Make a nest box

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Making your own nest box is simple and rewarding. Firstly, select the type of box you want to make and then use our illustrations and and instructions to build your box.

Select your box?

For gardens we would recommend either:

  1. Small-hole nest box which is occupied by tit species
  2. Small open fronted box which is used by robins

Other nest box options

Small boxes with holes

Large boxes with holes

Open fronted boxes

Very big boxes

Blue Tit Swift Robin Kestrel
Great Tit Starling Pied Wagtail Tawny Owl
Coal Tit Great Spotted Woodpecker Spotted Flycatcher Barn Owl
Marsh Tit Little Owl   Stock Dove
Willow Tit     Jackdaw
House Sparrow      
Tree Sparrow      
Nuthatch      
Redstart      
Pied Flycatcher      

Building a nest box

Before you start building your nest box study the below nest box illustrations, dimensions and advice on the materials to use and the hole sizes. Make sure that you put your box up as soon as it has been built – the longer it’s up, the more chance it has of attracting visitors

For more information on the designs or other types of boxes purchase the BTO nest box guide book.

Make a nestbox

Small-hole nest box

Materials

It is important that the inside of the box doesn’t get too cold or warm and that the box is durable.

  • Nest boxes should be made from wood (Woodcrete - a unique combination of sawdust and concrete is often used for commercial boxes). Metal and plastic are unsuitable materials as they may cause the contents of the nest to overheat or allow condensation to build up inside the box, wetting eggs and chicks.
  • The type of wood used is not critical but hardwoods, such as oak and beech, will outlive soft wood, such as pine.
  • Rather more critical is the thickness of the wood, which should be at least 15mm to provide sufficient insulation and to prevent warping.
  • It is better to nail your box together rather than gluing it (remember to use galvanized/stainless steel nails to stop rust) as this allows water to drain.
  • Make sure you drill a couple of holes in the base of your box to ensure that any rain that does get in can drain out quickly.
  • Top tip - Do not put a perch on the front of the nest box as this is not necessary and may aid access to a predator!
Image of an open fronted nest box

Open-fronted nest box

Hole sizes

Different size holes are suitable for different species:

  • 25mm or larger for Blue, Coal and Marsh Tit;
  • 28mm or larger for Great Tit and Tree Sparrow;
  • 32mm for House Sparrow.

Access for inspection and cleaning

Nest boxes should have a means of easy access for both inspection and cleaning.

Attach a waterproof hinge to the roof of the box, so that it can be lifted easily but won’t fall off. Car inner tubes or Butyl rubber are ideal waterproof materials to use. Cut the rubber to the width of the box, and then nail the rubber along the back of the box and to the roof.

 

Next step - Put up your nest box