A New Addition To The Garden: Copper Roof Dovecote

One of my favorite things to do each spring is to go on the spring garden tours in my area. I love a garden tour every bit as much as I love a great home tour. Over the years while on garden tours, I would often come across these big, beautiful birdhouses. Eventually, I asked someone and found out they were dovecotes.

The ones I saw and loved the most were by a company called, Lazy Hill. When I added on the screened porch in 2008, I finally bought one for my garden. After drooling over them for so many years, I was thrilled to have one of my own.

Shortly after the dovecote was added to my perennial garden out front, bluebirds took up residence. They nested three times in the dovecote that spring and summer, returning year after year to nest there again. Each spring, after one batch of babies would fledge, they would build a new nest in another one of the cavities and do it all over again.

Bluebirds Nesting in Dovecote


Over the years the roof of the dovecote turned a pretty silver-gray color. It looked just like all the dovecotes I’d seen in all those gardens over the years.

Perennial Garden with Dovecote Bird House


Two years ago I heard a hammering sound while working outside in the yard. I went to see what it was but didn’t see anything. A few days later I discovered this. ๐Ÿ™

Dovecote with Woodpecker Damage


What the heck!

Woodpecker Damage to Dovecote


I showed a photo of this mini-disaster to my friends at my local Wild Birds Unlimited and they were 99% sure it was done by one of the Pileated Woodpeckers who visit my suet feeders each day.

Pileated Woodpecker eating suet


A few days later, whoever made that initial hole came back to finish off what they had started.

Dove Cote Damaged by Woodpecker 2_wm


The house stayed this way while I tried to figure out what to do. Unfortunately, after a bit of research, I learned  that Lazy Hill had been sold a few years back and the new company that now owned it had changed the roof design. Instead of using cedar, they now used redwood. I knew redwood wouldn’t match or age like my existing cedar roof, so I tried to find some thin sheets of cedar from which I could trace/cut singles to match. I looked at dollhouse supply stores and every place I could find online. A couple of times I found sheets of cedar online, but they were never the right thickness.

I had plans to bring the house in last winter while I worked on this issue, but the bluebirds decided to nest in it during the winter for warmth. Then the following spring they nested in it for real. So again, I couldn’t take it down to work on it or to repair the hole.

Dove Cote Damaged by Woodpecker 3_wm


No one nested in it this winter, at least I haven’t seen any birds flying in and out. So today I went outside in the drizzly rain and took it off the pole and brought it in. I don’t want anyone to nest in it this spring before I can attempt to repair it.

I contacted the company that makes all the Lazy Hill houses again and they sent me samples of the redwood shingles they currently use. I picked out the one that matched the closest in shape, and they are sending me around 10 shingles which is what I think I’ll need to make the repairs.

To replace the insulation that the woodpecker tore out, they suggested I buy some of the spray/foam insulation that comes in a can. I looked inside the woodpecker hole and there’s a board/ceiling that appears to separate the top nesting places from the “attic area” of the house, so the insulation I spray just inside the hole, shouldn’t end up near any future birds that may nest inside. Plus, it will give me something on which to nail the new shingles.

When I first bought this house many years ago, the white paint looked very thin, almost like a whitewash. I repainted it before I ever put it out in the garden, painting it with the same exterior paint that was used on my home and porch: Sherwin Williams, Duration. It’s a very, very durable paint and it has done a great job of protecting the siding of this bird house over the years.

Lazy Hill Dovecote After Woodpecker Damage


I’m going to try to stain the new redwood shingles to match the existing shingles, which I think is going to be difficult to do. If all else fails, I may order all new shingles and attempt to re-roof the entire house. That would be quite costly because replacement shingles aren’t cheap, and I would need 210 shingles! I really love the look of the moss or lichen, or whatever that is that’s growing on the roof, so I’d rather not re-roof it if I can avoid it.

Lazy Hill Dovecote Roof With Moss


The weather has destroyed the finial. The company that makes the house is sending me a new one of those, too. UPDATE: See how I repaired this Lazy Hill Dovecote here: How To Repair a Woodpecker-Damaged Roof of a Lazy Hill Dovecote Birdhouse

Birdhouse Finial After Years Exposed to Weather


In the meantime, I’ve ordered a new Lazy Hill dovecote that I hope will be woodpecker proof. I’ve always admired the copper roof bird houses and I’ve been told woodpeckers don’t mess with these. It’s also available with a “Blue Verde” copper roof that looks a lot like aged copper, but I decided to go with polished copper and let it age naturally. Or, maybe I’ll see if there’s a way to preserve it to keep it looking shiny new.

