Bird Barn logo
Sparrow inspects bird box fixed to tree trunk using galvanised wire rope

How to fix a bird box to a tree

Fixing a bird box up in a tree is going to be the most natural location is can be, so let's see how to secure it to a tree trunk in the most environmentally friendly way.

How to attach a bird box to a tree is with use of two lengths of galvanised wire rope, metal cable ties or more user friendly plastic coated wire, like a washing line. What you do is wrap either option around the bird box in two sections for safety - before wrapping it around the tree trunk to secure.

To buy galvanised wire rope would pretty much solve your how to fix bird boxes to a tree dilemma in one go, with no other method needed at this point.

Galvanised wire rope is both rust proof yet heavy duty, with no chance of it breaking - thus a risk of the bird box collapsing, would be an unlikely occurrence.

What else can be used other than galvanised wire rope is indeed metal cable ties.

Short, two lengths of strong metal cable ties are needed to create two tie points, so if one fails the other would take hold.

Doubling up tie points for metal cable ties or galvanised wire rope is a good practice.

Something a little more gentle on the hands is the use of plastic coated wiring, it can be cut with scissors while tied in a knot to secure bird box to the tree trunk.

How you fix a galvanised wire rope or cable tie to a bird box can be avoided if connecting the end points behind the tree trunk - because it can be ugly so needs hiding.

Do not use screws or nails to attach a bird box to a tree, as it would serve to only damage your precise tree.

Where to actually site the bird box in the tree is up to you, but to prioritise a safe height while making sure its out of direct sunlight is a must.

Long lasting galvanised wire rope

One way that cannot damage the delicate bark of a tree trunk is the use of a galvanised wire rope - in thicknesses of 4mm to 6mm to be perfectly OK to use.

How to fix the galvanised wire rope is the most important step, so here's out its done.

You can first drill two holes on both sides of the wooden bird box, to thread the wire rope in - then tie it back around to connect to the wire rope clamp - tightening clamp screws to press onto the galvanised wire rope.

Don't drill all the way in as its needed to fix on eye hook screws to thread wire through.

And that's it, use galvanised wire rope as a simple yet effective way of fixing any kind of bird box to a tree - or drilling can be avoided if creating a tight wrap around the tree.

I would recommend following these instructions to wrap around galvanised wire rope in two sections - the lower and top half of the bird box.

Heavier wooden bird boxes would benefit most, but there's no harm in playing it safe with much smaller, lighter bird boxes setup in your garden.

Insert through rear fixing

Once in a while, the opportunity to fix a tree to a more difficult tree trunk can be achieve with use of its current rear fixing plate.

It could be brass or a steel plate, but the design of this could be used to thread the wire rope or plastic coated wire through.

Benefit to that is the need not to customise your own fixing; but you can screw in an eye screw or use a screw with eye bolt if its needed.

Obviously, this isn't always going to be the case as not all bird boxes come with fixings.

Well, actually they don't need fixings most of the time as all that's needed is a screw drilled into a brick or post - to then hook it onto the pre-drilled hole in the rear of the box box.

Drilled holes such as these are designed not to enter the bird box, as to maintain its integrity - so there's little wiggle room to make it useful.

If its doesn't come with any sort of brass or steel backing, the, the use of an heavy duty hinge can be used, as to trap the galvanised wire rope or plastic coated wiring through it.

Simply screw down a suitable door hinge flush against the rear of the bird box, but not before positioning the plastic or wire rope through it.

Improvised rear wooden panel

Bird box fixed to tree trunk using plastic wiring threaded through wooden panel
One effective solution to fixing a bird box to a tree is first securing a length of wood to its rear, before threading through plastic coated wiring to tie around the tree trunk.

In the same lines as using a more heavy duty metal door hinge, as mentioned above, a cut panel of timber could be all you need.

Now, this applies to finding a way to help fix the galvanised wire or plastic rope to the bird box without damaging it - so wire is going to be needed to eventually wrap around the trunk of the tree.

What you do then is screw on a plank of cut down wood - say 100mm by 150mm - with a thickness of 15mm to the bird box backing. Similarly, as pictures, is using a longer length of wood but the connection points are less discreet, which isn't a problem really.

Up to four screws would do it but position them in a way that won't effect where the plastic coated or galvanised wire rope is intended to be threaded through.

Simply begin the process of adding the wood piece to the bird box backing, but don't push it firmly on just yet. Make sure to thread the wire through first while positioning it actually where its needed, then proceed to secure it on tight.

Never use any adhesive as this is only going to be a temporary fix as you may need to think again about its positioning - or if you need to bring it down to clean and maintain.

Metal cable ties if small tree log

Let's move away with how to fix a bird box to a tree be using of galvanised wire rope or plastic coated wire for second, while turning to alternatives.

What I would say though, a long length of galvanised wire rope is needed for big, heavy bird boxes that need fixing to a large tree trunk.

However, the long length it not needed on peoples small garden tree, so we can then turn to something a little more practical, without needed to cut the wire short.

Have you thought about using very handy but hard wearing metal cable ties.

