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How to Build a Bluebird House Out of a Gourd

By M.H. Dyer ; Updated September 21, 2017

The bluebird population has been shrinking in the last 40 years, but the brightly colored little songbirds are returning in record numbers, thanks in large part to backyard birdwatchers. If you want to attract bluebirds to your garden, a dried gourd makes a perfect house, and the unusual shapes of the gourds will add an interesting element to your garden. You can purchase gourds, or, if you have space in your garden, you can grow your own.

Choose the gourd carefully and measure to be sure it's the right size. The diameter should be large enough for the bluebirds to turn around easily. Look for a gourd 6 to 10 inches in diameter.

Soak the gourd in a bucket of hot soapy water for about 30 minutes. Remove the gourd from the water and rinse it in clear water. Remove any outer skin that might be peeling and scrub the gourd until the skin is smooth.

Cut an entry hole in the gourd with a dremel tool or a hole saw. The hole should be 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. It should be placed in the upper part of the gourd so the bluebirds can jump down into the larger, round part, and so baby birds can’t fall out of the house. Be sure the hole isn’t tilted up, which would allow rainwater to enter the house.

Drill three or four small drainage holes in the bottom of the gourd and two or three holes near the top to provide air circulation. Add two more holes at the top for hanging.

Clean the inside of the gourd with a long-handled spoon. Make sure all seeds and pulp are removed. Rinse the gourd and make sure the drainage holes are clear of debris.

Allow the gourd to dry, then protect the outside with several coats of shellac or varnish. Let the shellac or varnish dry between each coat. Hang the bluebird house with a piece of wire.


Things You Will Need

  • Dried gourd
  • Bucket
  • Soapy water
  • Dremel tool or hole saw
  • Drill
  • Long-handled spoon
  • Shellac or varnish
  • Wire


  • If you are using fresh gourds from your garden, the gourd will need to be dried. Soak it in a bucket of water for 30 minutes and rinse it as directed. Then, put the gourd in a warm, dry location and leave it until it's completely dry, turning it occasionally so it will dry evenly. Depending on weather conditions and the size of the gourd, this can take up to six months.

About the Author


M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.