Building Your Own Nesting Box

Provide shelter for an endangered bird

While you can buy a perfectly good nesting box for any type of bird you want to shelter, it's often more fun and less expensive to build one yourself. It's also a great winter project for families and gives children something to look forward to in the springtime. Nesting boxes needn't be complicated; in fact, they're relatively simple to build and can often be built out of one plank of wood.

Nesting boxes can be built out of metal, but it's best to build them out of wood that hasn't been pressure-treated or coated in creosote. Metal nesting boxes can get dangerously hot in the summer sunshine, and unless you want roasted birds and fried eggs, it's best not to use this material. You don't have to buy special wood for your nesting box - you can use scrap material as long as it's safe for the birds. As long as you weather-proof your nesting box, the birds won't feel the effects of the elements.

Building Nesting Boxes

Start by doing research on the types of birds you want to attract to your garden. Different birds require different nesting spaces. Your box should be well-ventilated and easily drained; this is easily done by drilling a few holes below the roof overhang and in the floor of the box. Never paint the inside of a nesting box, as the chemicals from the paint can sicken or kill baby birds. However, do varnish the outside to protect the wood from rotting.

If you're concerned about predators, you can protect your bird tenants by adding squirrel baffles so that animals cannot climb up or down to the box. Squirrels and raccoons get to eggs by chewing existing entrance holes and then reaching into the enlarged space. You can stop this by purchasing a metal plate or wire cage that fits over the hole. This allows birds to fly in and out, but prevents animals from reaching in. To discourage cats, sometimes all that's needed is some thorny material around the nesting box.