Build Spechthöhle: free construction manual for a woodpecker nesting box

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Build Spechthöhle: free construction manual for a woodpecker nesting box: woodpecker

The intensive agricultural use of meadows, fields and forests has meant that the natural nesting sites for birds have become less and less. Above all, the so-called cave breeders, who hide and raise their offspring in a breeding cave, are affected. The most widespread cave breeder is the woodpecker. Homebuilding nest boxes can be of great help to secure its existence.

breeding behavior

Woodpeckers lay their eggs in cave-like formations, which they prefer to beat into trees. In these caves, they also hatch the eggs and raise their young. Young woodpeckers are therefore typical nest stools. The nesting cave offers a special protection against external influences and especially against nests. If woodpeckers do not find suitable trees to build a breeding cavity in, they will not multiply. At the latest then it can be helpful to create a kind of artificial cave with a self-made nesting box. However, it is important to take into account the specific requirements that woodpeckers make. The focus must be on the dimensions, the size of the entry hole and the height at which the nesting box is placed.


A nesting box is naturally exposed to wind and weather. It therefore goes without saying that it needs building materials that can withstand the effects of the weather. By far the most important material is wood. The nesting box is traditionally made of wooden boards. For some wood species are better than others. For example, spruce boards have all the characteristics they need. Also poplar boards are wonderful bar for a breeding cave made of wood. Whichever wood one chooses, the important thing is that it has a high resistance to moisture. It should not be so easy to tear. So-called compressed wood and plywood, however, completely unsuitable - at least if the nesting box is to be used for more than one season. Natural spruce and poplar boards are easily available in the hardware store or in the wood specialist trade. They also cost relatively little.
Note: The boards should not be planed smooth. On a rough, rough surface, the birds find a better grip.
Other materials needed:
  • two metal hinges to open the lid later
  • Material to seal the roof, such as zinc sheet or tar paper
  • a hook and an eyelet to lock the nest box later safely
  • stainless, galvanized nails or brass screws to assemble the items

Woodpecker cave build instructions

In addition, you should provide yourself with a water-repellent material such as linseed oil. Thus, the entire nesting box is impregnated after completion and made water-repellent. Chemical impregnating agents and paints are taboo. With them, there is a risk that the health of the birds suffers from outgassing. Incidentally, the impregnation must be renewed every year.


A nest box is a relatively simple construction that does not require much effort. The tools that are needed for the construction, you should therefore normally already own. Specifically, you need:
  • Measuring tape, pencil and angle to mark the correct cuts on the components
  • a jigsaw or a foxtail for the blanks
  • Hammer, screwdriver and pincers
  • Drill with hole saw attachment to saw out the Einflugloch can
Tip: If you do not have a hole saw attachment, you can only make do with a drill. With it, a hole is simply drilled and then expanded manually with a rasp to Einflugloch.


As already indicated, a nesting box is an almost simple construction. In principle, it consists only of four side panels, a bottom part and a roof. There is an entry hole at the front of the box to allow the animals to get inside. On a perch should be waived. On the one hand, they do not need the animals, on the other hand, it would make it easier for predators to get to their prey. The roof of the nest box construction can be opened as well as the back. The roof can later be used to control what it looks like inside. And over the open back the box is cleaned after the breeding season.


Birds vary in size and have different needs. Logical that therefore the size of a nesting box should be adapted to the bird species. Basically, a nesting box will be used mainly by cave breeders. We want to build a nesting box especially for woodpeckers. Regardless of the Spechtart the following dimensions have proven:
  • inner width: 150 mm
  • inner height: 280 mm
  • inner depth: 150 mm
  • Diameter entry hole: 45 to 50 millimeters
These dimensions are minimum dimensions that are definitely needed for a woodpecker family. Of course, the nest box may also be a bit bigger. Also important is the strength of the boards used. The ideal thickness is 18 millimeters. Thus, the boards are thick enough to protect the woodpeckers inside the box later in case of need from the cold. 18 mm is also a standard thickness, in which boards are usually cut. It should therefore be very easy to get in the trade.

building instructions

Building a nesting box requires neither a complicated blueprint nor special craftsmanship. The construction is so simple that practically everyone gets it done quickly and without problems. In principle, only six boards are cut to size and then stapled together with nails. Everyone should be able to do that now.


Woodpecker cave build instructions

The first step is to cut the purchased boards to the right size. For this to succeed, the dimensions should be marked beforehand. It should be noted that the back should be slightly higher than the front, to ensure later a roof pitch. This also means that the two side parts above need a corresponding slope from back to front. How strong the tendency turns out is relatively unimportant and is up to you. It should only be ensured that water can drain. The bevels themselves are best recorded with an angle measurement. When marking and also when cutting one should proceed as carefully as possible in order to get accurately fitting individual parts. Precise fitting ensures that the finished nesting box is really tight.

Cut in the entry hole

Before it goes to the assembly, nor the Einflugloch must be cut in the front. The easiest way to do this is with a hole saw attachment on the electric drill. The hole is placed in the middle of the upper third of the front. It should not be too deep, but just under the roof. To do this, just measure the center from left and right and draw a dot at this point in pencil. On this Unkt then sets the top of the LochsÀgeaufsatzes and drills the hole. If you do not have such an attachment, simply drill a hole at the designated point and then manually enlarge it with a rasp.


At the bottom plate, the two side parts and the front part are nailed or alternatively screwed on. Then the three parts have to be completely nailed together.

In the next step, the tar paper or the zinc sheet on the roof with nails or screws attached.

option A

Screw the back into the woodpecker cave.

The hinges are either attached to the back or to the side panels directly next to the back wall. Now set up the hinges to tighten the roof.

Variant B

Before the back is inserted into the construction, screw the two hinges on the front and the side parts next to the front wall.

Then the backside is inserted into the opening and fixed with two nails on the left and right side. The nails serve as a kind of axis, with the help of which the page can be unfolded. In the lower area you also bring an eyelet. With a hook on the bottom plate, the back can then be secured.

Finally, only the roof with the two hinges must be screwed.

Under normal circumstances, the assembly of such a nesting box does not take long. A construction time of about one hour should be completely sufficient. However, it is good to leave a little more time in case of doubt. Care is also evident in nesting box construction Speed. The birds will thank you later.


Build Spechthöhle - free instructions

A nesting box for woodpeckers will usually be attached to a tree. The easiest way to do this is through a left and right protruding bar, which is nailed transversely to the back. On the two sides of the bar, a fastening wire is attached, which must of course be previously led around the tree trunk. It is best to clamp an old, sturdy plastic tube between the wire and the bark to avoid injury to the tree. The wire is then tightened until the nest box is stable. Under no circumstances may the box be nailed directly to the tree. When attaching, it is important that the entry hole is on the leeward side. The box should also be positioned so that it can not be reached by predators, especially cats. By the way, the best time for hanging is autumn, so that the birds can find shelter in the winter.

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