This house is insulated like the dovecote I already have, so hopefully the roof won’t heat up the house. The place I’m thinking of putting it gets a fair amount of shade during the summer, so that should help, too.

Lazy Hill Dovecote with Copper Roof

Another nice thing about all the new styles of Lazy Hill dovecotes is how they are now designed with a removal roof. That allows easy access to the cavities to clean them out each spring before nesting starts anew. On my old dovecote, I have to reach into the opening of each cavity with a coat hanger to pull out the old nest. That’s hard to do when it’s mounted up high on a pole.

The best place I’ve found to purchase the house I bought, and other styles of Lazy Hill houses is online here: Lazy Hill Birdhouse

Lady Hill Dovecote with Copper Bell-Shaped Roof


You’ll find the same style house I bought, but with a Verde Copper roof, here: Lazy Hill Dovecote with Verde Copper Roof. I’ve been told it looks more greenish than bluish, even though it looks bluish in this picture.

Lazy Hill Dovecote with Verde Roof


If you’re looking for one that’s like my old house, only now designed with a redwood roof that can easily be removed for cleaning, you’ll find it here: Lazy Hill Bird House with Redwood Single Roof   They’ve changed the shingle design slightly, it now has six rows of shingles instead of eight, but otherwise, it looks the same as this one below. Update: All the new birdhouses that I’ve found online are now made from Vinyl, I think that’s to discourage squirrels from chewing on the openings and to make them more maintenance free.

Lazy Hill Dovecote


Wish me luck with this repair. I’m not ready to give up on this old house, yet!

UPDATE: See how I repaired this Lazy Hill Dovecote here: How To Repair a Woodpecker-Damaged Roof of a Lazy Hill Dovecote Birdhouse

Lazy Hill Dovecote After Woodpecker Damage


Here are three other style Lazy Hill birdhouses and a feeder that I saw on a garden tour a couple of years ago. I love them all! They make so many beautiful styles! You’ll find all these HERE.

Lazy Hill Birdhouses and Feeder in the Garden

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  1. Beautiful, but how do you keep wasps from moving into your birdhouses ? That’s happened to every birdhouse I’ve had.

    • I’ve never had wasps move in but I’ve seen ants in a bluebird house I have in the backyard when I cleaned it out at the end of the summer. Poor birds, they have to contend with a lot, don’t they.

  2. Susan
    Boy oh boy, that one woodpecker sure caused a lot of problems for you. You sure went through a lot of trouble to build a new home for the blue jay’s. I am sure your thank you will be in seeing the new young birds take flight from their beautiful new home. Keep us posted as to how every thing progresses.

    • He did! But I’m tickled to have him and his mate visiting the suet feeders each day. They are so huge, they look prehistoric! I love seeing them! The folks at Wild Birds Unlimited figure he heard some insects underneath the shingles, and was going for that.

  3. I may have to build one myself. What size are the shingles. In the picture they look the size of cedar shims. It would not cost as much to replace them and they would be easy to work with. We sell them at Home Depot.

  4. Susan, I hope you’re able to make the necessary repairs to the roof of your dovecote, and the new one is going to look fabulous!

    • Thanks, Jane! I’m excited about the new one, wonder if the bluebirds will like it. I have so many that visit the feeders, it would be nice to have more than one pair nesting in the yard this spring. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Susan, thank you for sharing this. I laughed out loud when I read it. (I had a really bad day, so I needed the laugh.) It’s so funny. It looks like your woodpecker decided to do some serious remodeling. (Now, if the birdhouse were just a little bigger, I could move in!)

    • Yes he did! He decided the dovecote needed one more opening/cavity, apparently! I love the pileated woodpeckers, but not happy about their remodeling ideas! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. I love those birdhouses and bird feeders. I have one with the copper roof and it’s aged beautifully. Want to buy another with shingles. I’m disappointed they are using redwood now.
    Have you thought about repairing with bark from a tree? Lichen bark might add the weathered look. I used pieces of tree bark on a tole painted Halloween house years ago (not outside) and it looked great. With your DIY skills you might find the tree bark cut to size would work. Just a thought~

    • That’s good to hear, Anne! I think I’ll probably let this one age, too. I have a feeling it would be a lot of work to try to keep it looking shiny.

