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How to have a bird nesting box they’ll love

bird nesting box

Not only in spring, but also in autumn and winter, birds are looking for breeding grounds and are also looking forward to shelter and protection from the cold. So it’s just the perfect time to install a nesting box! However, for the birds to be safe and to feel comfortable, there are a few things to consider to have a bird nesting box they’ll love.

When building, buying and attaching nesting boxes, mistakes can quickly creep in, which one might not even think of at first. For the birds, however, even small mistakes can have fatal consequences. The following tips make your nesting box a safe and pleasant shelter.

Tips and tricks for the perfect nesting box

Wood or wood concrete are best suited as a material for nesting boxes, whereas plastic is rather inappropriate. Coniferous wood is recommended, i.e. from spruce, fir or pine, for example.

A sheet metal can be attached around the entry hole. This prevents woodpeckers or squirrels from enlarging the opening and entering the nesting box. There should also be two to four small holes at the bottom of the box with a diameter of about 5mm. They ensure that the nesting box is adequately ventilated and remains dry.

When building or buying, be sure to forgo a seat bar before the entry hole! It is counterproductive,because it does not help the birds to get into the box better, but helps their predators like cats!

Different birds – different nesting boxes!

What the nesting box should look like in concrete terms is mainly related to the bird species that refers to the box. It is therefore best to first observe which birds are in your garden before they build or buy a nesting box. It is important that the entry opening fits the respective bird species.

Small birds such as finches only need an opening with a diameter of about 28 mm, while bigger ones need a 32 mm hole. The opening for the star finch, on the other hand, must already be 45mm in size. Birds such as the blackbird or the robin are also particularly happy about semi-open nesting boxes: with them, the front is only half closed.

Where to go with the nestbox?

When the nesting box is ready, it can also continue with the hanging! Here, too, there are a lot to consider that is often forgotten.

The following aspects play an important role in the assembly of nesting boxes:

  • Protection from the weather: Both a place in the blazing sun and in the total shade is unsuitable for nesting boxes. Optimal is a semi-shady place. To prevent it from raining into the nest box, it should be placed slightly tilted downwards. What many people don’t know: The nesting box should best be installed in such a way that the opening of the flight to the east shows. Hanging it south is a big mistake, because if the box heats up too much inside, it can be very dangerous for the brood!
  • Beware, watch out for nest robbers! The nesting box should hang in a quiet place, where predators like cats are difficult to get to and can’t just climb up. In addition, the nesting box should hang high enough, although this also varies depending on the bird species. In the case of starlings, a height of 1.5 metres is sufficient, while sparrows require a minimum height of three metres.
  • Fixed stop: A single tree trunk or a free-standing mastis best suited for attaching a nesting box. Some bird species also enjoy nesting boxes on buildings. It is important that the box is fixed and does not swing in the wind.
  • Tree-friendly fastening: Aluminium nails are best suited for attaching to tree trunks. You can also pin the box with a wire that they clamp around the tree trunk. A tip to protect the tree: Cover the wire with a rubber hose!

With these tips, birds feel completely at home in your nesting box and like to use them as winter quarters and breeding grounds. 

Build a bird nesting box

You can buy a bird nesting box  ready made in the shops, but it is much more fun to build a nesting box yourself and make it original. Although the designs are a beautiful decoration for the garden, they offer a number of birds a safe shelter for the breeding season. By watching, you know best which bird species are in your garden. Before you start building the birdhouse, you should consider the dimensions and size of the entry hole, which are different for the birds, in the construction plan.

What you should consider when building a bird nesting box

In order for the construction of the birdhouse to succeed, you should not ignore the following points: For birdhouses, needle (spruce) wood is usually used. Plywood or pressed boards must be treated carefully to be weather-resistant. You should use solvent-free paints such as acrylic paints to design the exterior surfaces. Bright colors are more suitable for color selection, as boxes with dark colors can heat up too much.Important! Use only building material that is approved for contact with animals!

Also during the suspension make sure that the box is not exposed to the blazing sun all day long. A placement is ideal if the entry hole is protected from rain towards the east or southeast. After the coolness of the night, the small feathered cattle can warm up again pleasantly through the morning sun. During the day it can be endured well in semi-shade. For ventilation and dehumidification of the birdhouse, two boreholes of about 5 mm in the base plate are necessary.

Birdhouses and especially the content are also attractive for other animals. In order to protect the birds from nest predators such as cats, the houses should hang accordingly high. If the birdhouses are hung on posts, round and conical cuffs made of aluminium sheet can be attached, on which martens and squirrels fail.

Non-toxic wood protection: Paint all woods before assembly with an environmentally friendly wood protection, then the birdhouse lasts much longer and the birds are not exposed to toxins. Colourless wood glaze preserves the fresh, light wood colourandy and the wood is still weather-resistant.


If the fly-in holes at the bird houses are too large, the contents could become a found food for magpies. The nesting aids should be installed in the pre-spring, better still in autumn. The birds can familiarize themselves with the accommodation at an early stage. It also offers them protection from wet and cold in winter.

Cleaning can be done in winter. Remove the old nest and remove dirt with boiling hot water and brush. Whether the fence guests choose your chic model will be revealed in the course of spring.

