Coconut Hut | A Home for Birds & Creatures
Coconut Hut | A Home for Birds & Creatures
Hello. My name is Chelsea and I am a volunteer at a nonprofit parrot rescue in Thousand Palms, California. My job here allows me to work with small parrots such as senegals, lovebirds, cockatiels, and conures.
This tutorial will help you make a small shelter for a small bird out of coconut, coir, wood and a little time.
If you would like to donate your coconut hut to a needy parrot, click "I made it" here then send your creation to:
The Landing Zone Parrot Sanctuary,
31800 Via Las Palmas, Thousand Palms CA 92276
Thank you for checking out this tutorial, I hope you find it helpful!
Collect Tools & Items
For this project I used the following tools and Items:
- Safety glasses
- Dremel 200 with a cut off wheel accessory
- Automatic Screwdriver with corkscrew drill bit
- Vice Grip twist-clamp
- Knife, apple core tool
- Water [and soap]
- Dehusked coconut in shell (Cocos nucidera seed)
- Large cup (to collect coconut water)
- Coir Coconut Rope/String (Warning: do not use treated rope or twine as it may be poisonous to animals, if it smells like chemicals or oil, do not use it. I bought my coir on eBay 20ft at a time, it's not expensive at all.)
- natural plant raffia [for nesting material]
- Optional: Wood block cut to 3"x.75"x.75" inch strips
- bandaid [use as needed]
According to SFGate, "coconut trees produce their fruits year-round rather than in one specific season" and Wikipedia notes "coconut palms are grown in more than 90 countries of the world, with a total production of 62 million tons per year" and mentions in Thailand and Malaysia they train macaques [a type of old-world monkey] to collect coconuts from trees.
All things considered, finding a coconut at a local store should be a relatively simple task. Near my home in Thousand Palms, CA I was able to find coconuts at Walmart, Clarks Nutrition [health food store], $.99 Store and the absolute largest from Cardenas, a Mexican market chain, for $1.79.
The coconut I used was heavy, and when shook sounded like splashing water.
Avoid coconuts with visible mold or that are dried up as they are likely moldy inside [I know from experience opening rotten coconuts, it's gross.]
Coconut Prep: Mark, Screw, and Drain
Using a pencil, mark the area you plan cutting to create an entry hole, I suggest making the hole at least 4 inches wide and 3 inches tall [for a very small bird], make the hole fit the coconut. Some of the parrots' tails are too long to allow them to fully lay inside the coconut hut, but they still happily rest in the huts with their tails hanging out, for this reason i made a slightly oval shaped.
Using a vice, sturdily grip the coconut with the 'eyes' facing upwards, tighten the grip so you can work on it without it slipping, but do not over tighten or you will risk breaking the coconut's shell.
If your coconut doesn't fit in your vice, try to grasp a section using the vice. Use a vice, do not hold the coconut while using power tools.
Drill one or two holes into the top center of the coconut using a drill bit. I rotate the drill a bit to increase the size of the holes, but this adds debris to the coconut's insides- so be aware it will affect the clarity of your coconut milk.
Loosen the vice and empty the coconut's water contents into a glass (or your mouth.)
Coconut: Cutting, opening and Cleaning
Prepare your dremel (or other rotary tool) with a cut-off wheel accessory.
Put on protective eyewear. Work in an open area or near an open window or door, there will be a small amount of smoke, it is uncomfortable to breathe and will sting your eyes if it gets too intense.
With the coconut clamped to prevent slipping, begin cutting out the entrance hole. Work your way around the opening, readjusting as needed to make a clean set of cuts.
You are cutting to the correct depth when you can see the white flesh of the coconut in the cut.
Reposition the coconut in the vice and ready your drill with a drill bit larger than size of the rope, if you can not find a large enough bit, do what I did and twist around the bit to widen the hole.
Select where you would like to drill your holes for the lid, and ladder below the opening [optional] and drill through the coconut. BE CAREFUL at this point, drilling the holes for the ladder too close to the opening cut and pressing too hard may crack the coconut shell.
Optional: take the removed center piece and drill a hole through the center, place it over the top of the coconut for a neat look, saw that online.
Using your knife, cut through the white flesh in the cut, pry apart one side and cut around the rest to break out the entrance.
Using a knife wedge apart the coconut flesh from the shell. I read online options of placing the coconut in the freezer / oven aid in loosening the coconut shell. I simply used a knife and apple corer and got the coconut meat out in about twenty minutes.
Wash and dry the coconut shell.
Stringing the Coconut
After you've cut, cleaned out, and washed the shell with soapy water, it's ready to be strung.
Pull and measure your coir rope to an appropriate length. I would fold the string and pull out about a foot [making the string two feet in length total.] Cut the string using your knife, then pull the two ends of the string through the roof holes coconut.
Knot the string inside the coconut if you drilled one hole, or pull the string through the holes if you drilled two.
Tie knots and pull to tighten.
If you also drilled a set of holes below the entry for a ladder, cut an additional couple of feet of coir and feed it outwards [starting from inside the coconut] through the holes.
Make wooden rungs to the ladder by cutting pieces of .5x.5x2" wood drilled on either side for the rope. I added some rustic charm by patting the blocks on the flat side of the rotary wheel to make burn marks.
Every couple inches add a rung and knot tightly on either side to keep the rung in place.
At the end of my ladder, I had extra string on one side and too little on the other. I made due by untethering the rope and tying the pieces together a couple times. Worked out okay.
To finish your Coconut hut, roll a couple strands of raffia [or anything animal friendly] and place it on the floor of the hut.
The hut I made using this tutorial was donated and is now the new home for a 13 year old female Sun Conure [Aratinga solstitialis, a critically endangered species] named "Sunny" who resides at The Landing Zone Parrot Sanctuary.
I will be continuously formatting and updating this article, if you see any issues please let me know! :)
Thank you for taking the time to learn something new, and I hope you make this project and find a creature that will enjoy it!
This work is in the Public Domain. To view a copy of the public domain certification, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA.
Acknowledgments, Credits, and Bibliography