Bird, bug, box

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Bird, Bug, Box Page

Many of our volunteers frequently give up their spare time to make the various sorts of bird and bat boxes as well as feeders; some even take the wood home and make them there. These are then sold at the visitors centre. They also take the time to put together bird box kits for children to make (with a little adult and volunteer help) and take home to put up in the garden (some make their way to grandparent’s gardens) during the February half term break. The volunteers thought you might like to build your own, so please find the details below.


The more of these we can get out there the better!

The first one is a simple bug hotel: The sizes of the pieces of wood needed are listed below.

These pieces are cut from a 1 metre by 150mm wide gravel board.

Back 1 piece 150mm wide by 300mm high
Sides 2 pieces 150mm wide by 200mm high
Top and Bottom 2 pieces 150mm wide by 150mm high

As the picture shows, position the sides to the middle of the back - leaving a space top and bottom to attach it to either a fence, wall or post. Put on the top and bottom, then fill with the drilled out logs and canes with holes in them, there you are, one finished bug hotel.

Bug hotel using canes and drilled holes


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Next is a bat box

Bat boxes

How to make them and where to put them, and some things you need to know before you start.

As well as being one of the most threatened types of mammal in Britain, bats are also among the most misunderstood. Far from being nasty dangerous animals, they are attractive small, furry insect eaters which need all the help they can get!

Bats need a range of roosting sites, including summer daytime roosts, winter hibernation ones and breeding sites. The felling of dead and hollow trees has reduced the availability of natural roost sites for bats. You can help them find a suitable roost by putting up a simple bat box.

There are 16 resident species of Bat in the UK. Eleven of these have been found to roost in bat boxes, six species (common pipistrelle, noctule, leisler’s, natterer’s, daubenton’s and brown long-eared bats) have bred in them.
Just follow the guidelines.

  • Make the box from rough sawn timber to give the bats something to cling to. Make sure the wood is untreated - many wood preservatives can kill bats! The wood should be no less than 20mm thick.
  • The best place to position a bat box is on a tree. Place them in groups round three sides of a tree - bats like to move from one box to another during the day and from season to season as temperatures change.
  • When fixing to a tree use headless nails or domed nails because the tree grows it will absorb the nail and gradually push the box off. Monitor this. Galvanized nails can be used on trees with no commercial value.
  • Put the boxes as high as possible above the ground to avoid predators - some species of bat such as noctules prefer roosts at least 5 meters off the ground.
  • Clear away surrounding branches to give them a clear flight path.
  • Boxes can also be located on buildings. A good position is under the eaves to protect them from bad weather.

Bats can take a while to investigate new premises, but if your box is not occupied within three years, try moving it. You can check if the box is being used by looking for crumbly brown or black droppings on the ground or watching the box as dusk falls.


Dimensions in centimeters



Bat box building details

Positioning bat boxes round a tree trunk
Tree trunk



Tree showing how high bat box should be off the ground


Positioning bat boxes

Bats and their roosts are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is illegal to disturb any bat when it is roosting, or to kill, injure or handle a bat without a license. If your bat box is occupied or you find a sick or injured bat,
contact your local wildlife trust or bat group.

These Bat box details were given to us by www.lincstrust.org.uk/factsheet/


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This next one is what's called a "Kent" bat box


A Kent bat box, this has 3 slots instead of the usual one

Simple to construct, self-cleaning and low maintenance.

The only critical measurement is the width of the crevices—these should be no larger than suggested.
Other measurements are approximate.

Materials and construction
Box must be made from untreated rough-sawn timbers
Timber should be 20mm thick
The box should be rainproof and draught-free
Crevices can be between 15 and 25 mm wide
Fixing may be by use of brackets, durable bands or wires

Boxes are best fixed as high as possible in a sheltered wind-free position, exposed to the sun for part of the day.

They can be fitted to walls, other flat surfaces or trees
A clear flight line to the entrance is important

This design has been developed by Kent Bat Group. We would like to know how successful it is. Please send any comments or records of bats seen using it to: records@kentbatgroup.org.uk

With thanks to Glen Sharman for help in producing the prototype and Lloyd Bore for providing the plans.

Kent Bat Group
Reg Charity No. 1079767

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bird box and table




The above details are taken from an Essex Wildlife Trust handout. There is a link on the Links page to the Essex Wildlife Trust.

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Nest box contruction details

See under the next picture to clarify what each letter stands for in these descriptions.

The details of bird boxes above and below were taken from the book titled "Creating your own Back Garden Nature Reserve" written by Chris Packham printed in 2003, with a forward by David Bellamy, ISBN number 1 85605 846 8. I have put a link on the Links page to Amazon.co.uk, but I can only find used ones that these details came from. There is a new 2010 paperback copy now available, I have not seen a copy, so do not know if these boxes are included in it.

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Tawny Owl, Swift and Tree Creeper nest box details


I am sure you realise that T = Top, B = Bottom, S = Sides, F = Floor, Dr = Door and Fr = Front.

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