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HOW TO MAKE A SPARROW NEST BOX

Unlike most birds, both the house and tree sparrow are a communal nesting variety and are perfectly happy to live side by side. The 4 box design shown was occupied in its first year and continues to be well liked by the birds but there is nothing to stop you doubling or trebling the size. Modern house design leaves no spaces for sparrows to build nests in so you will need to provide some. Two nest boxes side by side will fit neatly into the space formed inbetween the eaves of a house and are ideal for sparrows. Use the general rules given on the Building a Birdbox page as a basis for construction and just vary the sizes to suit your available space - Note: The dividing wall between two boxes can be very thin plywood and put the entry holes at opposite ends of each box to give more seperation. Even those houses that DO have spaces for sparrows to nest in will benefit from the addition of some extra nest boxes. Why? - Because many young birds stick to the underside of the parent bird (especially when newly hatched) and get accidentaly taken out of the nest, especially when the nest itself is built in a non-ideal location. Your nest box is ideal as the chick cannot remain stuck to the parent as it exists the hole and stays safely inside the box.

Outside of breeding times, your nestbox is very likely to be used by roosting birds as a safe, dry place to stay.

2002 - 2014 - Box Used each year by at least 1 pair of Sparrows. Never had more than 2 pairs though. 2012 - Empty and less birds around.

Run your pointer over the picture and click for full building instructions.

Click for the latest FREE building plan (195Kb)

Other Factors to consider - gained through experience

Location

  • Ideally fix the box at a height of 5m+ above ground with a direct flight path in.
  • The best way to fix your box is to drill four holes in the tree / wall, insert plastic masonry plugs and fix using brass woodscrews. This is rotproof and will not damage the tree (using ordinary steel nails or screws can / might).
  • If possible, face the holes away from prevailing winds - in the UK the holes should face between NE and SE (away from W).
  • Surround the entrance hole with a non ferrous metal plate if you have trouble with woodpecker / squirrel predation.
  • Locate the box out of direct sunlight except for early mornings.
  • Locate the box away from anything (branch wall etc.) that could help cats get close.
  • Don't wait until Autumn to put your box up - It takes time for the birds to get used to anything new, so put the box up as soon as you can - anytime of year.
  • Be patient!

Construction

  • Actual size and shape of box not critical. Aim for a floor area 5" x 5" or larger (130mm x 130mm).
  • Construct from exterior grade wood 25mm (1") thick (better insulation).
  • Wood can be any type though hardwood will last longer.
  • Use copper or galvanised nails (no rust).
  • Seal all joints to exclude draughts.
  • Drill a couple of holes in the floor of each box for drainage.
  • Treat the outside of the box only - use an animal friendly preservative.
  • Do not add an outside perch (can be used by predators).
  • Hinge the lid with thick rubber ie inner tube or pond liner and secure shut with a fastener or woodscrew.
  • Covering the roof with roofing felt will prolong box life and if you allow the felt to wrap over the sides, will help prevent rain and draughts from getting inbetween lid and sides.
  • Drill four (or more) mounting holes in the back board - top and bottom.
  • Leave the interior surfaces rough (helps chicks climb out).
  • If practical, clean out each autumn and sterilise with boiling water or short term insecticide.
  • Prime the box with a little dry moss after cleaning.
  • Cut each entry hole at a slight upward angle and at least 5" from the floor - Higher = better.
  • Hole Size is 32mm for sparrow

Since building the box above, experience would suggest the following slight modifications:

  • The wavy trim on the front edge of the roof section needs to be larger to give additional protection from predators and the wind. Add another 1" or more to its height so that it covers more of the exposed hole area.
  • The roof needs to be another 2-3" wide. This will allow the wavy trim section to be carried right around the sides to give additional protection to the two side openings.
  • Hinges were supposed to be brass.
  • Photo of latest design - Box 4 is drilled for Great Tit (experimental) - Note the roof overhang. Success (or otherwise) will be reported in due course. 2012 update: No good I'm afraid. Great Tits just will not put up with other birds anywhere near their own residency. Saw the end box off and convert to a standalone.

Misc

Feathers scattered around the garden in spring will be greatly appreciated by sparrows to help with nest building. They prefer light coloured ones, white is favorite.

Your sparrow terrace box is likely to be used all year around for both nesting and roosting. Be warned, sparrows can be noisy especially when feeling happy!!

Don't forget to feed your sparrows to keep them in prime breeding condition. See the Feeding Page for ideas of what to give them to eat or make a fatcake for them.

Please report back any success / failure / suggestions for things to include / improve.

Note that all the information presented above is based on practical experience gathered over the last year.

Regards from the staff at DTSystems and have fun building some boxes!

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