Birdhouse Gourd Birdhouses – Just In Time For Spring

So, first, I have to admit something.  This project took me two years.  Yes, two years.  I am usually going a million miles an hour, and slowing down to do creative things is something I often forget to do.  The funny thing is that I when I do finally slow down and spend some creative energy on a project, I always feel energized and renewed after completing the project.  In other words, creativity is good for the soul.

That being said, let’s talk about what a reasonable time line is for making birdhouse gourd birdhouses.  The gourds are planted in the late spring or early summer, when the soil is warm.  The gourds have zero frost tolerance, so they must be harvested in the early fall.  Next, the gourds need to cure in a dry, warm, well-ventilated area.  The gourds will mold slightly, change color (from green to brown), and cure a hard shell.  The curing process can take up to six months.  Once cured, the gourds need to be lightly scrubbed with steel wool and water, dried, and set aside.  The gourds are now ready to be drilled for the front entrance, wire hangers, and the “front porch” sticks for the birds to land on.  Next comes cleaning out the inside of the gourds, and painting them.  (Because birds are known to be sensitive to mold, and because the inside of my two year-old gourds seemed musty, I rinsed the inside of my gourds with a bleach solution).  This entire process should take less than one year, and you should have birdhouses to hang in the early spring.  See slide show below for images.

As I mentioned in the newsletter, there is growing evidence that a lack of nesting cavities is negatively impacting overall songbird populations.  If the birds can’t find a suitable nesting site, they simply don’t pair-up, mate, and raise young.  Competition in the natural world includes competing for habitat, and we seem to be low on nesting habitat for cavity nesters.  By placing a birdhouse in your yard (this works best if we all do this together), we can create additional habitat for songbirds, and support additional breeding pairs each season.  Songbirds can be quite territorial, so I’ve included a guide on hanging birdhouses in your yard.  The upshot is this – if you live on a standard urban or suburban lot, you can probably only accommodate one bird house.  If you place more than one birdhouse on your property, the birds may end up spending a ton of energy defending the nest, and less time feeding the baby birds.

I enjoyed this project so much that I intend to grow more gourds this summer, and make more birdhouses.  I already have two birdhouses I need to sell (I made three this round, and can only really accommodate one birdhouse on my lot), but I think I will still make more.  The birdhouses are so lovely, I enjoy making them, and they help the songbirds.  It’s just warm fuzzies all over.  🙂


2 Responses to Sustainability Experts Sound Off

  1. Tascha October 31, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    Christine – what a great question and diverse answers. I’d like to think that the shift in demand is an indicator, but as you know, most of the demand is still through our traditional food sources (big chain grocery with an organics line, fast food with healthier choices). Jury is still out on whether they are truly sourcing from sustainable ag. And as I look around Colorado Springs, yes we have great farmers markets and CSAs, but many of the farmers markets are selling right off the same trucks that come from Mexico to supply grocery stores.

    What I do see is that people are questioning more and more information is getting out there. I also think that as the economy starts to pick up again that more folks will allow their money to follow their values (spending a bit more in order to get sustainably grown food).

    • Christine October 31, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

      Ya’ know, I tend to agree with you, Malik and a few others that the most significant indication of a “shift” is the fact that people are talking about this. Folks are having real conversations about food, agriculture, sustainability, GMOS’s, organic, and humanely raised. This is new and radical, and in my mind it is moving our culture closer to a sustainable food system.

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