Now, its no good in most cases for a large tree as the length needed in cable ties is not sold as - but for a small tree, its the perfect solution.

No extra fixings or a clamp needed like galvanised wire rope either, as cable ties are self-sustaining. Meaning they wrap around an object - such as a tree trunk - then connect on the opposite side of the cable end.

Careful as you go as you can cut your hands in metal cable ties, so use gloves if you can.

But to tie cable ties around the tree, plus the depth of the bird box must be taken into consideration. Use up to two cable ties to wrap around the top and bottom section of the wooden bird box, to guarantee a secure fit.

Tighten it so much the cable ties press into the wooden bird box and tree trunk a little bit.

Use plastic coated washing line

Unlike the use of galvanised wire rope or metal cable ties the ability to tie a knot is not a possibility, but certainly something that is needed for this purpose.

You know what can be tied, that's plastic coated wiring, which is basically a washing line.

Snip the length you need with with a pair of pliers, but scissors would work too, but be careful as you go as the thin metal wire is pretty sharp, I can tell you.

What you need is two identical lengths of plastic coated wire, say up to 3 feet, as to provide a enough length to wrap around the small or large bird box - all while more length is needed to tie a strong knot.

No ugly knot should be in sight so make sure its in a more discreet area, such as on the opposite side of the tree trunk you've fixed the bird box to.

Why you would use plastic coated wiring is because its not only hard wearing, water-proof - but easy to use - but the internal metal wiring acts as a backup if indeed the plastic coating were to fail.

Double up tie points

I've mentioned it a few times thus far, but I can't stress it enough to always, always use two tie up points on the bird box.

What that refers to is making sure to use two length of galvanised wire rope, metal cable ties or plastic coated wire.

Each length would then be used to tie around the top and bottom half of the bird box, so if one length were to fail on you, there's always a backup point.

To tie two lengths around the bird box and the corresponding tree trunk, it can be easy to cover up the bird box entrance hole in the process. Be careful then to never risk the rope or wire working its way up or down to the vital entrance hole.

What else can be a problem when fixing a bird box to a tree, is it is possible to block the panel that is used to access inside the bird box.

It must be accessed once in a while as the bird box would need cleaning out, but it may need inspection once in a while for the well being of the birds or eggs inside.

I would recommend then to buy a bird box with roof access, as oppose to a side panel.

Hang bird box as extra security

Woodcrete bird box hanging up in tree
Seen is a specialty woodcrete bird box hanging up in tree using a metal hanger, but it could benefit with use of a wire rope for extra security.

Of course, a simple solution to your fixing a bird box to tree dilemma, is indeed thinking about how to hang a bird box instead.

Bird boxes designed to be hung tend to be made with a large hanger or small hook fixed on top, perfect it would be then to use as a way to fix the bird box to a tree.

But I would still recommend using an independent hanging point just in case the original one fails you - just as I suggest when fixing a bird box with use of a wire rope or cable tie.

To hang a bird box up in a tree is going to be a perfect solution to your needs, with little fuss.

But it can still appear to be fixed, rather than hung if you make sure the bird box is up against the tree trunk. Why that is important is because a bird box that can sway or bump in wind - can indeed deter wild bird from ever using it.

If you don't want to hang the bird box, I would still suggest you use a top point to use as a backup point.

Do NOT use screws or nails

I can't emphasis it enough, never ever use any kind of nails or screws to fix a bird box to a tree.

To do this can only harm the tree while exposing its under-layer to the elements, forcing it to rot which can result in weakening the joint used to fix your bird box.

I don't believe something such as a one inch screw or nail can really do much damage to a tree, but I will never approve of such practice; it can't really be ideal as its risks harming an aged old tree.

Its imperative then to think of ways to secure a bird box to a tree without the need of nails or screws, in which they would be an easier solution.

With that, a nail or screw is not guaranteed to stay put as the moisture retained in the tree tissue, can speed up the nail or screw rust process.

I can say to drill or hammer in nails is going to cause decay in most cases.

To summarise how to fix to a tree

With little expense on your part, you can turn any wooden bird box into one that is compatible with a large tree trunk or a dainty tree in your garden.

What is needed is two lengths of galvanised wire rope to wrap around the bird box, plus more length needed to go around the tree trunk.

Galvanised wire rope would edge itself into the bark a little creating grip, with no possibility of it slipping down.

To attach a bird box to a tree with galvanised wire rope can be awkward I grant you, but its very effective.

However, its how you connect the wire rope to the wooden bird box that is important, but that can be achieve with use of the galvanised wire rope's corresponding clamp. Clamps are needed to basically tie a knot - as wire cannot be tied up like a shoe lace.

You can drill in screws with eye bolts on opposite sides of the bird box to thread the wire rope through, but in doing so would absolutely need two tie points to guarantee a safe connection.

Instead of a eye screws in use, you can thread the galvanised wire rope through a wooden panel to trap it behind, but never make it permanent.

How else to fix a bird box to a tree can be use of plastic coated wiring - like a washing line - to wrap around and tie in a knot in a more discreet area in the tree.

Lastly, metal cable ties can be used, but never use nails or screws to fix bird boxes.

Share this article: