Project For
Carleton University

Third Year (2019)

Key Focus
  • Design Semantics
  • Research
  • User Centered Design
  • Manufacturability
  • Solidworks
Project Length
8 weeks
“A birdhouse that combines functionality, for both birds and humans, and unique aesthetics”.

The objective of this project was to create a birdhouse for a specific species of bird. We were required to research that bird to find their nesting preferences as well as consider possible human interactions such as cleaning or observation. Additionally we had to aesthetics to make the birdhouse both functional and a visually unique and appealing design. Finally, we had to consider how the birdhouse would be manufactured and create general arrangement drawings.

01 Research

About the Chickadee



Can be identified by the distinctive black cap on their head and their small stature.


They feed on insects and seeds, rarely staying at the source to eat, instead quickly grabbing food then flying to a different location to consume.


A cavity nesting bird found year round in the mid to northern United States and the mid to southern regions of Canada. These agile birds can perch sideways or upside down in trees and live in forested areas, however they can also be found in an urban setting provided there is plentiful tree coverage.


Most chickadees nest mid April to mid June but some can start in early April and end late July. Chickadees nest in pairs, typically in holes found in trees or birdhouses. Once they have mated the female lays around 10 eggs. Chicks hatch 13 or 14 days after the eggs are laid and the young birds are ready to leave the nest within 16 - 17 days. The parents will continue to feed the young for the following 2 to 3 weeks.

House Dimensions

The recommended height of the house is 8 inches and a square base of either 4 or 5 inches. The entrance hole is recommended to be 1 and 1/8 inches in diameter to allow the size of a full grown chickadee to fit but not allow larger predators or birds to enter the house. The hole is recommended to be anywhere from 4-6” above the floor.

House Requirements

It should be noted that since the birds like to eat away from their food source a feeder should not be included in the house. Additionally having an exterior perch could make it easier for predators to attack and is not recommended.

Slanted Overhanging Roof

This allows rain water to slide off the roof and the overhang prevents water from entering house.

Use Untreated Wood

This helps the house camouflage from predators and is safest for the birds, Ceder, Cyprus, Redwood or Pine work best.

Use 3/4” Thick Wood

This will provide insulation and keep the birds warm.

Place Wood Shavings or Sawdust Inside

Helps birds create a nest for their eggs and young, pet fur and string also helps.

Include Drainage Holes

This will help keep the bedding and floor dry, which also prevents the bottom from rotting.

02 Ideation

Mood Board

In this project we were encouraged to pick a theme for our bird house. Since the chickadee is a fairly small and vulnerable to predators I wanted my theme to be camouflage and the house to blend into its surroundings and confuse predators, protecting the chickadee and their young. Through my research of different natural camouflage methods I came across how animals use the patterns and layering as rocks to hide or blend in to. I decided I wanted my birdhouse to be a metaphor to rocks.

03 Construction

Due to the short timeline of this project I thought it would be faster to make the model if I made a frame out of foam-core and cover it in wood veneer to mimic the look of solid wood. In hindsight this was a very tedious project and it probably would have been faster to make the model out of solid wood, however I did get to experiment with wood veneer which could be advantageous if I am ever in a situation where I don’t have access to wood or a wood shop.

04 Final Model

05 Technical Drawings