  7. Susan look at these shims http://www.homedepot.com/p/16-in-Cedar-Shims-42-Piece-per-Bundle-661619/100016338 You could have them cut to length at the store if you go when they are not busy. It would be best to use an air nailer to put them on but you could use a stapler too. I help with the Do-It-Herself workshops. You should go to them you can learn to use all the tools and make a project. We have a lot of fun too! I work in Wentzville MO. If you were closer I would be happy to help you with the repair. Good luck

  8. Hi, Susan!
    Just a little something to share that I heard on Treehouse Masters (Animal Planet) which I love watching! When Pete Nelson went to repair an earlier treehouse that he (and crew) had built, he discovered that woodpeckers ate at some of the railing and he mentioned that woodpeckers generally only peck at wood when they’ve found insects. So, I’m thinking that perhaps there were possibly insects that drew the woodpecker/s to the roof. One other thought comes to mind: maybe occasionally treating the redwood with cedar oil may keep the insects at bay. By the way, congratulations on your second grandchild! In the latest issue of AARP, Lesley Stahl is featured with a short article from her upcoming book, “Becoming Grandma.” You can access it online. I try not to include links when I comment as they’re not always welcome. Good luck!

  9. Susan, I have always loved these dovecotes! Yours is beautiful! Did you put your post in concrete? And should they be put out in the middle of the yard to prevent cats from getting to them? I would like to put mine in a flower bed close to the house, but I’m afraid cats could climb up the pergola and get on the roof and jump to the birdhouse. Any ideas? I am spooked because we once put a birdhouse on a fence and a cat killed all of the birds inside. I’ll never get over that!

    • No, I just dug a very, very deep hole. When I was talking with the company that now makes the houses, they said that usually it’s squirrels that folks have an issue with and that it’s important to put them away from trees. I’ve never seen any squirrels in the crape myrtles that are behind the bird house, so hopefully I don’t start having a squirrel problem next! So, yes…if possible, you want it to be away from any trees. So sorry that happened with the cat. ๐Ÿ™ I wish folks would keep their kitties inside or only let them out while supervised on a leash. A lot of folks are starting to walk their cats on leashes now, just like we do with dogs.

  10. Susan, I’ll bet the new shingles will age fairly quickly-Colonial Williamsburg just replaces their roofs with new shingles and they look different for a time but blend in eventually..they might have advice. Adding yogurt mixture helps grow moss on flower pots-wonder if that would do anything to speed up “growth?”

  11. I hope the metal roof one will keep the woodpecker away and at the feeder. Good luck on the repairs. I think they are lovely!

  12. your old dovecote is wood and the ew one is plastic ,is that correct?

    • The body of mine is wood, so that’s why I was able to paint it. It’s not plastic now, it’s a type of Vinyl called, “Solid Cellular Vinyl.” I prefer wood but I think all the companies are using vinyl now for the birdhouses to discourage squirrels from chewing on them. I was reading online about dovecotes late last night and the “dovecotes” of today, aren’t really big enough to house real doves. Check out these, they are a fair amount more $ but they are beautiful! http://www.dovecotes.org/salesbury-at-mccarthy-and-sons-ltd.html#ad-image-1 Wonder if they ship to the U.S.

  13. Ah, woodpeckers. There was one that did that to my house. They are lovely though. I hope you have better luck with the metal roof.

    • Thanks, Melanie! Yeah, I have one that likes to drum on my house. I may have to stop putting out peanuts to discourage them from coming near the house.

  14. Hi Susan, love your dovecotes………new and old. I have a birdhouse in the backyard where the little bluebirds have nested. Last winter I opened up the little door on it, just to see if there was an old nest in it………..I was shocked to death to see a little mouse staring back at me………I think he was equally as surprised! I just shut the door, and let him stay.

    • lol That is too funny! Who would think a mouse would nest in a bird house! You are so kind hearted, Dotti. I probably would have done the same.