Building the birdhouse yourself: material and sketch

Cut components from a spruce straight enedge board 1.8 x 19 x 150 cm:

  • Back panel: 1 piece 28 x 16 cm
  • Sidewall: 2 pieces 28 x 14 cm
  • Bottom: 1 piece 12.2 x 12.4 cm
  • Front wall: 1 piece 25 x 12.4 cm
  • Roof: 1 piece 20 x 19 cm
  • Small material: screws, glue, picture frame hanger

This nesting box has the classic dimensions of a house. An approach rod is not necessary for most birds. Only the starlings make an exception here. 

Building a bird nesting box: instructions

If all components for the nestbox are cut (see drawing dimensions), on the table circular saw the marked slant of the side walls is cut.

Screw the back panel with pre-drilled screw holes flush onto the side walls. The loosely inserted front wall and the floor serve as support. Then screw the bottom flush.

Drill the fly-hole – size by bird species – into the front wall.

Smooth the visible edges with a planer.

When screwing the movable front wall, the two opposite screws serve as a turning axis. The flap is fixed with the lower screw.

To ensure that the lateral roof overhangs are the same, mount the console roof in the middle.

Birdhouse 1: Postbox

Already from a distance the box glows in the typical post yellow and attracts the with its signal color. The birdhouse was painted once with diluted paint and painted twice with high-gloss lacquer. Both flaps for the letter slots are only indicated and consist of the rest of a closing bar, which is glued on. The letter is first drawn on a sheet and then transferred to the box with pause d’estilled paper. Use a waterproof felt pen to trace the contours.

Birdhouse 2: Press House

You don’t have to be editor-in-chief to occupy this house. To make the latest news readable a little longer, the newspaper snippets are completely immersed in a bowl of acrylic lacquer. Then gradually bring to the surface and smooth. This can be done with a brush or by hand (rubber gloves are advisable). Quietly glue several layers on top of each other so that the wood tone does not shimmer through. In order not to glue the flap, it is removed beforehand. Finally, cover everything with clear varnish so that water rubs off. Small gag: The approach rod and the ribbon with the inscription “Press”.

Birdhouse 3: Beach cabin

in maritime surroundings probably feel comfortable in the beach cabin. The slatted fence look is simply carved into the soft spruce wood with a pointed screwdriver and protected with a clear varnish. This makes the shade of the wood more intense. The upper part of the nesting box is completely coated twice with white acrylic lacquer and the surfaces are filled with light blue. The life ring consists of a rubber O-ring (sealing ring) which is identical to the diameter of the entry hole. Paint and stick the cardboard sign “Occupied” with clear varnish.

Birdhouse 4: half-timbered house

For nest birds who love cosiness, a half-timbered house is the ideal home. First, the box is primed all round white. The truss beams are pre-glued with a tesab and (2 cm wide) to preserve the contours. Then apply the surfaces thinly with an acrylic lacquer in beige, so that the white shimmers through. Remove tape strips and redraw the “bars” in light brown with a fine brush. Paint bricks in red with joints. Cover the roof with sandpaper (waterproof). Coat the console roof with PU glue and press sandpaper firmly.

Birdhouse 5: Memphis style

Architecture for small birds of paradise. For the facade design we smashed a red tile with the hammer (in the plastic bag so that the pieces do not fly around). The shards are glued to the front and to the right side. Both columns made of pine wood at the portal have 2 cm x and are painted in ultramarine blue and turquoise. Saw out the cutouts at the roof edge with the jigsaw (fine curve blade). Crowning finishes form curtain rod ends made of metal. You can stick felt on the roof, but also moss. Bottle brushes became trees.

Birdhouse 6: Oriental look

In the Far Eastern version we painted the cottage in Japanese red and black high-gloss. To do this, dilute the first coat with a third of water after drying and paint twice with undiluted acrylic paint. Proceed the same with the roof. The lower half of the facade was clad with a bamboo placemat. Cut and glue in the miter drawer. Pre-drill the black chopsticks at the bottom and fasten them with flat-headed nails. Clamp the top end under the nailed bamboo pole on the roof.

Build your own nesting box: A cottage in a quiet location

Depending on where the nesting box is placed, choose the type of suspension. If the boxes are firmly mounted on the house wall, garage or post, attach a vertical bar to the back of the house. This protrudes either above and below above the roof and is fastened with nails or dowels and screws. Or, as with our nesting boxes, it closes with the roof at the top and receives a sturdy metal hanger. Attached to the tree trunk, you should insert galvanized nails (copper damages the tree).

To conserved the tree, a wire hanger that is hung over a strong branch is a good solution. The nesting box must hang freely and must not collide anywhere. Two wires, which are adapted to the stem thickness and which are fixed to the sides of the nest box, provide a better grip. To prevent the wires from growing in, the box must be reattached every year. And think, birds love a free approach, so you can never hang the house in densely branched trees!

Find more great tips and projects in our Pets section, Garden section and Carpentry section.

Gerhardt Richter is a writer and a trainer at trade technical colleges, specializing in carpentry, plumbing, mechanics and construction.