Wren House Project

Using a license plate as the roof

License Plate Roof Wren HouseIt seems like we all have one or two license plates in the darkest corner of the garage. Why not do something creative with it? This article was also featured in the Dec/Jan 2010 issue of Birds & Blooms magazine.

This cute little house is perfect for wrens, sparrows and other small birds that don't mind their birdhouse swinging with the breeze.

If you have trouble getting birds to nest in a hanging birdhouse, you might want to try mounting it to a post if possible. Some birds just don't like their nests to move with the wind. Frankly, I don't blame them one bit!

What you will need:

  • 2 - pieces of pine measuring 3/4" thick x 4-1/2" wide x 4-1/2" long
  • 1 - piece of thin wood or plywood measuring 1/2" thick x 4-1/4" wide x 4" long
  • 1 - piece of thin wood or plywood measuring 1/2" thick x 4" wide x 4" long
  • 1 - piece of pine wood measuring 3/4" thick x 3/4" wide x 7" long
  • 1 - license plate
  • 12 - 1/4" brad nails or small siding nails
  • 4 - 1" pan head screws or 1" roofing nails
  • 2 - 1/4" screw eyes
  • 1 - piece of chain measuring 12" long
  • Wood glue
  • 1/4" drill bit
  • 1/8" drill bit
  • 1-1/8" hole saw
  • Primer (Optional)
  • Outdoor Acrylic Paint (Optional)

Recommended Tools:

  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Needle Nose Pliers

This is a great little house you can build from small pieces of scrap wood as none of the pieces are that big. It's also a great way to recycle any old license plates you may have lying around the house. For this example, we've used pine, but you can use any untreated lumber.

Click on the images below to get a larger image suitable for printing.

Back of Birdhouse

Front of Birdhouse


  1. Cut two pieces of 3/4" thick pine into a square that measures 4-1/2" x 4-1/2". These will be the front and back of the birdhouse.
  2. Take a ruler and mark off a 3/4" x 3/4" square on one of the corners of each block of wood. Use a small hand saw to cut these corners out.
  3. With the notched out corner at the top, use the 1/4" drill bit to drill two air holes, about an inch apart, just under the notched out portion on one of the blocks of wood. This will be the back of the birdhouse.
  4. On the other block of wood, measure approximately 2-1/2" down from the notch. This will be where you will drill the entrance hole using a 1-1/8" hole saw.
  5. Taking a piece of 1/2" thick wood, cut two pieces. One that is 4-1/4" wide x 4" long and one that is 4" wide x 4" long.
  6. Wren HousePlace the back of the birdhouse, which contains the air holes, flat on your work surface, and place a small bead of glue along the two bottom edges. Attach the thinner pieces of wood, finishing off the piece with the front of the birdhouse containing the entrance hole.
  7. After the glue has had time to set up, you can hammer in some brad nails. Four on each side should secure it nicely.
  8. Take the 3/4" x 3/4" x 7" long piece of wood and center it over the notched out corners. This will be a support for the roof as well as a place to put the screw eyes for hanging.
  9. Secure this piece with a little wood glue and a couple of nails on each side.
  10. Once the glue is completely dry, you can prime and paint your bird house. Just be careful not to get any paint inside the bird house as it could be harmful to the birds.
  11. Find the center of your license plant and bend it to a 90 degree angle and center it over the roof support on the house.
  12. Using a pencil, mark where the holes of the license plate will be on the edge of the birdhouse. Pre-drill the holes for the pan-head screws or roofing nails. If you don't pre-drill, you run the risk of splitting the wood. If you don't have pan head screws, find a screw or nail that has a large enough head to secure the license plate you are using.
  13. Place the license plate back on top of the birdhouse and attach with the pan head screws using the holes you pre-drilled.
  14. About 1/2" from the edge of the roof support, attach a screw eye, one on each end. These screw eyes will hold the chain which you will use to hang your birdhouse.
  15. Using a pair of needle nose pliers, open a link at each end of the chain and attach it to the screw eyes. Now your birdhouse is ready to hang.

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