"Birdhouses You Can Build in a Day" by the Editors of Popular Woodworking Books, 2004, F&W Publications, $24.99, softbound, 128 pages: In addition to the 40-plus birdhouses outlined in this book are plans for a bat house, a butterfly house, bird baths and various feeders. The birdhouses are each meant for a specific type of bird, found in North America, Europe, Australia or South America.
There is also a "House Specifications" chart to help you modify instructions. The editors advise reading the "Constructions Notes" before beginning any of the projects.
After the "Construction Notes," the editors go over attracting birds, butterflies and bats by means other than the houses. For example, bats prefer roosting within a quarter mile of water and in areas with mixed vegetation. Butterflies may be attracted by nectar feeders or a variety of plants, such as salvia, jewelweed and clover.
However, the editors warn not to use insecticides near butterfly plants or feeders.
Birds also are attracted by a number of plants, including maple, oak and pine trees, wax myrtle and clover. Dead, dying and hollow trees also make excellent homes for not only birds but mammals and amphibians.
Next are given house specifications for different species, from the American kestrel to barred owls, purple martins and tufted titmice. The vital statistics are also given for the bird species: size of bird, the number of eggs they lay and the broods per season, as well as the length of incubation, diet and range.
The projects in this book are inventive and clever. The kestrel house resembles a little church. The ash-throated flycatcher’s house is, for good reasons, called a "desert villa," and the butterfly house look somewhat like a lighthouse.
There are two types of Eastern bluebird house which are fashioned out of cedar, which requires no finish. The editors say that one may actually make two or three of them in an hour’s time.
Even birds who refuse to nest in houses get some attention here.
The California towhee gets a simple lattice-like platform; the barn swallow’s platform resembles, of course, a barn; and the American tree sparrow’s platform is a lovely gazebo-like structure. Perhaps the most unusual house is the icosahedron wren house, which has 20 sides and dangles from a string.
Lee’s take: Imaginative.
J.J.’s take: Good for various skill levels.
LEE AND J.J. MACFADDEN are twins and voracious readers living in Bristol, Tenn. E-mail them at email@example.com.