn't be a strict deadline on improving yourself. Also, I think there is an important difference between wanting to improve yourself, or wanting to fit in to an expectation that is just not you. And last: failing is part of learning. So already completely cocked up your resolutions? Great, that's the first lesson, so don't despair just yet! 

resolution: being more attentive to the beauty around me.
(my favourite photo of 2016: the harbour of Iraklion with fish swimming (unfiltered)

So, here's a few of my resolutions (to be repeated many times during the year)

- plant a tree
- make a new friend
- end an old fight
- stop and make time for beautiful things
- do something that I consider myself too old for
- fail at something
- go for a long walk outside
- realize that you are amazing
- help an animal

From my resolutions my thoughts wandered to a few birds that were flying past the window ( well.. flying.. more kind of being swept along by the stormy wind), and from that to.. bird houses. 

Yep, bird houses! I remember that we made a few on primary school. I also remember that they always took a lot of time to make, and usually ended up looking rather shoddy. But having young birds in your garden is quite amazing, and bonus: it would be in line with my resolutions to help the birds a bit. 

But why waste time on assembling pieces of wood in a boxy shape when there a plenty of thing lying around that already come in more or less the right shape, such as a wine box? I'm guessing that after christmas and new years you might have a few spare ones. They are quite easy to transform into not one, but two bird houses,  and bonus: the sliding lid provides you with a removable backside of the house for easy cleaning, ka-ching! 

So here we go!! 

for two bird houses you'll need the following

  • wine box
  • measuring equipment
  • a bit of extra wood for the roof ( ~ 10x30 cm)
  • wood glue
  • small nails + a hammer
  • a drill with a drilling bit of 32 mm    ( if you don't have one, don't worry just yet, just read on!)
  • (spray) paint
  • a piece of bicycle tire
  • a dowel or small bits of wood

this post is only an inspiration of one of the many ways to make birdhouses from wine boxes. 
you can make easier versions without a pointed roof, make a bird-flat from it, use the bigger wine boxes for big birds, use them sideways, etc etc..

In my version I started with the following wine box:

oh no! it's all empty!

I dug up my protractor and divided the box in to more or less the same halves:

the protractor is still marked has the typex stains from my high school days, I'm feeling nostalgic here...

And from this middle line, I drew two pointed roofs, by drawing two diagonal lines that crossed at the middle.

like this!!
If you've got a bit of imagination, you can already see two tiny houses that tough each other with their roofs.
 I traced the lines to the front of the wine box...

juuust like that..

and was ready to start wood working, (whoopwhoop!)
So now it's time to leave the comfort of the living room behind, retract to the garage (Urggg, cold!!) and grab yourself a saw. Any saw will do really, but because I can imagine not all of you own electrical ones, I opted for the old fashioned one.

and started cutting along the diogonal lines...

It really helps if you start with the second diagonal before you've completely cut the first, that way the wine box is still kind of in tact, which helps with the sawing.

like this!
If the wine box becomes unstable during sawing, just hammer in a few small nails, no biggie!

nailed it!
now, saw down all the way to the bottom...

two tiny houses!
and also saw the lid in the same shape. You can probably also leave it in place during sawing the rest, and cut it all in one go, but I didn't because I was afraid it might move around and I would screw up everything.

poor bird though, I hope they are into the tiny house movement!
and the best part is.. you've got two of them!

the workbench was one of the reasons why we loved the house...
Before continuing, I painted the insides for hygiene, because bare wood and a nest full of birds? ... not a brilliant combo..

black it is..
After looking around on the internet a bit, I found out that birds who prefer nesting places of this size ( such as sparrows) need a hole that's about 32 mm wide. So I grabbed my drill, attached the right drilling bit..

and miserably failed.. as you can see in the picture, the wood I'm drilling is in the air ( because resting on the sides of the bird house)  so as soon as I was almost through the wood, the wood split, because of the power of the drill. So if you want to try it yourself, you'd be wise to turn the birdhouse upside down and drill from the inside out, the the wood can rest upon a surface while you are drilling.

in my case, a bit of muttering and wood glue did the trick though ;)

If you haven't got a drill, you can make a birdhouse for a robin, who prefer half open nesting places ( I'm three google searches into bird houses and already feeling like a proper ornithologist!). It's easy to do so by making the back the front, and shortening the lid of the wine box to make a wide opening. it's as easy as that!

With your entering hole ( front door? entrance?) in place, it's time for the roof!

grab a bit of spare wood, and start tracing the shape of the roof for each side...

A bit of overhang to keep the rain out
and a good bit of wood glue and small nails to keep the roof in place.

And with  the roof attached, I was almost finished.

the last job was a good layer of paint ( I choose spray paint because I'm lazy)

I opted for red with a black roof because it reminds me of the houses in Sweden, though in this photo it mainly reminds of of anything fluorescent. 

and of course I added a landing branch (bit of drilling, bit of glue and a dowel) I read that sparrows don't really need them, but I liked the look of it, so this house is for very flamboyant sparrows I guess.

I mean, even a sparrow can dream, can he?
the other house got an even fancier entree with a ladder made from tiny scraps of wood glued together, for the Really flamboyant sparrows.

the final step was making the roof watertight by sealing the top with a strip of bicycle tire (I've got plenty of those) and a bit of glue.

wood glue is not brilliant for bike tires, it seems... 
The back panel kept sliding down, so I fixed it with a little screw ( which I can easily remove whenever I want to clean the houses)

And done!!

as you can see, my painting technique was a bit expressionist that day..

the next day, I ignored my snotty head and went outside and gave them a new place against our brand spanking new shed:

Are they the strongest, sturdiest bird houses ever made? No, definitely not. They are probably the ornitological equivalent of housing corporation houses. But well, luckily birds don't give a rat's arse about things such as insulation values.
I'm not sure how many seasons they will hold up, but for a bird house made out of waste products, which you can make two of in about an hour and a half, does it really matter if they don't last decades? I don't think so ;)

The invention of wine-box-bird-houses has opened up a whole new world of ideas on how to make them ( luckily the rest of the family drinks much more alcohol than I do, so a quick phone call around will probably provide me with material to make many, many more ;) So, drink up, family members!

And if you're really not into birds, gardens or outdoorsy things at all, I've got another idea on what to do with your old wine boxes shortly!

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