I picked up a trio of birdhouses today; they'll also go up tomorrow. I can make my own easily enough, but I had a coupon that made these more economical to buy. They're of a size to attract tits to the garden - stop sniggering! Got dirty minds the lot o' youse! Anywho, there's something of a debate on painting and/or staining birdhouses. Some say do it, it makes them look pretty and can ensure that they're in keeping with the look of the garden. Others say don't do it, that you don't know what chemicals are in your paint or stain and that it might poison the birds.
I have my own line of reasoning on the matter, and that is that if you put a glass over the entry hole and draw round it, then only paint outside the line, you should minimise the likelihood of stuff getting on the bird. You should also refrain from painting the roof, as water on the roof might drip in through a gap in the wood, and don't paint over the baseplate. The baseplate has gaps around it to allow air in and to allow any water that gets in to drain away, protecting nestlings from drowning or suffocation. Painting this can occlude the gap and cause these problems. Finally, never paint or stain the inside of the birdhouse. This should remain largely dry in use, it may even pick up oil from the bird's feathers, so there is really no need to introduce chemicals into such an enclosed environment.
Lastly then, I've found out how foxes are getting into the garden. It's hard to see scale in a vertical photo, but this lot is six feet high!
Pics of the finished bench and the birdhouses in situ will appear either tomorrow or Tuesday. FSM knows what I'm gonna do about Steptoe's Yard...