  15. Susan, I have the same LHF dovecote and we have bluebirds that nest there every spring. Fortunately the woodpeckers haven’t gotten to ours but I have lost several bird houses to the squirrels (aka rats with tails) eating and enlarging the nest box holes. Love the look of the copper and verdigris roofs too. Good luck with your repair, I love the patina of your shingles and lichen growing on them. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ugh! They are such a pain, aren’t they? My squirrels all seem to hang out in the back yard where they are always eating the peanuts I crush and put out for the bluebirds. I’ve noticed I don’t have as many squirrels now. I think it’s because of the hawks I’ve been seeing in the trees out back.

  16. We live in Central Ontario and I’m not sure that these little bluebirds come this far north. However, there are Purple Martins here and their bird-houses look quite similar to these Dovecoat birdhouses. I wonder if they are the same. Purple Martins are great little birds to house in order to keep mosquito populations under control!

    • The Purple Martin houses do look similar, I think it’s because PMs live in colonies or groupings (or whatever the proper term is) and doves live in something similar. The houses you see today for gardens (like the one I have) are not true dovecotes because the holes are really too small for a pair of doves to pass through and to nest in. From what I’ve seen/read, real dovecotes have much bigger openings since doves are pretty big birds. You can see a real dove cote here: http://www.thedovecotespot.com/page28.htm
      I always wondered why people put up Purple Martin houses. That’s great that they eat mosquitoes. We need to put more of those up here in the south!

  17. There’s a wonderful birdhouse manufacturer in Mississippi called Heartland. Check them out. They might can help with your destroyed birdhouse.

  18. Thanks for sharing so much information about these beautiful bird houses. I would buy one to put in my yard but I’m worried I’d just be luring birds to their deaths because of my four cats (who spend some time outdoors each day). Living here in the mostly brown Arizona desert, I drool over your photos of your lovely yard, trees, flowers, bird houses, etc. So much green and color, so lovely. Have a wonderful day. :0)

  19. Fingers crossed that you are able to repair the beautiful dovecote. And hope you keep the old finial–perhaps incorporate in the garden or deck/porch, if not in the house.

  20. An absolute WEALTH of information, both from the blog post and the comments from your followers. I would NEVER miss a single post on this blog! Can’t wait to see how you fare with your repair. This is all really interesting to me! Lucky little bluebirds!!!

    • Thanks so much, Vickie! So glad this was helpful. I’m really excited about how the birdhouse is looking after a good cleaning and a new coat of paint. I’m looking forward to sharing the “after” pictures as soon as the new shingles arrive.

  21. Well, I have a similar copper roofed bird-house snuggled in my trailing gardenia garden and I love it too although the copper has weathered quite a bit. I’ve often wondered if I had treated the copper with a polyurethane coating if it would have kept it’s original color? We had an issue with a determined woodpecker at our beach home which is shingled in cedar shakes. Mr. Woodpecker would arrive is a business-like manner at 6am ever day and promptly begin his rat- a tat-tatting. I love birds, but this was maddening. We finally purchased in a 15- inch fake barnyard owl with glass/marble eyes from ACE Hardware and set him on a nearby deck railing. Mr. Woodpecker immediately decided he didn’t like his new neighbor and left town for friendlier digs. If only it were that easy to keep the squirrels from eating the birdseed.

  22. Susan, I recall your earlier post about this birdhouse and am happy that you are going to attempt to repair it. That said may I make a suggestion, in lieu of staining the new shingles you may wish to consider a diluted acrylic paint (in other words one mixed with water and create a wash) which will give you more play to match up the colour. Loving the one with the copper roof that you ordered and wishing you good luck on giving the old one new life … โ˜บ. -Brenda-
    P.S.: When doing up small unfinished wooden chests that I purchased at the $-Store for my Grandson’s Pirate Birthday party ( filled with treasures and to be used later for trinkets); I found a wash of acrylic ‘craft’ paint far more effective than a stain since its construction had so many woods plus it was much cheaper and I was very pleased with the results.

  23. Hi Susan – you must have mixed emotions about that woodpecker! Have you thought about “painting” the repair with buttermilk moss paint? That’s where you grind up moss in the blender with buttermilk, then paint it on surfaces to make moss grow. There are tons of recipes for it on Pinterest and the Internet.

  24. I always love those bird houses. They’re beautiful. On a different note, what garden shows do you go to? I always read about them after the fact when it is too late.

