How to make your own bird box

How to make a bird box

This simple bird box is easy to make and will be used by birds like blue tits and sparrows.

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Making a bird box is one of the many ways you can create nesting habitats for birds in your garden.

This project uses a single piece of wood, costing just a couple of pounds, cut into six sections. Make sure you site your nesting box at least two metres off the ground, away from predators, strong sunlight and wind. A north-east facing spot is best but other aspects may also work if sufficient shade prevents overheating in summer.

If you have house sparrows visiting your garden, group two or three nest boxes close together, as they tend to nest in loose colonies.

Watch Kate Bradbury demonstrate how to make a bird box, below.

After you’ve made your bird box, you’ll need to find the perfect spot to site it. Here, Monty Don offers some tips on the best spots for erecting a bird box:

More on gardening for birds:

Follow our step-by-step guides to building a bird box, below.


You Will Need

  • Untreated, sawn timber (1.5m x 15cm x 1.25cm)
  • 2.5cm nails (20)
  • 2.5cm self-tapping screws (3)
  • Drill
  • 25mm wood drill bit
  • 28mm wood drill bit
  • 32mm wood drill bit
  • Wood saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Hammer screw driver
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Roofing felt, small patch

Step 1

Cut the timber for the bird box into six sections using the following measurements: back panel 45cm x 15cm; base 11cm x 15cm (with a few drilled holes for drainage); front 20cm x 15cm; roof 21cm x 15cm; and two side panels cut for a sloping roof, 25cm high on the back x 20cm high at the front.

Measuring the wood
Measuring the wood

Step 2

Cut the wood along the pencil lines using a wood saw. Sand down all rough edges to protect the birds.

Sawing the wood
Sawing the wood

Step 3

Nail one of the sides to the base of the bird box, then nail them both to the back section. Hammer gently to avoid splitting the wood.

Hammering a nail into the wood
Hammering a nail into the wood

Step 4

Turn the nesting box on to the fixed side and nail the other side into position. Three nails for each join should be enough.

Fixing the bird box pieces together
Fixing the bird box pieces together

Step 5

Before fixing the front panel to the sides, make an entrance hole for the birds using a wide drill bit. Sand the edges smooth. A 25mm hole will attract blue, coal and marsh tits and a 28mm hole attracts great tits. House sparrows need a minimum hole diameter of 32mm to fit inside.

Drilling an entrance hole into the bird box
Drilling an entrance hole into the bird box

Step 6

Place the bird box on its back and nail the front to the sides. The pieces should all fit together without gaps.

Fixing the front panel to the bird box
Fixing the front panel to the bird box

Step 7

Use the self-tapping screws to fix the top to the sides and the front. This will allow you to remove the top to clean the bird box out.

Screwing the lid on to the bird box
Screwing the lid on to the bird box

Step 8

Drill a hole in the top of the bird box and attach it to a tree using a screw. Position in a sheltered north-east facing spot.

Drilling a hole into the back panel
Drilling a hole into the back panel

Kate Bradbury

If your box doesn’t attract residents within two years, move it to another part of the garden. Ideally the spot should face north-east, 2-4m above ground and with a clear flight path to the entrance. Tilt the box slightly to deflect rain away from any babies inside.

Kate Bradbury