At the time of writing, the RSPB webpage was available from <here>

However, upon giving full acknowledgement to the RSPB, below are concise extracts from that webpage which are relevant to wood turners :

The bottom of the entrance hole must be at least 125 mm from the inside floor of the nest box. If it's less, young birds might fall out or be scooped out by a cat. The inside wall below the entrance hole should be rough to help the young birds to clamber up when it's time for them to leave.

Putting it together

Drill drainage holes to the base of the box, and use galvanised nails or screws to assemble. It's always best to leave the box untreated. As it weathers, it will blend into its surroundings. 

Softwood boxes can be treated with selected water-based preservatives, which are known to be safe for animals, such as Sadolin. Apply it only to the outside of the box, and not around the entrance hole. Make sure the box dries and airs thoroughly before you put it up. 

A woodpecker box should be filled with a block of balsa wood, rotting log or wood chips woodpeckers like to excavate their own nesting cavities.

How big does the hole need to be?

The entrance hole size depends on the species you hope to attract: 

A box with 100 mm high open front may attract robins or pied wagtails. A wren would need a 140 mm high front panel, while spotted flycatchers prefer a low 60 mm front to the box.


Choosing the location

Things to consider when choosing where to position your nest box include:

Attaching your nest box

Before you put up your nest box, remember to keep in mind the following:
  • Fixing your nest box with nails may damage the tree. It is better to attach it either with a nylon bolt or with wire around the trunk or branch. Use a piece of hose or section of car tyre around the wire to prevent damage to the tree. Remember that trees grow in girth as well as height, and check the fixing every two or three years.
  • Open-fronted boxes for robins and wrens need to be low down, below 2m, well hidden in vegetation. Those for spotted flycatchers need to be 2-4m high, sheltered by vegetation but with a clear outlook. Woodpecker boxes need to be 3-5m high on a tree trunk with a clear flight path and away from disturbance. 
  • Nest boxes are best put up during the autumn. Many birds will enter nest boxes during the autumn and winter, looking for a suitable place to roost or perhaps to feed. They often use the same boxes for nesting the following spring. Tits will not seriously investigate nesting sites until February or March.