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12 incredible and inspiring birdhouses

24 April 2014 ( 09 August 2022 )

From modern minimalist designs to whimsical creations that would be more at home in Middle Earth, each of these decorative bird boxes is sure to inspire anyone who has ever considered making their own nestbox.

London Fieldworks birdhouse
Patterned after Benito Mussolini's palace in Rome, the style of this birdhouse is inspired by Mike Hansell's book Built by Animals. It is made from untreated spruce ply and can be found in King's Wood, Kent.

In Birdhouses of the World, author Anne Schmauss collects over forty fun and funky designer bird boxes from every corner of the globe. From delicately discreet hideaways designed to fit in with the natural environment, to enormous treetop castles capable of housing a whole flock, each of these captivating nestboxes demonstrates that functional structures needn’t be boring.

Schmauss also meets the creators of these bird boxes – men and women inspired to build these intricate little houses. Some are artists interested in turning an everyday object into a sculptural piece, others are builders, blacksmiths or carpenters looking to bring some fun into the functional. Materials are painstakingly sought, often salvaged, and many houses can take weeks to build – the larger ones can even take years.

Birdhouses of the World by Anne Schmauss, published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang.

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Mitch Erceg, the 'Birdhouse King'

Mitch Erceg, also known as the 'Birdhouse King', is a 90 year old carpenter who builds birdhouses by layering different woods. This birdhouse uses a sassafras log as the main body with English yew scalloping and a front face made from box elder. It is decorated with a thika pod from Kenya.

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Extreme Birdhouses

John Looser made a living building houses for people until an injury in 2005. Since then he has kept busy with his company Extreme Birdhouses. This enormous birdhouse is made from hundred-year-old reclaimed barn wood.

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Dambo's Trash Tree

Thomas Winther, also known as Dambo, created this vibrant collection of birdhouses known as 'Trash Tree' in Copenhagen using recycled materials. His street art can now be found around the world.

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Roundhouse Works

Ted Freeman runs Roundhouse Works in Lawrence, Kansas, using reclaimed materials - mostly old wood from barns and outbuildings. This 'Flower' design is one of his his most popular birdhouses.

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Lorenzo Padilla

Lorenzo Padilla has been fascinated by architecture since his childhood but could not afford architecture school. In the early 90s he started to build birdhouses as a hobby and has since launched a successful business using reclaimed and recycled materials to build exquisite birdhouses.

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Crooked Creations

Al Mowrer works in construction and finds many of his materials on work sites or at the side of the road. His work is inspired by nature and fantasy and he works with no plans, creating these unusual designs from scratch as he builds. Although beautiful to look at Mowrer admits that "birds are frightened to death of them."

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Tools Design

Designed by Tools Design, this elegant nest box is made from earthenware – making it very easy to clean. The smooth surface also makes it impossible for predators such as cats or squirrels to hold on to, reflects the sun’s heat and can survive freezing temperatures - making it as practical as it is beautiful.

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The Scream

After finding a woodpecker hole in a dead tree he had felled, blacksmith Anthony Cateaux decided he had to replace the nesting site. Using the reclaimed log he then spent two weeks crafting this beautiful copper casing inspired by Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

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Winestone Birdhouses

Artist Layla Coats has been building ornamental nest boxes since 2008. She uses found objects that she picks up on travels around the Pacific Northwest, such as beautiful stones, wine corks, bullet casings and beads.

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The Ralph

A chance meeting at a charity auction between architect Dail Dixon and birdbox enthusiast Nathan Wieler led to the creation of Modern Birdhouses. This 'Ralph' birdhouse is inspired by Ralph Rapson's 1945 Greenbelt House and uses sustainably harvested wood and sandblasted aluminium.

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The Nut Birdhouse

The Nut Birdhouse, created by J Schatz Ceramic Products, is designed to attract bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches and titmice. The ceramic stoneware is easy to clean and can withstand temperature extremes.

Tips for building your own birdhouse:

  • Ventilation: make sure there is room for air to circulate and heat to escape by providing gaps between the roof and body.
  • Access: a perch is not necessary. Nesting birds do not need them and they can make it easier for larger predatory birds to get to eggs and chicks.
  • Drainage: a functional birdhouse should have small holes in the bottom for waste material and water.
  • Ladder: a ladder on the inside will allow chicks to leave the nest. This can be made by attaching chicken wire to the inside.
  • Hole: the size of the hole will depend on the bird you want to attract. Some species, such as robins, prefer an open box.
  • Roof: the roof should be pitched to allow water to drain away. There should also be an overhang to prevent water getting into the nest box.
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