How to make your own bird box

If you’d like to help the birds in your garden, why not build them a bird box they can call home? Nest boxes can replicate holes in tree trunks that birds use for shelter.

A great way to help birds at this time of year is to put up nest boxes, where birds can raise a clutch of young come the spring. In our urban areas and gardens, where trees are typically sparser, nest boxes can replicate holes in tree trunks that birds use for shelter. As natural nest sites are declining, why not follow our simple step-by-step instructions to create your own bird box?

Follow our step-by-step guide

Step 1. Choose your wood

You’re going to need a plank of wood that’s about 15mm thick to give the birds inside the insulation they’ll need. Make sure you use untreated timber too.

You can build your box with one particular species in mind, however, if you’re not sure who you’d like to attract, we’d recommend finding a piece of wood that you can cut into the following six sections:

  • Back: 45cm x 15cm
  • Base: 11cm x 15cm
  • Front: 20cm x 15cm
  • Roof: 21cm x 15cm
  • Side panels: 11cm x 25cm high at the back and 20cm high at the front.

Step 2. Sanding it down

Once the wood is cut, make sure you sand down all of the edges, so that you protect the birds that will be moving in.

Step 3. Hammer in those nails

Nail the side panels to the back panel then add the base. You’ll probably need three nails roughly for each join.

Who will be visiting your garden?
Blue tit sitting on a branch.
Who will be visiting your garden?

Step 4. Don’t forget to make an entrance

Before you add the front panel, make a hole that will become the bird’s entrance into their new home. You can do this with a wide drill bit and depending on the sort of birds you want to attract - we’d recommend a hole measuring 25mm for blue tits and up to 32mm for house sparrows. This front panel is then ready to nail to your box.

Step 5. We’re ready for the roof

For the roof we recommend you use self-tapping screws or a hinge, so that you can remove it later to make it easier to clean the bird box out in the autumn. 

Step 6. Find the perfect spot and wait

Now for the final step, drill a hole at the top of the bird box to attach it to the perfect spot you’ve identified in your garden. The best position for a box is to be north-east facing, around 2-4 metres above the ground away from predators, with a clear flight path to the entrance hole. Make sure it’s sheltered from the rain, wind and direct sunlight.

" Where you install your nest box such as height above the ground, distance from other next boxes and protection from our furry feline friends will ultimately determine how much use your box receives. Research your target species preferences and create a little wildlife oasis of your own."
- Anthony Lambert, Ranger, Dunstable Downs

Then watch and wait – we hope you have some new residents moving into your garden soon.