Here’s an idea for a decorative birdhouse that you can keep in the garden all year round. You can recycle an old birdhouse and add stones to it or use something with a similar shape and cover it with stones like the birdhouses you see here.
One thing that people often overlook is the difference between a birdhouse and a nesting box. Birdhouses like this garden art project are intended as decorations and are not built to house actual birds. If you wish to make a proper nesting box that it is safe for birds, please refer to these guidelines at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
When decorating a stone birdhouse, there are lots of possible design choices: consider the colour, texture and placement of the stones, and whether you also want to add little touches like window boxes, door frames, and so on. It’s best to establish the structures first, and then proceed with the decorating.
To ensure the stone birdhouse lasts a good long time, consider giving it a few coats of outdoor protection (such a polyurethane) to ensure it can handle rain and snow.
The instructions for these Stone Birdhouses plus 17 more garden art projects are all available in my new $3.99 eBook, Empress of Dirt Garden Art & Ideas.
Stone Birdhouse Supplies
The supplies should cost around $5 to $15 (US/CAD) including enough adhesive to make several of them.
I will show you products I like with links to my Amazon affiliates account but please, always check what you have on hand first before buying anything. Or borrow from a friend. There’s so many unused items sitting in people’s basements!
Begin At The End
Before you start, decide how you’d like the birdhouse to look. This Google search of stone birdhouses should give you lots of ideas.
Next, think about where you going to put the birdhouse and how it will be mounted. It’s much easier to prepare for this before you apply the stones than after.
I knew mine was going to be mounted on a tall 4″x4″ wooden post in the yard, so I attached the house to a 12″ x 12″ wooden base with 2″ edging first, and later attached this base to the post (when the house was all done).
Do yourself a favour and read the entire instructions before starting in case some fabulous brain wave comes by to make your project even better.
One wooden birdhouse
I bought mine at Michaels on sale for $4 US. Wood bird houses come in a variety of choices including stores, churches, lighthouses, and more. Just pick something without too many fussy details that would be difficult to work the stones around. You could also use a wooden bird feeder or a large coffee can with a hole drilled into the side for a bird door.
If you want it to last for years and years, you can’t use leave the wood untreated. Either prime and paint all of the wood first or use an outdoor wood protection product (available in any paint store). You probably have some leftover paint in storage that would do the trick.
Exterior grade Polyurethane
The finished bird house should be protected with outdoor polyurethane. You can use a brush-on or sray-on product such as Zar Ultra Fast Drying Polyurethane Spray. This is essential if you’re going to keep the stone birdhouse outside in wet weather.
I like GE Silicone II Household Glue, 2.8 oz and/or Weldbond Universal Adhesive or E6000. These products have improved considerably in recent years and work really well. Some are sold as ‘sealants’ but they do adhere as well. Decide whether you want to use a caulking gun or squeeze tube product. I choose the caulking gun because the adhesives are much less expensive in that format.
If you’re lucky you have access to free, small stones. Really smooth ones would look really snazzy. The trick is to find stone with at least one flat side for easy adhesion to the birdhouse. I get mine in small bags at the dollar store. The ones I used were about the size of a nickel or thumb nail. I can’t really suggest a quantity to buy because it completely depends on how big your birdhouse is and how much surface you will cover.
You could use:
- Twine glued onto the existing roof surface.
- A metal funnel.
- Cedar shingles for dollhouses.
- Cedar twigs.
- Copper leaf.
- Lightweight sheet metal for crafting cut to size.
- Pine cone leaf parts.
- Or simply paint the existing roof.
Acrylic Paint or Stain (optional)
I’ve made a few with twine roofs and painted the twine with copper-coloured acrylic paint and then sealed it with exterior grade polyurethane.
Mesh screen, bubble wrap, or poultry net (scraps, optional)
As mentioned, most commercial birdhouses are decorative and not intended (or safe) for birds to nest in them. Because of this, I suggest you block off the doors and windows with fine mesh screen. This way the wasps and bees won’t nest in there either.
Let’s Get This Party Started
Seal (or prime and paint) all of the wood surfaces.
As mentioned, you could use exterior polyurethane, Weldbond or some other type of wood sealer (e.g. leftover deck sealant). This will keep the wood from expanding and contracting in temperature changes and therefore prevent the stones from popping off. I didn’t bother sealing the inside of the house, just the outside. Just remember, the more anal you are with this part of the project, probably the longer your house will last. Allow to dry.
Adhere the stones with sealant or Weldbond.
Layout all of your stones on a flat surface and sort by colour if you intend to form any patterns with the colours. For example, you might want darker stones over windows or doors or around the base of the house to form an accent.
I apply the stones from the bottom up so that each new row of stones would rest on the one below while the adhesive is drying. I placed the stones really close together because I didn’t want to use grout to fill any gaps. If you end up with little weird gaps, just smash some stones to get smaller pieces to work with. (Smashing advice: place a few stones in a plastic bag and whack the bag with a hammer — do this on a hard surface outside somewhere and wear safety goggles if you are born under a bad sign. It doesn’t hurt to release any pent up angry thoughts while you’re at it.)
Complete the Roof.
I glued twine around the roof, starting from the top point, working my way down. You could use anything here — cedar scraps, buttons, copper leaf, twigs, metal funnels — whatever you have on hand. Or simply paint or stain the roof in a colour or texture that looks nice with the stone.
Let everything dry (follow advice on products you used).
Apply final weather protection.
Apply 3 coats of exterior grade polyurethane exterior grade polyurethane—following the instructions on the can. Usually it says to wait a few hours between coats, and to lightly sand before applying each coat but sanding stones and twine is not really feasible, so ignore that part. Dry between coats and allow final coat to dry throughly before setting up your birdhouse outdoors.
You’re donesville! Set it up, baby! There’s a zillion fun things you can do to make the stone birdhouse even more enchanting: you could use dollsize furniture or accessories to create a little scene around the house, add window boxes (just make them and glue them on), fake birds, weather resistant dolls in the same scale—anything!
You could also plant some grass seed or other low-growing plants around the base of the house. I did this for mine and it became a favourite resting spot for the mourning doves.
If you make one, I’d love to see a photo of it!