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5 DIY Cardinal Bird House Plans You Can Make Today

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cardinal perched on bird house

When you’re building a birdhouse for cardinals, it’s essential that you keep in mind that they don’t like traditional birdhouses. They’ll feel too enclosed and won’t make it their home.

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing that you can do. These five DIY birdhouse plans have an open design that cardinals love and will dramatically increase your chances of having a cardinal come and visit for the year.

Even better, cardinals don’t migrate, so they’ll typically spend a full year using the same nest! Just keep in mind that when they do move on, they won’t come back, so it’s best to clean out the nest and potentially move it to a new location in your yard.

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The Top 5 DIY Cardinal Bird House Plans

1. Simple Open Cardinal Bird House

Materials: 1×8 – 6’ fence board, 1 ½” finish nails, exterior wood glue
Tools: Hammer, saw, sandpaper, measuring tape
Difficulty Level: Easy

This simple open cardinal birdhouse is everything that a cardinal is looking for when they’re trying to build a nest. Even better, you won’t need to spend much to build it. All you need are simple supplies and a single fence board.

The guide provides every measurement of each cut that you need to make, so it’s as easy as possible to build. The only thing we recommend that’s not on the list is to seal the birdhouse when you finish. This extra step will help ensure that your new cardinal birdhouse can handle all the elements day after day and year after year.


2. Nesting Ball Cardinal Bird House

Materials: Twine or yarn, balloon, glue, cornstarch, petroleum jelly, bird nesting material
Tools: None
Difficulty Level: Easy

If you’re looking for a creative bird’s nest to put in your backyard to attract cardinals, it’s hard to top this nesting ball bird house. It’s easy to make and has a natural appearance that enables it blend into just about any environment.

Just ensure that when you’re building it, there’s enough twine and other materials on the bottom for the cardinals to nest but enough open space along the top.

If the cardinal feels closed in, they won’t nest there no matter how much work you put in or where you place it.


3. Easy-to-Clean Cardinal Bird House

Materials: Wood (six pieces), sandpaper, wood glue, paint/stain
Tools: Bandsaw, angel, miter box, table saw, wood clamps, pencil, drill
Difficulty Level: Moderate

This is technically a DIY robin birdhouse, not one for cardinals. But these birds both use the same type of nest, so this house will do a great job of attracting either bird.

If you want to keep cardinals coming back year after year to your birdhouse, you will need to keep it clean between guests. Having a birdhouse that is easy to access and clean goes a long way in ensuring that you’ll do everything that you’re supposed to when the time comes.

That said, this definitely a challenging project to make. However, if you take your time and properly paint and seal it, you won’t have to make another one anytime soon.


4. Alternate Simple Open Cardinal Bird House

Materials: #8 2” deck screws, #8 3” deck screws, wood glue, sandpaper
Tools: Miter saw, screwdriver, drill, drill bits
Difficulty Level: Easy

This is a DIY “robin” nesting shelf, but both robins and cardinals use the same types of nests. So, while this house might attract a few robins, there’s also a good chance that it’ll bring a few cardinals to your yard.

If you want to push for a cardinal to come to your yard instead of a robin, try straightening out the roof instead of using a sloped design. A cardinal might come and build their nest inside, or they might simply put all their nesting materials right on the top so it feels even more open!

No matter what you do, paint it or stain it so it’ll last year after year.


5. Final Simple Open Cardinal Bird House

Materials: Fence board, exterior wood glue, 4d box nails
Tools: Crosscut or rip saw, tape measure, square, hammer, bar clamps
Difficulty Level: Easy

There’s probably no easier birdhouse to make than this nesting box. Even better, it has a few unique flares that help set it apart from other nesting boxes out there.

You will need a crosscut or a rip saw to do this project, but if you’re into woodworking, it’s well worth the initial investment. The best part of this birdhouse is that if you have the equipment to make the cuts, you can build the entire nesting box for less than $10!

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Frequently Asked Questions

When you’re getting ready to build your cardinal birdhouse, it’s only natural to have a few questions. We understand, and it’s why we wanted to address a few of the most common ones here.

Do Cardinals Reuse Birdhouses?

No. While cardinals don’t migrate, they typically only use their nest for about 1 year. Once they leave, they won’t return to it. However, if you’re trying to get the same cardinal to come back to your birdhouse, you might have luck by simply cleaning out the birdhouse and moving it to a new location in your yard.

How Much Space Does a Cardinal Need?

Cardinals need space to roam, but when it comes to their actual birdhouse, they’re not too picky. The more important thing is that it’s open, so they don’t feel trapped or closed in.

From there, they’ll spend most of the day flying around and protecting their territory, which can range anywhere from 0.5 to 6 acres!

northern cardinal on a bird house

Image Credit: GeorgiaLens, Pixabay

What Color Birdhouse Attracts Cardinals?

Yes, picking the color of your birdhouse can affect how effective it is. If you’re trying to attract a cardinal, paint the birdhouse red or pink, as this provides natural camouflage for them. You can also leave it a natural wood color. If you paint it blue, you’ll attract thrushes, doves, quail, and other types of birds.

Should You Paint or Stain a Birdhouse?

While you don’t have to paint or stain your birdhouse, we highly recommend it. Doing so is not only more appealing for birds, but it also adds a waterproofing element that will help the birdhouse stand up to the elements and last longer.

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Final Thoughts

Cardinals are among the most sought-after birds to attract to backyards. One of the most successful ways to get them to visit is to put up a birdhouse that looks like home to them.

Not just any birdhouse will do, but any of the DIY plans on this list here will make an outstanding choice. So, get your tools ready and get your cardinal birdhouse done today!


Featured Image Credit: Amy Doucette, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

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