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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Birdhouses by the book

Rik Nelson Correspondent

Let us here remember Charles Schulz – now passed.

And Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and Snoopy. One wonders what’s become of them? Given the publishing residuals and merchandising deals provided by their creator, a pleasant retirement one would guess.

But what of that dear, sweet bird, Woodstock? Shouldn’t that plucky little spirit also receive his due? I think so.

Therefore, I’m pleased to announce, in cooperation with the Spokane AuduBon-Macy Society and local chapters of the Fine-Feathered Friends of the Library, the launch of the Leave No Bird Behind initiative.

Bird-brained scheme? No, it’s the lofty goal of Leave No Bird Behind to build a network of backyard bird libraries (birdhouses with books for roofs) throughout the Inland Northwest. This endeavor will provide both shelter and intellectual sustenance for our esteemed, winged neighbors. A tribute to, and legacy for, the likes of Woodstock.

To join Leave No Bird Behind, just build your own avian library. Here’s how:

•First, find some half-inch to three-quarter-inch plywood or other wood. You might want to reuse discarded wood which can readily be found in free wood stockpiles such as in Ziggy’s parking lots.

•For your library’s front and back walls, cut two pieces of wood 10” high by 7” wide. On each draw and cut the shape shown in the picture on the next page.

•On the front wall cut an entrance hole. Chickadees prefer a 1-1/8” hole, 6-8” off the floor. Nuthatches like the same height from the floor, but a 1-1/4”hole. Wrens are keen on a 1” to 1-1/2” hole, 4-6” off the floor.

•Next, cut 6-1/2” high by 4” wide side walls. On one wall drill three quarter-inch vent holes a half inch from the top.

•Align a side wall behind the front wall and nail it in place. (To avoid splitting the wood, drill holes before nailing.) Attach the other side wall, then the back wall.

For cost-effective wall “siding” consider using recycled soda or beer cans. A utility knife works well to cut off a can’s top and bottom. The aluminum can then be cut to size with scissors.

You may want to cut strips of aluminum to sheath your library clapboard-style or simply “collage” different can pieces into a design. Whatever approach you choose, it’s helpful to hold the aluminum temporarily in place with double-sided tape then secure it permanently using half-inch wire nails or carpet tacks.

•After the walls are done, trace around their base and cut a floor the same size or slightly larger. Drill two drainage holes and paint the floor. You can get free paint and stain at any of the Spokane Regional Solid Waste System recycling facilities. When the paint’s dry, attach the floor with one screw at the front, one at the rear.

Conventional wisdom advises, “Don’t judge a book by looking at the cover.” But for your library roof, you certainly should. Choose a book approximately 9” tall by 6” wide and about an inch or less thick.

Inexpensive books can be found at yard sales, thrift stores, and church bazaars — maybe even for free in some relative’s garage or basement. (Who knows, you might even find one to read!)

•Once you’ve selected a book/roof, place it on top of the library. Let it overhang a little more in front than in back. Lift the cover, drill holes right through the pages to the front and back walls, and secure with flathead screws.

•At the peak of the roof, front and back, fasten screw hooks. To them, connect a chain or wire and attach to a tree limb.

Your branch library is now open for business. Viva la Woodstock!