Basic bird houses can be predictable, but a lot of unusual objects can be transformed into unique bird residences. Upcycle any teapot into a rustic bird house with this easy project.
Choose Your Teapot
Do you have a favorite teapot or old coffeepot that just can't be used to brew beverages anymore? Even if the pot is chipped, cracked or missing parts, it can be successfully turned into a quaint bird house. The teapot can be made from any material including porcelain, ceramic, tin or aluminum, and any standard size is suitable to become a bird house – small miniature or decorative pots, however, will not have sufficient space for most birds to safely use without smothering.
Pots with large, wide lids can work as nesting shelves for larger birds such as robins or starlings, while pots with smaller lids are perfect for smaller cavity-nesting species such as chickadees, tits and wrens. Check local thrift stores or resale shops for suitable pots, and don't limit the search to teapots – old coffeepots or oilcans can also make great bird houses.
Prepare the Teapot
Before turning it into a bird house, a teapot must be thoroughly cleaned so there are no dangerous chemicals or deposits on the interior that could threaten brooding adults or recently hatched chicks. Soak the inside of the pot with a strong vinegar solution for several hours and rinse it thoroughly, then rinse it again with a weak bleach solution so it is properly sterilized. Rinse the pot a final time with plain, clean water and dry it thoroughly, and it will be ready to create a bird house.
Remove the pot's lid and spout cover if it has one. If the spout is quite wide, a small patch of self-adhesive mesh, such as the type used to repair window screens, should be mounted over the interior of the spout to provide a base for birds to build a nest and protect against hatchlings becoming stuck in the spout.
A hole must be drilled in the bottom of the pot so it can be properly mounted. While punching holes in metal pots is simple, it takes more care to drill into a ceramic or porcelain pot without cracking it. Wet the area to be drilled slightly, and use a hand drill for greater control; a power drill is more likely to damage the pot.
If a smaller entrance is desired, use silicone gel to attach the pot's lid at an angle with the opening facing down, leaving enough space for agile birds to enter. Not only will this keep larger, more aggressive birds out of the house, but it will also help shelter the opening from sun, wind or rain.
Mounting the House
The best way to mount a teapot bird house is to place the base against a tree or wooden pole using a nail or screw through the drilled hole. Position the spout to be "pouring" down, which will serve as natural drainage under the nest inside the pot. These houses look particularly quaint when mounted among dense greenery such as on an ivy-covered wall, and the greenery also serves as camouflage to keep the nest protected. The handle of the pot will be on top and serves as a perch for adult birds but is not as useful for predators trying to access the nest. For further protection, mount baffles above and below the house, and if the pot is metal, it can be helpful to mount a roof above the house to help keep it cooler in summer heat. A simple roof can be a slab of wood or a pair of shingles.
If the house has a wide enough handle, it can be used to hang the house from a hook or branch. This may make the house less attractive to birds, however, as very few species are willing to nest in bird houses that sway or swing. A heavy pot isn't as likely to swing, however, and could be hung successfully. If it is to be hung, there is no need to drill into the bottom of the pot for mounting.
For a decorative touch, adding a strand of beads to "drip" from the spout gives the house a bit of sparkle. To make it more sparkling for birds, however, don't forget to supply nesting materials nearby to encourage birds to take up residence.
Cleaning a Teapot House
All bird houses must be cleaned after nesting to eliminate any mites or other parasites that could infect future broods. While these infestations are less likely in the impervious material of a metal or ceramic teapot bird house, cleaning is still necessary. After the birds have left, remove the old nest and wash the house with a weak bleach solution, allowing it to thoroughly dry before remounting. When cleaning, be sure the interior mesh is still secure and replace the patch as necessary so it is safe for the next nest.
It is easy to recycle an old teapot or coffeepot into a quaint, unique bird house, and the birds will thank you for such helpful accommodations.
Photo – Old Teapot © eLLen