How To Build A Robin Bird Box

Robins often gratefully accept a bird box as their nesting place, and will make their nests out of dead leaves, twigs and moss. If you have robins in your garden, why not build a nesting spot for them!

Here’s a step-by-step guide for how to build your own robin bird box and how to choose where to place it in your garden.

The Robin Redbreast

The European Robin (‘Erithacus Rubecula’) is a common garden bird found in UK parks, gardens, hedge rows and woodland. With a wingspan of 20cm, a length of 12 – 13cm and a weight of 16g – 22g, robins are one of the smaller garden birds. Despite their size, they are actually very aggressive towards other birds, especially other robins and dunnocks.

Robins are easily identifiable by their red-orange neck, chest and throat. They have a brown body, black bill and black legs. Young robins don’t develop their red chest until they are approximately three months old; this trait allows them to blend in more easily with the robin’s nest in order to stay hidden from predators.

How To Build A Robin Bird Box

1. Assemble Your Materials & Tools

The first step is to assemble your materials. You will need a plank or sheet of weatherproof timber that is about 15mm thick. This timber must not be CCA pressure-treated timber, as this can be harmful to birds. You will also need galvanised nails or screws, and a leather or rubber strip (could be a part of inner tubing from a bicycle tire). The tools you will need include a hand saw, tape measure, and a hammer or screwdriver.

2. Use a Pattern to Cut Pieces to Size

The next step is to measure and cut your timber pieces, according to the plan you are using. This bird box plan from Royal Society for the Protection of Birds requires four different rectangular panels, and two trapezoid panels (use the smaller measurements for a robin bird box).

3. Cut the Entrance and Drainage Holes

Once the pieces have been cut, it’s time to make the entrance hole in the front piece. The hole needs to be at least 125mm from the floor of the bird house, in order to prevent predators getting their beaks (or paws!) into the robin’s nest. Robins prefer an open front, so you can skip the hole altogether if you are building a robin bird box in particular. The front will need to be approximately 100mm high.

You can also cut drainage holes in the base of the box, as this will allow water to drain more easily and keep the inside of the box and the robin’s nest dryer for longer.4. Assemble the Pieces

The next step is to assemble the pieces of the robin bird boxusing galvanised nails (or screws). Use a hammer (or screwdriver) to do this, and don’t nail the top of the box down otherwise you won’t be able to clean out the bird box in the autumn. Instead, use the piece of rubber or leather to hinge the roof.5. Place Your Robin Bird Box!

Once the box has been assembled, it’s time to hang it somewhere! It’s best not to treat the box with any preservatives once you have finished, as these can be harmful to birds. Instead, let the box weather naturally over time so that it blends into its surroundings.

Where to Put a Robin Bird Box

Use the following to guide to judge where to place the new robin bird box in your garden:

  • Robins prefer to nest above the ground, so place the box one to two metres above ground level. The height of the robin’s nest keeps the nestling robins safe from ground predators such as cats and foxes, but ensures they are still close to their primary food sources
  • Place the robin bird box in amongst some cover. A box hidden amongst some vegetation is ideal for robins, as they don’t like to build their nests somewhere exposed. This helps to protect from birds of prey such as kestrels, crows, owls and gulls
  • Don’t place the box in direct sunlight. Too much sunlight will cause the box to heat up beyond what the nestlings inside can tolerate, and they may die as a result. A North-East facing bird box is most suitable for this reason
  • Place the robin bird box away from driving rain and wind. This ensures that the inside of the bird box can stay nice and dry for the nestlings. If you place the box in amongst some vegetation this will help to protect it from the elements
  • Tilt the box slightly forward when you secure it somewhere, allowing rain to fall off the roof rather than drip into the box
So, other than getting the placement of your robin birdbox correct, how can you tempt robins to use it? This may sound obvious - a nearby food source! Provide some of the robin’s favourite foods nearby to tempt it to that location. Robins will eat suet cakes, fat balls, mealworms and seeds from a hanging feeder or ground feeding tray. Providing a food source local to the nesting box will tempt robins in, because it means they don’t have to travel as far to feed their hungry nestlings! In addition to this, keep the bird feeders clean to ensure robins come back year after year.

So, there you have it. A step-by-step guide for how to identify robins in your garden, build a nesting box for them, and tempt them to use it! It’s a sad fact that the majority of baby robins don’t make it to one year old, so anything we can do to help them nesting in our gardens is much appreciated!