Thursday 29 January 2015

Building a nesting-box

Last weekend was the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch (a survey of bird populations, reliant on observations by amateur bird-watchers). I didn't participate in the survey myself, but I thought it was a good occasion on which to do my bit towards helping the birds, by constructing a nesting-box.

I'm not a skilled carpenter, so my efforts are a bit amateurish. No precise measurements, no finesse here, but it will probably serve the purpose well enough!

My nesting-box is constructed from a plank of good-quality chipboard left over from when our kitchen was re-done. It has been sitting in the garage for the last couple of years, waiting for just this sort of opportunity. [Our garage is full of bits and pieces that will "come in useful one day"!]

I sawed the plank into the relevant lengths (to my own design) with a handsaw. Two sides (notice that one end is angled), back, front, base and lid.

The entry-hole in the front was made with this gadget (I don't know what it is called), which fits onto an electric drill:

The only one I have makes a 25mm hole, which would be OK for Bluetits, but a bit tight for Great Tits or anything bigger, so I widened the hole to about 30mm.

I made two holes high up in the back piece, which are used for attaching the nesting-box to a tree. They look neat on this side, but the exit-hole on the other side ended up very ragged (you will see this in a later photo). This is one of the hazards of using chipboard rather than real wood.

I also drilled some holes in the base, for drainage and attachment purposes.

The box was simple to assemble, using some 40mm (1.5") nails. The lid was attached with a small hinge found in my spares box:

You can see here the ragged "exit-holes" I described earlier

Making the lid hinged will mean that the box is easy enough to clean when necessary. Actually, I expect it will probably only last a year (two at most), because the chipboard will fall apart quite rapidly!

Anyway, here is the finished item:

I'm quite proud of that. Even if it only lasts one nesting-season it will have been worthwhile, constructed as it is from odds and ends costing effectively nothing. It only took me about an hour and a half to make too - and half of that was spent ferrying all the tools, nails, wood etc outside and then back in again when I had finished! And at least I now have a workable "template" if I decide to make another box with better materials (that's to say, proper wood, as opposed to chipboard).

As the sun went down I scrambled up a ladder and fixed the box in place in my Bronze Maple tree at a height of about 12 feet above ground level.

It looks precarious, but it isn't. The main weight of the box is supported by a tree-branch about two inches in diameter, and it is secured top and bottom with lengths of strong plastic washing-line cord.

So, let's see if anyone moves in...

P.S. I'm re-publishing this post since I accidentally posted two yesterday, leaving nothing for today.


  1. Your nesting box looks great, I'm sure someone will put an offer soon! :) We've got 2 nest boxes in our small garden. One is a tattered old wood box that was already here when we bought the house. The other one is a a super-dupper hardwood one, with copper plate around the hole (to deter predators enlarging the hole), fancy design, etc etc. As you might have guessed, every single year the bluetits choose the old box to nest. The new one was only occupied once in 6 years... And a curious thing happened last year: bumblebees took residence in the nest box! Anyway I think a nest box it's a wonderful addition to a garden. I love to watch the birds bringing in nesting material, then making a mad rush trying to feed the chicks. Your tree looks beautiful, I'm sure the birds will be very happy to nest there. :)

  2. Nice looking nestbox.
    Pity the chipboard will disintegrate so quickly, as you say.
    I think if you had of painted the board, especially the end grain, it would have lasted a lot longer.
    And maybe stuck some scrap sheet metal or plastic to the lid.
    Leftover paint is usually easy to get free, if you are not choosy about the colour.

  3. I will be interested to know if you have any birds move in. I have tried to encourage nesting birds in my garden but have never had any move into the boxes I made. I guess there are too many bush options here on the farm.

  4. Well done, Mark. I never have any spare bits of wood lying around but this puts a good idea out there into blogland. I hope you get some occupants although I think birds like to take their time in checking out something new! Good luck!

  5. I hope you get some takers. I've had a nest box which Mick's uncle made for us in the garden for quite a few years but not one family has moved in. It's actually dropped to bits this winter so I picked one up in Wilkinson's sale for a few pounds, it just needs putting up now. I hope this one attracts the birds more than the old one did.

  6. Nice work! I hope you get some new neighbors!

  7. Fingers crossed for residents. I can never really understand what makes the birds choose one box rather than another.


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