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How to make a hinged nest box

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Making a nest box for birds is much simpler than you might think. A nest box can be made from cheap, readily available materials, in just a couple of hours. By providing nest sites for birds, you’ll help them raise their young, and in return they’ll reward you through their tireless efforts to hunt and eat your garden pests during spring and summer.

Once you’ve created your nest box, why not follow our advice on installing a nest box camera, which will give you a fascinating insight into the lives of your resident birds – from egg laying, hatching and feeding to the fledglings finally leaving the nest.

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You Will Need

  • Untreated wood (ideally 15-25mm thick)
  • Screws (20, 40mm)
  • Strip of rubber, roofing felt or leather
  • Wood nails (two)
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil, or marker pen
  • Ruler, or straight edge
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Drill bit kit
  • Saw
  • Work bench

Total time:

Step 1

Using a tape measure, carefully mark out the pieces according to these measurements: back panel 30cm x 15cm; lid 20cm x 15cm; front 17.5cm x 15cm; base 15cm x 15cm; and two side panels cut for a sloping roof, 20cm high on the back x 17.5cm high at the front.

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Step 2

Once you’ve marked the position of all your cuts, saw through the plank. Be careful to follow the lines you’ve marked, as a wobbly cut may mean your joints aren’t flush and the box will be draughty.

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Step 3

Screw the parts together to ensure a firm join, drilling pilot holes first to prevent the wood from splitting. Attach the two side panels to the back board, then the base and finally the front.

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Step 4

Using a large drill bit, make an access hole in the front panel, near the top (so the young are out of reach of predators). Blue and coal tits need a 25mm hole, great tits 28mm, sparrows 32mm.

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Step 5

Attach the lid by nailing the rubber hinge, and drill drainage holes in the base. Hang the box in 2-3m high, in a sheltered spot, ideally facing north east, east or south east.

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Step 6

Not all birds like boxes with a hole for an entrance. Robins, wagtails and flycatchers, for example, need a box with a front panel that covers only two-thirds of the gap, leaving an open ‘window’. Simply make the front panel smaller – 12cm long rather than 17.5cm.

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Any type of untreated wood will do – exterior grade plywood is good, but plank wood is easier to cut