Making a Birdbox / Nesting Box

Open front nesting box / birdbox - 12k Small holed nesting box / birdbox - 16k

That you have arrived at this page probably means that you would like to do something to attract birds to your garden, or offer an alternative habitat if you have been removing trees and shrubs around the garden.

At their simplest birdboxes or nesting boxes take on the two forms you can see above - one which has a half open front [liked by species such as the Robin], and the second which has a small entry hole [for Blue Tits, Sparrows and similar].

As you will see from the two pictures above making a nesting box isn't exactly rocket science and you should be able to easily draw up a blueprint to make your own nesting box using basic materials. You may already have scraps of wood lying around which can be transformed without the need to purchase any more wood. The nesting box above right is made with the trunk offcuts from a sawmill, so you might be able to scrounge materials from similar sources. Maybe your local builder or chippy has small offcuts which can be used.

Use good, quality timber - not material which is split, or discarded because it is woodworm infested. My own feeling is that plywood is probably less weather resistant than solid offcuts, and therefore plywood boxes may need replacing more often than solid wood ones. And, I would suggest, it is probably best not to use any kind of wood preservative, paint or adhesive because these might be toxic to the birdlife you want to use your nesting box. However, your design will need tight fitting edges to ensure that there is minimal water penetration, and a sloped roof will assist rain run off.

Enlarging the holes and size of the box will allow you to cater for larger species. The two boxes pictured above are about eight or nine inches high.

In the case of hole-type nesting boxes, organise a way to get at old nesting material or dead chicks after the breeding season. You could design your box so that one side is removable or hinged (old bicycle tyre inner tubes and bits of pond liner can make a handy hinge), or perhaps the base segment is held in place with easy-release hook-and-eye catches. Also make sure to drill a few small holes in the base to allow for drainage.

Other thoughts
Place the nesting box where cats cannot get at it, and attach it securely to a solid object... You don't want gales to wrench the box from its fixings.

Select a site which is relatively shaded so that the occupants of the nesting box aren't baked by long exposure to hot sun.

Place the nesting box in its location well before the nesting season - perhaps in the months between September and January.

And, if you want to watch the occupants of your nesting box, pick a site where you can do so without disturbing them.

We have a number of book reviews on birds and wildlife. You can have a look at these now in a new browser window.

Copyright © 2001-2010