Create a sparrow street

Introduce a nestbox or two and give house sparrows somewhere to colonise and raise their chicks.

Activity time:
More than 2 hours
Difficulty level:
Hard
Suitable for:
Balcony/roof, Small garden, Large garden, Medium garden
To help:
Birds

Introduce a nestbox or two and give house sparrows somewhere to colonise and raise their chicks.

House sparrows are in trouble – the UK population has halved for reasons that we don't fully understand. However, there are definitely things you can do to help, and a good start is to put up a nestbox (or several, sparrows like having friends nearby!) on your house walls.  

 

You can build a sparrow box whenever you like, but it's a job that can be done indoors on rainy days when there's not as much to do in the garden.

 

You should see the males proudly chirping from nearby, or even from the roof of the box. Don’t worry if sparrows don't move in right away – it may take a while for a colony to start where you live. But you'll be ready when they do!

 

If you’re short on time or DIY skills you can buy a sparrow nestbox.

 

Are you doing this activity as part of your personal plan? Either take a look at your progress or create your own easy-to-follow personal plan to help you give nature a home where you live.

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What you will need

  • A plank of FSC wood 15cm x 1.4m long x 1.5-1.8cm thick and not pressure treated
  • Pencil and tape measure
  • Saw
  • Nails
  • Strip of waterproof rubber
  • Drill
  • Optional: a special drill bit for making 3.2cm holes
  • Ladder 
  • Screws

Sparrow terrace nestbox

Provides three separate nest boxes in one FSC certified timber terrace, each with its own 32 mm entrance hole.

Buy now

Step-by-step guide

How to cut the wood for your house sparrow nestbox.  Two sides: 150 mm wide, with one side 200 mm high and the opposite side 250 mm high. This means that the roof will slope down towards the front. Front: 150 mm wide by 200 mm. Cut a round hole, 32 mm in diameter, 150 mm up from the bottom. Roof: 150 mm by 210 mm. Base: 150 mm by 120 mm. Drill five drainage holes into this piece. Back: 150 mm by 350 mm.  The roof of the box should start 60 mm from the top of the back piece. The base of the box should be 50 mm up from the bottom of the back piece. When assembled, a strip of rubber covering the join between the back and roof will make the box waterproof.

  1. Make sure you have a suitable place for your nestbox. Ideally, it will be under the eaves of your house or high on a wall, and make sure you permission if you need it. 

    The box will need to be at least 3 m (10 feet) from the ground, facing somewhere between north and east to avoid it getting too hot or wet. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight, and don't put it over a doorway or well-used path.

  2. Make sure you have the right wood. The thickness is important to insulate the box from cold and heat and to stop the box warping). You can use exterior-quality plywood (for a light box) or, for something more sturdy, hardwoods (such as oak and beech) or soft wood (such as pine, but this will deteriorate more quickly). Buy timber approved by the Forest Stewardship Council – look for the FSC logo.

  3. Measure and cut your wood according to the diagram. 

    Note: the dimensions shown are for 15mm thick wood. If your wood is different to that, the dimensions of the Base should be 150mm by 150mm minus 2 x thickness of the wood, eg if the wood is 18mm thick, the base should be 150mm x 114mm. 

    If you don't have the special drill bit for making the 3.2cm round hole, you can use a jigsaw to cut a square or wedge-shaped hole at the top of the front, as in the diagram.


  4. Nail all the pieces, except the roof, together. The sides, back and front 'wrap around' the base.

  5. Attach the roof. By using screws, you’ll be able to get into the box at a later stage to clean it out. Use a waterproof strip to make a hinge between the top edge of the roof and the backing board. Try a piece of bicycle tyre inner tube, damp-proof membrane or roofing felt.

  6. Put your box up. Drill guide holes in the backing plate at the top and bottom of the box. Taking care, fix the box to a wall using a ladder, screws and Rawlplugs.

  7. What to look for. Sparrows will start house hunting in spring. There is never a guarantee of using your box, but if you're lucky you should see the males proudly chirping from nearby, or even from the roof of the box.Sparrows are sensitive to disturbance at the nest and protected by law. So watch and enjoy from a distance. You may be lucky to see them raising several broods in there in a season.

Marking up wood
Sawing wood

Creating a sparrow street

Create a Sparrow Street/Assemble/Drill/Hinge/Make a home/ buy some homes/Arrange/Fix/Create a street

Play video

Watch this short video on how to encourage these charming birds to call your house a home.

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