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A Plant Pot Bird Box
Written by Kev
Great TitThis is, I think, an interesting alternative to the conventional nest box.
You will need some woodworking skill in order to complete the project from scratch.

 In this example I used:

  • Terra cotta/clay plant pot (6"+ diameter by 7"+ depth approx, see below)
  • A piece of exterior or marine plywood of about 1/4" (6mm) thickness and large enough to cover the top of your pot.
  • 1 1/2" (37mm) piece of approx 3/8" (10mm) dowel
  • Wood glue or PVA
  • Large screw and washer(to affix pot to tree or fence)

  • Set of compasses
  • File
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Saw (capable of cutting a circle)

Terra cotta sometimes breaks when moisture leaks into the surface of the pot and it subsequently freezes. To prevent such problems seal the outside of the pot with Aqua Seal or a similar waterproofing product.

Marking out

You will need to accurately measure the internal diameter of the top of the pot. Take about 1/8th" (3mm) off of this measurement. Using a compass, draw a circle of the correct diameter on the wood.
I used a power fret saw to cut the circle out. You could use a hand fret saw or a jig saw. A jig saw would be best because it enables you to cut into the wood at a 15 - 20 degree angle - see inset below. This ensures a tight, secure fit. When you have cut out the lid, use sandpaper to get rid of any splinters or rough edges. If a fret saw is used, file the circle edge to a 15 - 20 degree angle.
Cutting the lid
Finished hole
Hole saw

Mark the position of the access hole on the lid centered approx. 1 1/2" (37mm) from the top of the lid. (See below for hole sizes). Use a hole saw (shown) to cut out the hole, or a suitably sized wood drill, or whatever means you have available.

Rub down edges of hole with sandpaper.

Perch detail
This is optional, the birds really won't mind if there is no perch. Take a 1 1/2" (37mm) piece of 3/8" (10mm) approx. dowelling and file down one end to give a rounded finish (see inset right). Smooth the surface with sandpaper. Drill out a 'tight fit' hole in the lid, apply glue to the edges of this hole and tap the perch into place.

You will need either a piece of wood with a hole in or a large washer and a large screw. Put the screw through the washer or wood and the hole in the bottom of the plant pot. Affix the nest box securely to a fence or house wall or wherever you wish, ensuring safety from cats etc. Tap the lid gently into the pot to achieve a secure fit. A little glue or mastic can be used if the fit isn't secure, but only use a little as you will want to remove the front for winter cleaning.
Different sizes of pots can be used. Below is a table showing the type of birds that might make use of different sized pots and recommendations of the necessary hole sizes for these birds are also given.

There are of course no guarantees!

Have you completed this project?
We'd love to hear how you got along with it and see your photos.

Pot and hole sizes  Back
Size of pot
(diameter and depth approx.)
5" - 6"
(125mm - 150mm)
6" - 7"
(150mm - 175mm)
7" - 8"
(175mm - 200mm)
8" +
(200mm + )
Size of hole1  1/8"
1  1/4"
1  1/2"
Likely occupantsBlue Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Great Tit
House Sparrow

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