Parrot Nesting Boxes

I have been asked on a number of occasions about how to build a bird nesting box. Designs, specifications, materials… and I just don’t have an “all-in-one” answer! There are so many variables to this:

Type and size of bird?

Inside or outside the cage?

Wood, plastic, metal?

Is it for an outside aviary?

So I’ll give you some tips on how I’ve build my boxes, and some ideas on how you need to design them.


Finches can use a very small sized box, but you will have better luck using a woven type of nest. These are readily available in pet stores, and are made from bamboo, straw, hemp or other grasses. You supply the finches with a nesting material and let them finish their own nest themselves. This material can be cotton, grasses, straw or shredded newspaper.

Cockatiels are a bit fussy. They seem to want a fairly large box, but if the hole is too small they may not care to enter it. They don’t want to mess with widening the hole. I generally make a 12×12 box with a fairly large hole near the top.

Parakeets will be more then happy with any small box. I build them about 7×9. But I’ve had them nest in some extra cockatiel boxes with no problem.

Conures and Quakers need a slightly larger box, and more rectangular (shoebox shaped). Put the hole on the back side of the box so they can nest toward the front, and away from the hole. Note that Quakers will want to build their own nest, so supply them with material such as twigs, shredded newspaper and straw or grass.

Larger parrots will want to use a “boot” box. This is an “L” shaped box that they will enter through the top and crawl down to the bottom front. Since parrots are instinctively used to having nests in hollow tree branches, they will not want an oversized box. Make the hole a little small and let them adjust it to their liking. I prefer an 18x18x12 size.

Large macaws are a bit difficult to please. I’ve read about people using 36 gallon plastic garbage barrels, old wood barrels, or whatever they can find. My birds were kept in an 8 foot flight cage, and I wanted my nest box inside the cage, and be able to move it around. It had to withstand the constant bird chewing, so I decided on a 48x48x24 box mounted on wheels. This was a “boot” shaped box, and it worked great for us.


Birds will chew up their box. This is a basic breeding instinct and part of what triggers their breeding cycle. Therefore, many breeders try to avoid metal or plastic material. If you use these two materials, supply some wood for them to chew on inside the box.

Metal absorbs heat! If this is for an outside flight it will become very hot in the summer. If inside and exposed to the sunlight, it will also overheat. Keep this in mind if choosing metal.

Plastic is very easy to clean but will not hold up to chewing. Expect to replace these boxes frequently.

Wood is easy to work with and build, and fairly inexpensive. The only real disadvantage I have is cleaning it, as it’s very porous. You can’t wash it as this will result in mold growth. Therefore, once it becomes very soiled and chewed up, it’s best to just toss it out. I generally use ½ inch plywood, but with the larger parrots you will need to use at least 5/8 inch to withstand the chewing. Sometimes, placing metal trim around the door will prevent excessive chewing.


This is the tricky part. If mounting on the outside of the case, you need to keep in mind the weight of the box. Most 12×12 boxes will outweigh the cage and cause it to tip over, unless the case is fairly large to begin with.

I like to build the door on the front of the box, never on the top. It’s not as scary for the birds to have a front door open. Since the eggs will be on that side, they would tend to move back and away from the eggs. Opening the top will scare them as they don’t know where to run…and this panic would injure the chicks.

For example, on a 12×12 square box, I would take the front panel and divide it into two pieces. Take a hinge and put it into the middle so the top portion will swing down. Place a handle on the top, and a cabinet latch to hold it in place when closed.

If it must be placed inside the cage, you need to figure out how to get into the box to monitor it. Unless this is a walk in flight cage, you are going to have great difficulties doing this.


The most preferred material for inside the box is clean newspaper. Pine shavings are fine but do create a dust problem that could injure your chicks. Never use corn cob, kitty litter, or tissue paper. Cedar chips produce mold easier and can create respiratory distress in the birds.

