Birdhouse Gourd: Open for Nesting

After all the worry and fuss about drilling holes in my precious gourds, the first of two is open for nesting.  My resident handyman drilled a bird-sized hole on the front of the gourd, two small ones at the top for hanging, and drainage holes below.

dried birdhouse gourd

Birdhouse gourd: open for nesting

birdhouse gourd opening

Closeup: The opening should be the size of the bird you want to attract. We want to attract all the cute birds. That made it easy.

holes drilled in bottom of gourd

Tiny holes in the bottom allow for air circulation and drainage. Nesting is a messy business.

It’s amazing  how soft it is inside, almost like downy wool. I wasn’t expecting that. The walls of the gourd are thick and sturdy. It’s no wonder a bird might call this home.

I threaded a piece of florist wire through the top and I’m having fun hanging it from various trees. We’re months away from nesting season, but I’m glad to have one ready to go.

Several of our trees are deciduous, so they won’t provide adequate protection for a nest, but I do have a couple of ideas.  Our orange tree is fairly dense and in fact, houses a large nest from a few years back. The Star Jasmin vine in our side yard is another possibility. It’s so dense you can’t see to the center.

Mama birds know best, so all I can do is provide the medium and hope she likes it. Maybe I’ll write her a little note that says ‘pick me! pick me!’ and leave it on a branch nearby.

dried birdhouse gourd

Mama Bird Wanted: Inquire Within

In the meantime, I’ll hang the beautiful gourd in plain view. As nesting season draws near, I’ll tuck it away in a  tall, densely foliaged tree with hope in my heart while listening for the song of baby birds.

Do you have nests in the trees nearby?  Do you offer nesting material for your feathered neighbors?  Photos also welcome in the comment section below.

cat and seeds

Hmmmm…they do look a bit like cat treats.

birdhouse gourd seeds and gourd wall

This shows the thickness of the dried gourd. Bonus: look at all those dried seeds from inside.

18 thoughts on “Birdhouse Gourd: Open for Nesting

  1. Oh, that is so fabulous – and another new idea for me! I do hope mama bird picks your gourd. I can’t wait to hear and see what happens. I have so many questions …..Do you have to keep it dry or can it withstand the storms of Spring? Will you put it out before nesting so the birds get used to seeing it? I’m wondering if it’s first come first served – or will you interview prospective tenants?

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    • LOL. There will be no interviewing. I’ll take it as a compliment of the highest order if any mama bird deems it worthy.

      Yes, I’ll leave it outside and will probably locate it in January, well before nesting season so it’s available to the shoppers. I read up on the gourd’s care over a year ago, so let me go find a link and report back.

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      • I’m fascinated by the fact that the height from the ground dictates which birds will use it – and no robins or barn swallows or phoebes [whom I am not familiar with] for your gourd.

        Personally I wouldn’t polyurethane the gourd – that stuff gives off poisonous gases that could harm the birds, even out doors….. there are nice ‘green’ alternatives now.

        Next time I see a gourd for sale I shall pur-chase me one – sometimes the farmers market has them or the boho home stores and I’m pretty sure I once saw some in the organic shop…..

        Thank you for linking me to all that info Alys, and do keep us informed of your progress with this wee project. 🙂

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        • Thanks, Pauline. I’m fascinated too. It makes sense once you read the height requirements, in some cases quite tall. Tiny birds need to maximize their chance of survival.

          I agree with you 100% on the polyurethane. And you know, given how thick and sturdy it is, and the minimal rain and ‘weather’ we get, I’ve decided to just leave it as is. I’ll place it high in the orange tree and will hope for the best. I can always grow more or as you say buy one.

          Stay tuned.

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  2. Wonderful idea!! I love the close up shots of the outside. I know nothing about gourds so am wondering what makes the dots of color (I fear I am going to be embarrassed by the answer to that question).
    I love that you want to attract all the “cute birds”.
    What bird wouldn’t want to nest here?

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    • Thanks, LB. It has been a fun project and worth the wait.

      All questions welcome here, no embarrassment allowed. 🙂

      The spots are part of the decaying process. Unfortunately, some gourds continue that path and simply rot through. I don’t know how I got so lucky. I had several small gourds that grew and rotted on the vine. Only two made it to this size, and both dried successfully over several months in my home. One did start to mold on the surface, but I quickly wiped it down with a damp cloth, dried it well, then placed it bottom side up resting in an indoor ficus to allow air circulation and all was well. One of my boys finally asked the question: “Mom…is that supposed to be there.” Giggle.

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  3. I grew birdhouse gourds and made nests for a couple of years. Love them, and they make great gifts. I love their whimsical look in the garden, though I must say I didn’t have much luck with birds actually nesting in them. I probably didn’t have them in dense enough foliage — good thinking! I am a little gun shy with respect to bird houses these days, since I watched a very determined wren couple nest in a sturdy cedar house hanging right outside my kitchen window this summer, mesmerized by their minute to minute feeding regimen once the babies hatched, only to look out one morning to find a snake draped on the house with a big bulge in the middle of its body, the baby birds clearly swallowed. Blogged about this a few months ago — traumatizing to say the least! Good luck with your gourds — they have definite curb appeal!

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    • Martha, what a sad end to your nesting story. I would be traumatized too. I know its part of nature, but not something you want to see up close, especially after you’ve invited nature to your doorstep.

      We have several mourning doves nest nearby, only to have the crows gather up the eggs within days.

      We did have one happy nesting story in a hanging basket outside our bedroom door. A mourning dove raised a pair from eggs to fledged, undisturbed. It was precious to watch.

      I should go read your snake post, but I’m not sure I have the courage.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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    • Oh, I hope you’re right, Marlene. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

      I’m seen several of these gourds painted in stunning ways, but I think leaving it in these muted colors will allow it to blend in with the surroundings. Stay tuned.

      I wish I could hear you giggle. Laughter is music to the ears.

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  4. I’ve got the biggest smile on my face……SUCCESS! You’ve grown a precious little birdie home 😀 You have a gorgeous garden with fresh water and lots of hiding places, heck I’d live there if I was small enough. The seeds are really odd looking. Will you save and replant them? I adore your carpet too…yummy colours ! (hi Mousie-poo) xoK

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    • Yeah! I like your smile.

      I have a plan for planting the gourds next year, using Mac’s old teepee poles and a section of lawn out back. I was going to do it this year, but we had so many indoor projects going on (painting, new flooring, ceiling fans) not to mention that ridiculous heat wave in early April that drove me indoors that I didn’t get around to it. I’m going to make a planting calendar this year, rather that planting willy-nillly.

      And yes, strange little seeds, aren’t they with the squared off top. So cute watching mouse dip his little nose into them. xox

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  5. Pingback: Reclaimed Fences, Birdhouse Charm | gardeningnirvana

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