Birdhouse Competition

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City of Ames
Public Arts Commission presents 

2019 Art in the Parks

Exhibit dates at the Octagon Center for the Arts: March 30 – May 18, 2019

All are welcome to participate and design a home for our feathered friends!Birdhouse with tools

Competition Goals:

The goals of this birdhouse competition are to:

  • Encourage construction of functional and aesthetically pleasing birdhouses
  • Encourage the use of environmentally sensitive materials
  • Demonstrate ways to attract wildlife by creating unique backyard and park habitats
  • Inspire creativity in backyard and park habitats
  • Encourage artistic and hand-crafted approaches to birdhouse design
  • Help support our students, children, families, and community
  • Have Fun!

PAC has reached out to several partners including the Ames Parks and Recreation Department, Ames Elementary School art teachers, the Ames High School Art Club, Big Bluestem Audubon Society, ACPC Preschool, Girl Scout and Daisy troops, Northwood Preschool, and Prairie Flower Preschool.

The Commission is seeking a guest artist or artists to work with the community and area schools and preschools for birdhouse decorating workshops. The Commission plans to work with ornithologists and wildlife experts for special events to talk about Iowa birds and the importance of conservation of Iowa natural landscapes. After the bird houses are mounted in City parks, they will be evaluated annually for soundness and either remain in the park system or be decommissioned.



Registration Opens: January 14, 2019

Birdhouses may be turned in from Monday, March 4, to Friday, March 29, 2019, from 9 am to 5 pm at the Octagon Center for the Arts, 427 Douglas Ave.

Entry Judging: Saturday April 20, 2019, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. Winners to be announced on Earth Day – April 22.

People’s Choice Award: Close of voting on April 20, 2019.



An interdisciplinary jury made up of artists, civic leaders, architects, and gardeners will select multiple entries in all categories.

Award shall be given in each entry category and winners shall receive an honorarium of $100.

All entries are eligible for the People’s Choice Award.

Exhibitors whose works are chosen for the exhibit may designate whether their works are available for public installation in City of Ames Parks at the conclusion of the exhibition, or shall be returned.

** The Public Arts Commission reserves the right to refuse submissions.  The Octagon reserves the right to remove submissions from exhibit that lack structural integrity.


Construction Guidelines: 
(Required for items that are intended for installation in city parks.)

•• Birdhouse kits are available to the public while supplies last. Kits are free and available for anyone 15 and under. They may be picked up at the Community Center desk. The kits come with instructions and fasteners. Two styles are available. The Carbon is a traditional wren house and the Mashel is for small to medium birds like chickadees, finches, wrens, swallows, and nuthatches. ••
 Mashel and Carbon birdhouses

 The base of the birdhouse may not exceed 18" square. The height of the birdhouse may not exceed 36" tall, not including the post.

All birdhouses must be ready for installation outdoors. You must be able to perch your birdhouse on the end of a post or table or attach a sturdy hanger for display from a post or wall hanging for the exhibit.

Materials to use:

  • Eco Friendly recycled plastic (e.g. deck material) can be used
  • Solid wood products (cedar, pine, etc.) are best
  • Preferred thickness of building material is 3/4" - anything less promotes heat build-up, potentially harming young birds
  • Exterior grade plywood can be used
  • A rough interior helps young birds exit the house
  • Must have a quickly removable section of the house for cleaning purposes

Materials to avoid:

  • No particle board, flake board, MDF, OSB, etc.
  • No metal birdhouses
  • No paper products (cardboard, card stock, etc.)
  • No fishing line, plastic, etc. can be used
  • No sharp edges

Finish Materials:

  • Use only water based latex paints
  • Do not use lead based or creosote based coatings
  • Do not paint the interior or the entrance hole of the house

Birdhouses shall be installed in public parks throughout Ames, following the exhibition. The birdhouses shall be evaluated annually for soundness and shall either remain or be disposed of at the discretion of the Ames Park and Recreation staff and the Public Arts Commission.

For Birdhouses intended for display only and will be returned to submitter 

  • The base of the birdhouse may not exceed 18" square. The height of the birdhouse may not exceed 36" tall
  • You must be able to perch your birdhouse on the end of a post or table or attach a sturdy hanger for display from support, post, or wall hanging for the exhibit.


Registration FormBirdhouse Graphic


Supplemental Information:

Guide for Birdhouse Sizes


Additional Questions?

For more information, contact Public Art Commissioner Kerry Dixon at

Tentative Timeline:
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