How to build a bird box for house sparrows

Where have all the sparrows gone? It's hard to imagine that this once common British bird is in serious decline in some parts of the country, particularly in London. Nationally there has been a 50% fall in sparrow numbers since 1979.

Click on any of the pictures below for an enlarged view and for more information

Sparrows often nest under the eaves of houses but many modern houses are not 'sparrow friendly'. This bird box will help reverse the decline.

The de-luxe version (!) with its felted roof

Sparrows are gregarious birds. This home made nest box uses 12mm exterior plywood and will accommodate up to three breeding pairs of house sparrows.

Please check that any plywood you use for your bird boxes comes from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) sources. FSC certified tropical hardwood plywood ensures that the use of the material will not damage forests, harm wildlife or jeopardise the future of people whose lives depend on the forests. An easiliy available source would be B&Q as B&Q (UK) announced that from September 2009 it would only buy Forest Stewardship Council timber and that the FSC label would be on the timber product.

The 3 bird box compartments Almost complete. Roof and hanging brackets now installed 32mm holes, and a removeable front for winter cleaning

A cutting plan can be found and printed by clicking here. Picture 1, above, shows what looks basically like a book rack, with 3 separate compartments. A roof overhang at the sides and front (picture 2) helps to help keep the interior dry. The small batten part way up the side gives the young birds a chance for a peek at the outside world before making that all important first flight. Waterproof wood glue and number 4 brass screws were used to secure the panels. The front is fixed with screws only, to enable the box to be cleaned out at the end of the season.

The 32 mm holes accommodate house sparrows, tree sparrows and nuthatches. Keep the hole near the roof to deter predators and drill a couple of small holes in the base of each compartment to keep the nest dry. Water-based wood stain can be used to enhance and protect the nest box, but on the outside of the box only. Try also to keep any preservative away from the entrance hole. Fenceguard and Sadolin Classic are recommended by the manufacturers as being suitable products. Cuprinol TimberCare (for use on rough sawn timber) is also safe to birds when dry.

Ideally fasten the box close to the eaves of the house, as in the picture on the right. This would be the birds' natural choice of location. Try and use a direction between north and east to avoid strong sunlight. This box was fixed on 12th January. It was not used by house sparrows, but great tits decided to nest in the centre section!

Sparrow terrace - room for 3 nesting pairs

| Sparrow terrace - the cutting plan | | How to build a blue tit nest box |
| Installing a miniature camera inside a nest box - View the images on your TV |
| Feed the Birds - seasonal feeding tips |

Durham City Arts had an innovative public art project called -
'The Best Bird Boxes in Britain: A City in the Sky' - See below

Click on the pictures for an enlarged view

Durham bird boxes -'A City in the Sky'
Durham bird boxes -'A City in the Sky'

Photographs by John Kelly - used with permission

The Best Bird Boxes in Britain: A City in the Sky