    • My favorite is the “Gardens for Connoisseurs Tour” because it’s HUGE and always includes 10-12 gardens. Ryan Gaineys garden was always on the tour but it won’t be on there anymore now. I will miss seeing it. That tour is always on Mother’s Day weekend (Saturday and Sunday). If you start early enough in the day, you can usually do it in one day. It’s a wonderful tour to do with your children or a friend. http://atlantabg.org/events-classes/events/gardens-connoisseurs-tour
      Another one I’ve done a few times is the Marietta Garden tour called, “Through The Garden Gate.”

  25. Ugh…”those” woodpeckers are the bane of my existence…as we LIVE in a log cabin. Luv the copper roof…we put copper roofs on all our cupolas. And, OUR BLUEBIRDS are BACK!! Yay!! franki

    • Oh boy, I bet they do love visiting you! I have one right now that shows up every morning, fortunately not too early, and starts hammering on the wall just outside my office. I bet the next time the house is painted, something will be found damaged in that area. They wrecked my chimney corners and I had to have that all redone when I had the porch painted. Fortunately, it’s Hardie Plank now so they can’t do anything to it. Glad your Bluebirds are back…so exciting! ๐Ÿ™‚ I love them so much!

  26. You have quite a project going there. I thought we had some very stupid woodpeckers here in So. Florida because they would quite noisily peck on our aluminum downspouts. A birder neighbor of mine said no, they weren’t mentally challenged, they were letting other woodpeckers know this was their territory, and please find another yard. I have no idea if that is true, but I hope they dont attack your new metal roof, because it is very noisy!!

    • lol I’ve heard that, too. I think that’s what the one who has started banging on my house each morning is doing. I can also here them out the woods behind my house, tapping away. I guess they want to keep the peanuts I put out in the feeders all to themselves.

  27. Hi Susan! I love your blog and look forward to reading all your posts and newsletters! I get so inspired by your creativity and energy. We bought a fairly updated 1899 Victorian style home in Essex, Connecticut in January 2015. One of the first things I did after moving day was hang a bird feeder outside my kitchen window. Within an hour several species of birds visited the feeder. I was so excited! Next I longed for a large birdhouse, however, other house projects took precedence over the purchase and installation of a birdhouse. Now, one year later and a very significant garden and patio project to begin for us in a couple weeks, the timing of your birdhouse post couldn’t have come at a better time. Within 10 minutes of reading and sharing this post with my husband, I ordered the Copper Roof Dovecote and Post. I can’t wait to incorporate it into our garden plans. Thanks for the latest inspiration! Have a lovely day!

    • Thanks so much, Cindy for those kind words! Your garden/patio project sound so exciting! If you like, take Before and After pictures. It sounds like it would be a fun project to share here on the blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Good Morning Susan! I will definitely share Before and After pictures of our garden/patio project. In the meantime, I couldn’t wait to share the news that we received our Dovecote (absolutely beautiful!!) and two days after installing it we already have a couple Purple Finch families moving in and building their nests! We’re so enjoying the performance! Thanks again for the motivation and recommendation!! Cindy

        • Oh, I can’t wait to see how your garden/patio turns out! So awesome that you already have house guests! It’s so much fun to watch them build their nests and settle in. I don’t think anyone has moved into my repaired bluebird house, yet. Hopefully the paint smell has worn off and I’ll get some new residents, soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. I have had my dovecote for many years. I live on the coast and the weather can be brutal at times. Mine was missing shingles too so I used shingles that I had from building my daughter’s doll house years ago. They worked great! Same thickness and size.

    • I contacted one company online that was selling dollhouse shingles and unfortunately, he wrote back saying they weren’t the right thickness. I didn’t check any other companies, just that one. I read a couple of days ago that redwood turns gray when it ages. Hoping that info was correct, guess I’ll know in a couple of years. Thanks, Kathy!

  29. I enjoyed reading your post and all the follow up comments. My mom has two copper roof birdhouses that she loves. However, she needs to replace the finials. Where did you get your replacement finial?

  30. Lazy Hill birdhouses were originally made in Colerain, NC. One of the two orig founders of this company still makes these houses from wood! No vinyl for me!! If you want his contact info. Let me know.
    [email protected]

  31. Iโ€™ve read that bluebirds have to have approximately 125 yards between their nests but your wonderful informative article indicates that more than one bluebird nested in your birdhouse. Did I understand correctly or did I misread your article. I would love to have a โ€œbluebird condoโ€ if possible. Thank you for your blog.

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