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How to make a

If you'd like to help the birds in your garden, why not have a go at making your own nestbox?

Children - PLEASE ASK AN ADULT TO HELP YOU. You may need to use tools that could hurt you.



Natural nest holes don't come in 'standard' sizes, so please use the following sizes as a guide. Use a plank about 150 mm wide and 15 mm thick. Use the diagram to help you.

Diagram showing how to build a nestbox for small garden birds - (RSPB) click on diagram to open it in larger scale (adobe pdf)The inside of the box must be at least 100 mm square and the bottom of the entrance hole must be at least 125 mm from the floor. If it is less, young birds might be scooped out by a cat.

Use galvanised nails or screws. The inside front surface should be rough - this will help the young birds to clamber up. A drainage hole in the base will also help to stop the box getting damp inside.

Hinge the lid with a strip of leather or rubber (an old piece of bicycle inner tube would do). Do not nail the lid down (because you will need to clean out the box in the autumn). Instead, use a catch to keep it closed.

The entrance hole size depends on the type of bird you want to attract:

  • 25 mm for coal tits, marsh tits and blue tits
  • 28 mm for great tits and tree sparrows
  • 32 mm for nuthatches and house sparrows

A starling box needs to be 25-30% larger with an entrance 45 mm across

If you remove the top half of the front panel, the same type of box could attract robins, pied wagtails or wrens to nest. Spotted flycatchers prefer an even shallower, open-fronted box.

Softwood boxes (such as pine) can be treated with water-based wood preservatives, such as Fenceguard or Sadolin: apply only to the outside of the box, and not around the entrance hole. Whatever you use, make sure the box dries and airs thoroughly before putting it up.

PLEASE DO NOT use chemicals like wood preservatives without an adult - they can be dangerous.

All text copyright RSPB

RSPB logoThe RSPB’s Homes for Wildlife is an exciting activity inspiring people to transform their homes and gardens into wildlife havens by following simple, free gardening advice. 


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