How to make your own nest box
National Nest Box Week takes place in February but you can make a box at any time of year. Making a bird box is simple, cheap and a fun activity to do with the kids.
If you fancy getting hands-on, this simple guide will show you how to create your own nest box.
What you will need
To make your own nest box you will need a plank of untreated wood. A standard plank size will measure 150mm x 1800mm, you will need to cut this down to measure 150mm x 1195mm.
The thickness of the timber needs to be a minimum of 15mm to provide sufficient insulation and prevent warping.
Tools you will need:
- Drill bit (25mm, 28mm or 35mm)
- Wood saw
- 28 x 30mm Screws
- Tape measure
Measure and mark out the measurements to get started
Measure the wood into six sections using the measurements shown above and mark with a pencil.
Cut the wood along the pencil marks using a wood saw. Sand down the rough edges to prevent harm to birds. Remember to watch your fingers!
Position one of the sides to the back of the nest box, mark along the inside edge onto the back plank with a pencil. Repeat this around all four sides to create a grid.
This will create a guide when screwing the planks together.
Use the guide to pre-drill screw holes at equal intervals along the back plank.
Drill a hole at the top of the back plank to hook in position once completed.
Create an entrance hole for potential occupants
Next, take the front plank and using a 25mm, 28mm or 32mm drill bit create the entrance hole.
Different sized holes will attract different occupants. Here are the most common visitors:
- 25mm for Blue, Coal or Marsh Tit
- 28mm for Great Tit and Tree Sparrow
- 35mm for House Sparrow
Make sure to sand down the entrance hole to prevent harm to birds.
Screw the nest box together
Screw through the back plank into the side panels at the top, middle and bottom. Position the front plank onto the side planks and secure in place using the same method.
Secure the base of the nest box by screwing into the back, front and side panels. Repeat this to secure the top plank.
- Drill a couple of extra holes in the base for drainage and ventilation.
- To extend the life of your nest box, treat with a non-toxic, water based wood preservative, such as Cuprinol Exterior Wood Preserver, to prevent wood rot.
- Get creative with the kids and decorate the nest box with bird-safe paints.
Where to position your nest box
Now you have completed your nest box build, here are some things to consider before securing your nest box in place:
Fix your nest box in a north-east facing position. This helps to make sure it’s sheltered from prevailing winds, rain and strong sunlight.
Position away from other nest boxes to prevent aggressive behaviour between neighbours. Placing the box away from bird feeders in a quiet area will encourage nesting pairs.
Small hole bird boxes are best positioned around 3 metres from the ground. Try not to site where branches could obstruct the entrance.
Make sure that no predators such as cats can access the box.
If there are no trees in your garden, place the box on the side of your shed or a wall.
National Nest Box Challenge
Take part in the National Nest Box Challenge run by the British Trust for Ornithology to help create better homes for our garden birds.
National Nest Box Week takes part 14th-21st February every year and aims to encourage everyone to put up nest boxes in their local area.
Register your nest box with the BTO to help them monitor the breeding success of birds in green spaces.
You can register your box here.
If you’ve had a go at creating your own nest box, we’d love to see your creations! Share your images and stories over on our Facebook page.