Making nest boxes

Happy New Year! Having a break from conservation volunteering for two weeks over Christmas seemed like a good opportunity to make some nest boxes. They can be bought fairly cheaply, but some of the bought ones are fiddly to put up and difficult to clean out. The designs shown on the BTO and RSPB websites are easy to make and have none of the problems.

Ten boxes ready to go

I bought a pack of floorboards which was enough timber to make ten boxes, some metal plates to protect the entrance holes and special ‘tree friendly’ aluminium nails to fix the boxes to trees. The timber is untreated, which may not last very long, but at least the birds won’t be poisoned by preservatives. I used roofing felt to protect the box lids and provide a hinge so the lids can be opened for inspection and cleaning. The lids are secured with a single screw, to prevent predators lifting them up.

There are three ‘standard’ holes sizes and three heights for open-fronted boxes, to suit different bird species. To keep things simple, I decided to make six boxes with 28mm holes, for great tits, tree sparrows or the smaller tits, and four open-fronted boxes, with 100mm high fronts, for robins or pied wagtails.

Nest box in the woods

Open-fronted box lower down in the gorse

My first conservation volunteering day of the year happened to be at my local nature reserve, Allerthorpe Common, where I planned to put up the boxes. We put up eight boxes in the reserve – five with 28mm holes in the woods and three open-fronted lower down in the gorse. I’ve saved the other two for my garden. The aluminium nails were very soft and I had to drill guide holes to avoid bending them.

How I made the boxes

The BTO and RSPB websites both have instructions for making next boxes. The entrance hole plates and aluminium nails came from NHBS.



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