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This article comes from the BTO’s Nestboxes: Your Complete Guide. Learn more.

© British Trust for Ornithology. Used with permission.

Make your own small hole nestbox


Here we show you how to build Britain's most popular nestbox that attracts all common hole nesting species. Also see our plans for building an open-fronted box that's great for Robins and Wrens.

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The perfect nestbox for woodworking novices and people who only have small gardens, this design will suit the needs of a wide range of birds and can be made from new or recycled wood.

A successful box needs to have sides and a roof which are water tight, but to avoid any risk of the interior becoming waterlogged it is sensible to drill drainage holes in the floor.

Our cutting guide (below) shows how you can cut all the components you need to make a small box from a single plank, but treat the measurements as a guide only.


As a rough guide, if you make your box wide enough to accommodate an adult human hand you will find it easy to clean out used nesting material at the end of the breeding season.

The roof


Make sure your roof panel is

long enough to overlap the side

containing the entrance hole

– this will stop rain dripping inside

and may also provide shade from

the sun. A piece of wood big enough to

overlap all sides of the box  is better for weather protection. An angled roof allows rain to run off freely, but a flat- topped box will be fine if it can be fixed to a tree so that the entrance hole is pointing slightly downwards.

Positioning the entrance hole


Nesting birds tend to prefer a box with the hole in the front panel, rather than the side. A hole on the front is likely to provide a better view for a bird leaving the box, allowing it to more readily spot potential predators. 

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Who's in the house?

See our profile of the Blue Tit, a common occupant of small hole nestboxes


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