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Bright autumn colours with lots of seeds for sparrows to feast on
Bright autumn colours

with lots of seeds for
the sparrow feast

Early in March 2007, we saw an article in our Dutch local newspaper about sparrow hotels and our curiosity was immediately aroused.

We contacted the LMNH - Landschap Natuur en Milieu Haaren (Foundation for Nature and Environment in Haaren) and became members.

The LMNH has a project to help the sparrow in their area of Brabant by encouraging people to hang communal nest boxes - a sparrow hotel - on their properties.

We discussed the idea of spreading the knowledge on cottage-garden.org with the LMNH and they agreed to allow us to provide an English-language version of their Dutch-language instructions for building a communal sparrow nest for three families.

A big thank you to our friends at the LMNH!

Work Plan and Guide

Materials and Tools Required

LMNH original specifications
LMNH originals
NB: The original specifications require the use of a power-driven lathe which many do-it-yourself enthusiasts simply don't possess.

If you have a lathe, please feel free to use the original (translated) instructions.

The work plan, measurements and guide below have been slightly changed and do not require a lathe.

  1. Multiplex plywood 18mm (0.71 inch) 10 pieces needed:
    1. Front and back sections: 2 = 432 x 260 mm (17 x 10.2 inches);
    2. Left and right sides: 2 = 278 x 120 mm (10.9 x 4.7 inches);
    3. Internal nest partitions: 2 = 260 x 120 mm (10.2 x 4.7 inches);
    4. Floor: 1 = 396 x 120 mm (15.6 x 4.7 inches);
    5. Roof: 1 = 470 x 160 mm (18.5 x 6.3 inches);
    6. Latches for fitting the roof to the nest box: 2 = 120 x 50 mm (4.7 x 2 inches).
  2. Stainless steel screws (28) to suit and a screw driver for the construction of the sparrow hotel;
  3. Rawl plugs, stainless steel right-angle support screws - 2 x 5 mm (0.2 inch) and a small hammer - to hang up the nest.
  4. Environment-friendly, exterior quality, all-weather:
    1. Metal primer;
    2. Undercoat suitable for both primed metal and wood;
    3. Paint in the natural colour(s) of your choice;
    4. Paint brushes as required.
  5. Drill (hand or power driven) with a:
    1. Countersink drill bit for the 28 fixing points;
    2. 3.5cm (1.4 inch) bit for the three flight openings for the left, front and right rooms;
    3. 5 mm (0.2 inch) bit for the two holes (left and right, back) needed to attach the nest to a wall or tree;
    4. Self-retracting pocket tape measure - 5 meters (15 feet) is more than enough.

Step by Step Guide 1 Link to detailed image

  1. Countersink the screw holes:
    • 8 each on the back and front sections for the left and right sides and the two internal partitions (total = 16) - select image link 1 for front view detailed measurements;2 Link to detailed image
    • 2 each on the base of the left and right sides (total = 4) - select image link 2 for side view detailed measurements;
    • 2 each on the floor section for the left and right internal nest partitions (total = 4) - select image link 3 for floor view detailed measurements;3 Link to detailed image
    • 2 each on the latches for the roof (total = 4).
  2. Drill the:
    • Flight holes - 3.5cm (1.4 inch), 1 each, centered, 6.5cm below the top, in the front (link 1 above), left and right (link 2 above) sections;
    • Attachment holes - 5 mm (0.2 inch) in the back section (1 hole left and 1 hole right) for hanging the nest. Then drill the attachment holes to fit in the wall or tree and use the hammer to gently tap in the rawl plugs;
  3. Attach the:
    1. Left and right sides and the internal nest partitions to the back (same as the front = link 1 above) section using 8 screws;
    2. Floor within the left and right sides and screw the sides to the floor - 4 screws, link 2 above;
    3. Attach the floor to the internal nest partitions with 4 screws;
    4. Front section to the left and right sides and the internal nest separators with 8 screws;
    5. Latches to the roof section - 4 screws.
  4. Use to the sparrow hotel as follows:
    1. Prime the 24 outer screw heads with metal primer;
    2. Apply an undercoat to the outside of the nest box and roof;
    3. Finish it off in the colours of your choice - here's a sample Painted sparrow hotel - © LMNH, used with permission of a painted sparrow hotel.
    4. Our sparrow hotel nest boxes are painted yellow with a greenish tinge with the roof colour in a traditional hunting green used widely for doors and window shutters throughout the province of Brabant in the Netherlands;
  5. Hang your home-built sparrow hotel on the north-east side of your home with the stainless steel right-angle support screws at a height of 3.5 meters (about 11½ feet) or more above ground level and you're done!

Wait and see: In the first year the results may not be very encouraging (your sparrow callers need to get used to the new feature), but all should be well from the second year.

However, other birds may well use the hotel in the first year - like our blue tits right now - so your patience will be rewarded.

On 3rd March 2007 we hung two nest boxes on the north-east wall of our cottage so they don't get too warm in the summer months.

Currently (early April), two rooms are occupied by two loving couples. Only thing is, they are bluetits - Parus caeruleus - and we didn't have the heart to refuse entry to them.

The LMNH have promised to supply bodyguards in future to prevent occupation by "undesirable squatters".

Like to visit, see and enjoy the Brabant countryside we live in? Do it the healthy - and fun - way with a recumbent bicycle - we've had one for years and it's great fun. Helps keep you fit too.

It would be wonderful if you contact us with your results after you've built your own sparrow hotel!

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