When I got a call from one of my long-time clients asking me to replace one of the many birdhouses in his back yard, I thought of four walls, a peaked roof, and a hole in the front with perhaps a perch underneath. I imagined he wanted a standard birdhouse, available in a kit at most craft or hobby stores. But he wanted more than a mere birdhouse; he wanted a bird condo, and it ended up being one of the more interesting and fun woodworking projects I've ever encountered.
This avian resort would accommodate up to 13 feathered families on 3 levels. I built it out of redwood so it would withstand the elements. Essentially, it was a set of 3 four-sided boxes stacked on top of each other. The first level had a tic-tac-toe-like grid inside, achieved with a series of cross-halving joints, which created 8 usuable cubicles (the middle one was inaccessible), with 2-inch entry holes drilled on opposite sides. A hole of this size allows smaller and medium-sized songbirds in, but keeps out the larger predatory birds such as crows and jays.
The second level was a smaller box with a single criss-cross divider creating 4 equally sized cubicles, and the top was a single penthouse. The floors of the top 2 levels served as the roofs for the bottom 2 levels, and each was beveled at the edges to facilitate drainage. And being redwood, it didn't really need any finish on it.
When it was all done, I installed it at the top of the 10-foot-tall galvanized steel pipe where the old one had sat. I hung out the Vacancy sign and it soon filled to capacity.
Posted by: Tony Green