Help Backyard Birds Beat the Heat

A bird with a red head sitting on a tree branch.

On a local news station last week, I saw a segment regarding how animals in the wild cope with extreme temperatures. I learned that some find it best to hibernate and wait out the heat. Some radiate the heat through parts of their bodies (elephants, for instance, do this with their ears), and some unable to otherwise cope biologically, dip themselves in cool water to lower body temperature (birds, for example).

In the city, we don’t get a wide variety of wildlife, though birds are everywhere and they play a pivotal role in the vitality and welfare of a backyard ecosystem. Therefore, we must protect them and aid in their survival during high temperatures the best we can. This article will detail some things that can be done to make the lives of these animals a bit easier. Thankfully, as DIYs they are simplistic and can be done in a weekend's time!

Create Cover

A birdhouse.

In the hot days of summer, birds love to sit in the cool shade of a tree. Unfortunately, some backyards are without trees or they lack the ability to provide ample amounts needed. As crafters, we can easily make places of cool hideaway. Here's how to do it!

What you’ll need:

  • 4 pieces of 1x6 wood
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • 1 metal corkscrew hook
  • Rope

I adoringly call this DIY the “halfway house” because it's essentially half of a traditional birdhouse. Though square, the house isn't enclosed. It's simply enough structure to provide shade and a place for wildlife to sit, but it's not intended for nesting.

Step 1 - Cut the Wood

For this project, cut the four pieces of wood: the first 5 ½ inches, the second 6 ¼ inches and two more 9 inches and 8 ¼ inches.

Step 2 - Fasten the Pieces

Using nails, adhere the first two boards (5 ½” and 6 ¼”) in an overlapping manner so they together form a “V” shape. Do the same with your longer boards and again using nails. This set of boards will form the house's roof. Then, nail both halves together so the combination creates a simple squared structure.

Step 3 - Hang your House

This is the fun part: place the hook at the top of the house and with the help of a rope, hang it from a shade-less tree. Now your yard's birds can rest in the cool provided by your handiwork.


A bird sitting on the edge of a birdbath.

As mentioned, birds cool off from the heat by dipping themselves in water, and when I think of birds in water, I of course first think of a backyard birdbath. When purchased from a big box store, this product can run anywhere from $30 to over $100 dollars. As DIYers, we can make this ourselves and with our own design.

What you’ll need:

  • 3 PVC pipes
  • 1 basin or shallow bowl
  • Hammer
  • Exterior paint
  • Glue

Before beginning the creation of a birdbath, one must first determine the best location to place the project. As discussed above, birds love and crave shade on hot summer days, so it should be placed in a location with a lot of natural covering, ideally by trees.

Step 1 - Legs

Once placement has been determined, begin your build by pounding the 3 pipes into the ground in a triangular formation. As the ideal height of a birdbath is 3 to 4 feet off the ground, hammer the pipes into the ground accordingly. Use a level to ensure the height above ground is universal for all 3. Depending on your desired look, paint the pipes in this step if you so desire.

Step 2 - Basin Placement

Although most DIY birdbath tutorials suggest you simply rest a basin or bowl on top of the legs, I have seen how often the bowl will then get knocked down. Therefore, I recommend putting some industrial grade glue on the bottom of the bowl and allowing it to dry before use.

Step 3 - Water and Décor

Now that the bath itself is set up, simply add water. Birds to love to sit and preen on rocks and individual elements, so given one has the space, add them!