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There are a few basic things to keep in mind when building any birdhouse. First, a roofline that overhangs the entrance by 1-2" will help keep rain out of the nest. It will also make it harder for predators to attack resident birds.
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The wood should be untreated and at least " thick. Cedar, white pine, and exterior grade plywood are suitable. Cedar's natural resistance to pests and weather make it ideal. Also, unless you are building a Purple Martin house, leave the house unpainted. The more natural the birdhouse looks, the better.
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Use exterior wood screws to fasten the wood. Wood shrinks and expands with the seasons, so nails will eventually work loose.
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Old nests can harbor harmful bacteria and parasites, so remove them every year. A hinged or removable wall or roof is essential to facilitate cleaning. Once the nest is removed, clean the birdhouse interior with a medium strength solution of bleach and water.
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Attaching hardware cloth to or scoring the inside of the entrance wall makes it easier for the birds to enter and exit the birdhouse.
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If water enters the birdhouse, it must escape. A few " drainage holes in the floor allow water to escape. Ventilation holes are also necessary. Drill two " holes at the top of the walls, or leave a narrow space between the top of the walls and the roof.