More bad ideas I’ve heard of is dog food, oatmeal, popcorn and bird pellets. When they become wet from the droppings they are a great haven for bacteria.

[tags]parrot nesting, nesting boxes, parrots nesting, bird nesting box[/tags]

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  3. Parrot Diet – What Every Bird Owner MUST Know!
  4. Bird Toy Secrets
  5. Traveling With Your Bird


14 responses to “Parrot Nesting Boxes”

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  1. shirley randles says:

    i need you to send me a catalog on your breeding boxes, i have sun conures amazons, and cockatoos, hahn’s macaw’s. my amazons i’ve had for three years and bought them as a pair no results. how do i need to set up my aviary. i really need help. i’ve been raising birds for 6 years now . thank you shirley . my address is shirley randles 6607 hwy. 53 east burgaw. n.c. 28425.

  2. shirley randles says:

    did you get my e-mail yesterday on sending a catalog?

  3. Peter Gellatly says:


    Great help. Thanks!

    What sort of nesting box do you recommend for red-bellied parrots? I ended up with an L-shaped one — 18″x18″x10″, then a top quarter removed — but cannot remember why the heck I got it.

    Again, thanks and aloha, Peter

  4. andii kalin says:

    I need advice to what shape of nest box to provide my eclectus pair, since my female has taken over the top of my dry goods cubboard. It’s almost impossible to keep her out.

  5. Linda Oyler says:

    I am looking for accurate dimensions to build my own Green Cheeked conure nesting boxes. Any help would be wonderful

  6. Dave Schultz says:

    I have 2 african grey parrots and there in a huge HQ Macaw Double cage and I would like to build a breeder box and had an idea but after reading your letter i was on the right page i just needed a little advise on fastening it to the cage. I figured like you said 18x18x12, but is there a specific type of wood to use being there basically glued together. or is plain 5/8 plywood ok? Any advise wood be appreciated.

  7. Dave Schultz says:

    I have 2 african greys in a huge HQ Macaw Double cage and im gonna see if they will get together so im gonna build a breeder box. I had an idea of what to do and after reading your letter i see i was in the right direction. 18x18x12. But i hada couple of questions . First is plain 5/8 plywood ok? and what wood you recomend to fasten this to the cage with? Any advise wood be appreciated.

  8. Linda Franza says:

    I have been on the computer for hours looking for somebody who sells breeder boxes and I have found nothing. I have citrons and she’s a big girl and they need one badly. The pet shops around here only sell finch or cockatiel box.

    Help me please.


  9. Annie Pace' says:


    I don’t have a website only an e-mail, mailbox.

    Do you have a caralog of nestboxes that you sell? If you do sell nestboxes and have a catalog would you please send me one?

    I have a pair of yellow-sided Green Cheeked Conures & I am planning to get a nestbox for them soon.

    Thank You,

    Annie Pace’

  10. Lisa Willis says:

    I would be interested in a catalog if you have one or any info that you could provide for a nesting box for Hahn’s Macaw..Thank you

  11. Kyle says:

    Hi there. Do you sell and build nest boxes or do you just give advice on how to build them on your own? If you do sell them and have a price list or catalog I would love to receive one. I need nest boxes for a pair of blue front amazons, pair of orange wing amazons, pair of hahns, pair of illiger macaw and two pair of caiques. I cannot find ANYWHERE to buy them online. I’d rather purchase wooden ones as opposed to metal if possible. If you do not sell nest boxes do you know of a website or person or company that does that you could direct me to please? I hope to hear back from you. Thanks!

  12. andrew says:

    I need to make a nest box for my African gery email my on how to make one

  13. I love reading through your web sites. Thanks!|

  14. John McLaughlin says:

    I have an African Gray. I got a box for Louie,(might be Louise, not sure) and put some small plastic balls with holes in them. He keeps filling the holes with stuff. I think that he is feeding the balls.
    Is that what he is doing? I clean the box out once a week because I am afraid of bacteria.
    Is that the right thing to do?