How to Build a Nest Box

National Nest Box Week is just around the corner so we thought we would offer some top tips on how to build a nest box for your feathered visitors. Just follow these simple instructions on how to build your own version in time for the big event.

What you will need

  • Wood: Make sure you have the right kind of wood. Treated wood is not suitable as it will poison birds, and hardwood such as oak and beech are better choices that softwoods because they will last longer. Metal and plastic are not suitable materials for building your nest box as they can make the contents of the nest overheat or allow condensation to build up inside the box. This will cause the eggs and chicks to become wet. The wood needs to have the thickness of at least 15mm in order to provide enough insulation.

  • Nails: Galvanized or stainless steel nails are most suitable for joining your box together as they will prevent rust. Using nails instead of glue will allow water to drain.
  • Drill: A couple of holes need to be drilled in the base of your box to make sure any rain that gets into the box can drain out quickly.
  • Taking Measurements

    This diagram from the RSPB website shows measurements for each panel of the wood. Use the first measurement if you are making a small box, and the second if you are building a larger one.


    You also need to have a think about what kind of birds you want to attract to your nest box. Starlings and Great Spotted Woodpeckers will need a larger box whereas most other birds will be able to fit nicely into a smaller one.

    Different holes will also be suitable for different species. Smaller holes that are 25mm are appropriate for Coal, Marsh and Blue Tit. Great Tit and Tree Sparrow can have a hole of 28mmm or larger and House Sparrow can have a box with a 32mm hole.

    Assembling your Nest Box

  • As already mentioned, you will need to drill holes into the base of the box to allow for drainage. Then nail your box together using the guide above.
  • You can treat your softwood with some water-based preservatives such as Sadolin but check that they are safe for animals. Apply the treatment to the outside if the box and not around the entrance hole. Also remember that if your box is for woodpeckers, fill your nest box with a block of balsa wood, wood chips or rotting log.
  • Make sure you can have easy access to the inside of the nest box by attaching a waterproof hinge to the roof instead of nailing the lid down. This will allow it to be easily lifted without having it fall off. You will need access to the box to keep it clean and inspect for eggs!
  • We would love to see photos of your DIY nest boxes so don’t forget to share them with us via Facebook, Twitter or Google+. You can also share your own useful tips for building a nest box via the comments section below. We look forward to see how you get on!

    Related articles:

    National Nest Box Week 2015

    How to Make a Bird Cake


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