How to make a nest box
The size of the hole on your nest box dictates the kinds of birds you will attract. A 25mm hole will see hopefully encourage visits from blue, coal and marsh tits, while 28mm is more suitable for great tits or tree sparrows. A hole of 32mm is the right size for the house sparrow. Open-fronted boxes are usually used by robins. A nest box is actually pretty easy to make, even if you’re not much of a DIY enthusiast. On the BTO website they have basic instructions and the whole box can be constructed from one plank of wood cut into pieces.
Where to position your nest box
This is probably the most important factor in whether birds will choose your nest box as their new home. You need to ensure that the nest box is sheltered from prevailing winds but also shaded from direct sunlight. The roof needs to be angled to prevent rainwater from entering. Predators are a problem for nesting birds so make sure your nest box cannot be accessed by cats – squirrels can also be a nuisance but it’s harder to keep them away from nest boxes on trees. One way to keep birds safe from squirrels is to use metal plating around the nest box hole. This is produced commercially for the purpose and can be picked up from garden centres or DIY stores. Where you position the box also affects what kind of birds you will encourage to nest – some birds, such as robins, prefer a more secluded box so plenty of shrubbery coverage will help.
Nest Box Challenge
The Nest Box Challenge helps BTO monitor the breeding success of Britain’s nesting birds. Volunteers across the UK submit their updates on the birds using the nest boxes in their garden – nests in trees etc count too. You can join in here. This is a fun way to keep the family excited about the new nest boxes after you’ve built them and put them up, plus you get to be an important part of the conservation effort for British garden birds.