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How to make your own nest box

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
  • Drill bit (25mm, 28mm or 35mm)
  • Wood saw
  • Screwdriver
  • 28 x 30mm Screws
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Sandpaper

Step 1

How to build a nest box plank measurements
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.

Step 2
Cutting the wooden nest bird box to size
Carefully saw the wood along the measurements

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!

Step 3    
Mark out a guide to screw the nest box together
Create a guide for screwing the nest box together

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.

Step 4
Pre-drill the back of the nest box
Pre-drill screw holes to prevent the wood from splitting

Use the guide to pre-drill screw holes at equal intervals along the back plank.

Step 5      

Create a hole to hook your nest box onto a tree
Create a hole to hook your nest box onto a tree

Drill a hole at the top of the back plank to hook in position once completed.

Step 6

Creating the entrance hole to the bird box
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.

Step 7

Screw the nest box together
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.

Completed wooden nest box
Your nest box should look a little something like this

Secure the base of the nest box by screwing into the back, front and side panels. Repeat this to secure the top plank.

Finishing tips:

  1. Drill a couple of extra holes in the base for drainage and ventilation.
  2. 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.
  3. Get creative with the kids and decorate the nest box with bird-safe paints.

Where to position your nest box

Wooden nest box positioned on shed
Position your nest box somewhere accessible for feathered friends

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.

Nest box positioned in tree
Keep an eye out to see who will visit your nest box

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.

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