Building a birdhouse is a lot of fun, particularly if you’re doing it with children. But you need to be careful about the type of wood you are using. So, is plywood safe for birds?
As a general rule, plywood is safe for outdoor bird use such as bird houses or other bird structures. The formaldehyde gases in plywood are minimal by the time it reaches suppliers. However it should be avoided for indoor pet bird toys or perches as the birds often chew on them.
It’s important to choose the materials you are using when building a birdhouse carefully. The last thing you want to do is unintentionally make the birds sick. To help you do this, let’s take a closer look at whether or not plywood is a good choice.
What Type of Glue is Used in Plywood?
One of the biggest concerns when using plywood is the type of glue that is being used. This will determine whether or not it’s safe for birds to use. The glue is used to get the wood layers to stick together.
There are a few types of glue that can be used. However, the most common is formaldehyde. As we’ll discuss later, this can raise a few health concerns. Sometimes, there will be other glues that can be used in combination.
For example, it’s common for Melamine to be used. This will strengthen the wood, so it lasts for a long time. This will make the plywood better equipped to handle rough weather. It can also be used to get a glossier exterior.
Another common material is Phenolic glue. This is common in the construction industry, allowing the plywood to get waterproofed. It will also ensure that the plywood becomes rigid when it is set.
Is Formaldehyde Safe For Birds?
As we’ve seen, most plywood boards will be made using formaldehyde. Over time, this chemical will be released into the air. So, what effects could this be having on birds?
There are a few possible effects of formaldehyde. One of the most significant is the risk of skin irritation. Over prolonged exposure, it could mimic the effects of an allergic reaction. It’s also possible that it might irritate the eyes and nose.
Another concern is what happens to the lungs when exposed to formaldehyde. Some animals can have a lower respiration rate. If the birds start to eat the plywood, it can prove to be toxic. Because of this, you shouldn’t put plywood inside the cage, where the bird might eat it. However, it’s unlikely that this chemical will interfere with reproduction or cause birth defects.
It should also be noted that the formaldehyde emissions will be closely monitored in plywood. This is due to the new government standards, which seek to limit emissions.
To try to make the plywood as safe as possible, there are a few precautions you can take if you are overly sensitive. First, put it in a room that has a lot of ventilation. This will give any formaldehyde fumes a chance to disperse. You can check the amount of chemicals in the air by measuring for VOCs. You should be able to get a test kit in a hardware store. As the plywood gets older, the amount of formaldehyde getting released will start to decrease.
You should try to prevent the birds from eating the wood, which will give them a higher dose of chemicals. As we mentioned, plywood will not be suitable to use as a perch. We’ll discuss some alternate woods you can use later. If you do this, it’s unlikely that your bird will get sick from plywood.
Can You Get Formaldehyde-Free Plywood?
As we’ve seen, there are a few problems with using plywood that is glued with formaldehyde. If you are concerned about the use of these chemicals, you can look into using formaldehyde-free plywood.
Though you might need to seek these out, there are a few alternatives available. For example, you might be able to use soy glue. This is more environmentally friendly. This type of glue won’t produce any emissions.
Precautions For Working With Plywood?
If you have decided to use plywood to build a birdhouse, there are always the few standard precautions you should take.
One of the most important things that you’ll need to do is use a mask. This will ensure that you aren’t breathing in any particles. This dust can cause some mild irritation to your nose and lungs. If you have asthma, it might be enough to trigger an attack. If you’re indoors, you might want to use a vacuum to suck up any remaining dust.
You might also want to think about wearing some safety goggles and when cutting plywood. This will ensure that you don’t get dust in your eyes. Other than these measures, you can treat plywood the same way you would any other building material.
Finally, if you are cutting the boards inside, you’ll need to have plenty of ventilation if you or anyone else are sensitive to dust particles. As mentioned above most of the gases are dispersed by the time it gets to the supplier or local retailer. Again if you are anyone in your household are sensitive to odors you can crack open a window and it will allow the little gases to disperse.
Can You Use Plywood For An Outdoor Birdhouse?
When used outside, the gases should dissipate on their own. If you are concerned, try to use older materials. These will produce lower gas emissions than a brand-new piece of plywood.
I have made plenty of birdhouses and duck houses for around our little lake and have never had any issues. You can always use a different natural rot resistant wood like Cedar instead. We have designed many different character birdhouse patterns and plans that are perfect for Cedar but if you had some scrap plywood laying around you could use this too.
If you do want to use plywood to make the birdhouse, you’ll need to get an exterior-grade variety. These have been built to withstand the tough weather conditions. It will be able to resist moisture damage and any temperature variations. Because of this, the birdhouse will be durable and should last for a long time.
Other Wood Can You Use To Make a Birdhouse?
As we’ve seen, some people have some concerns about using plywood when building a birdhouse. Because of this, you might want to use an alternative. This will eliminate any risk of harming the birds. The good news is that there are lots of types of timber for you to choose from.
One of the most popular options is cedar. This is a sturdy material, which should provide lots of protection from the wind and rain.
Wood Used For Birdhouses:
- White Cedar
When choosing your wood, it’s important to get something that is untreated. This ensures that it hasn’t been affected by any harmful chemicals. You’ll then need to be careful about the stain and paint that you choose to apply. These have the potential to contain potentially dangerous chemicals.
Whether or not plywood is safe will depend on the type of glue it contains. Most plywood boards will be made with glue that contains chemicals, like formaldehyde. It will produce gases. If the birdhouse is placed inside, these can build-up. If outside, the gases will disperse. However, there is still the risk that the birds will eat the plywood, ingesting the chemicals. Because of this, it will be safer to use a different type of wood when building a birdhouse.