Project Warming House

I need an indoor project when its cold outside. Last year, my indoor project was a pump house so large that I was barely able to extract it from my shop. I set my sites at a lower multiplier this year and went for what is basically a bird house, but for multiple birds. This is project warming house.

First off, a bird house should probably be installed prior to winter so the birds can locate it and set up shop. However, I wouldn’t let that stop me from setting up some low-income aviary housing even if it was mid-winter. The house I made is designed especially to provide quick shelter for chickadees. I always figure the smaller an animal is, the more protection it needs; this would be a worthwhile project.

The warming house is just a box, so I won’t drown this column in endless detail. I believe the plans were something I used from 4-H when I was young. The house is six inches wide square and nine inches tall, however make one side a little longer so you have something to drive a nail through and into a post or tree. My research has shown me that the size of the hole is pretty important; it keeps big birds out yet is inviting to the chickadees. That said, the hole was supposed to be 1 ¾ inches in diameter but the nearest hole bit I had was 1 5/8 so I allowed myself this much. This isn’t a house made for permanent residence so drill the hole at the bottom of the front façade. The purpose of a warming house is that several birds may gather and perch away from the wind. I made three internal perches by drilling holes about every two inches on each sidewall and offset the middle set to take advantage of every bit of space. I then used a small wooden dowel to span the area between the holes to create internal seating space. I used pine because redwood is expensive and protected the exterior with a little spray-on sealant.

Warming house in place, I believe a person should make a nice environment for it’s visitors. Lisa saves any fat drippings in a bowl which we then leave outside for suet. Uncle Larry made a simple feeder for us by drilling large holes into a branch which we fill with peanut butter. I clean corn for our stove and spread the gleanings for the pigeons and squirrels. We don’t own any expensive feeders as the three dollar plastic ones work great and leave us more money to purchase bird food. Thistle seed is horribly expensive but I’ve found the wreaths that are made from pressed thistle seed last a long time plus they include a hanger and so serve as their own feeder. They seem to be a much better deal than the long plastic tubes.

So there’s a good project that does good for others. I used to build so many of these when I was a kid that my brother thought I was doing it for therapy. You don’t have to be crazy to build a warming house, just crazy about birds.

7 thoughts on “Project Warming House

  1. I have wanted to build chickadee warming houses for years, but did not know how. I am not a woodworker – could you please explain how the perches look placed on the inside – perhaps a drawing so that I can visualize how to do it?

    Also, how many of these can I place in the yard? How close can they be spaced – I have a lot of chickadees and want them all to have enough space!

    Is it ok to stain the outside of the house?


    1. I draw poorly so a drawing won’t work. I did give directions on how to build the house in the text of the column however. I’m sorry if it wasn’t specific enough.

      I think you may want to consult the DNR or perhaps a local sanctuary as to the placement of the houses.

      I did not stain the outside of the house. I used a little marine spray-on sealer and that was it. I didn’t want to take the chance that the stain would be harmful but I did want to protect the wood.

      Hope this helps.


      1. I typed in”bird houses” an there was a page that came up with rough drawings on building bird houses and 1 warmer. If you type in http://www.50 you will get all kinds of ideas. But sadly the 1 warmer that I was looking for was not there. The warmer I was looking for had the whole front open with a trawel for a perch in front…I have the rough design, but do not know the height of the front opening..maybe you would have a rough idea as to how many inches (inch) I need to use…


    2. After reading several sights, and several “store” magazines (Audubon Workshop..seeds, grubs, anything for birds), they recommend the opening to be south or east. Think about it..the bad weather comes from the north and west.
      Hope this helps..


  2. I have a chickadee warming house with the specs indicated hole facing east – it has been in place for 2 years and I’ve never seen them use it. Any suggestions on why they aren’t using it?


    1. The only thing I have ever found to work with birds is consistent feeding. I’m sure your already doing that so maybe your birds already have enough natural nesting or gathering sites.


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