Nest Box Week takes place each year from 14-21 February, and after more than 19 years it is now an established part of the ornithological calendar.
In support of Nest Box Week, and our native birds, we’ve put together a handy guide to buying a bird box.
Type of Box
The best way to determine the style of box you buy is to decide what species of bird you want to attract.
1. Have a look at the birds already visiting your garden.
2. Check what type of foliage and/or cover you can offer.
3. Where will the box go? What birds will want to nest there?
4. Check the plants in your garden to see what insects they attract.
Where to Place Your Box
• Some birds prefer an open location; others prefer the entrance hidden away. House sparrows like to nest in groups so grouping a few single boxes together or buying a ‘row’ of boxes is best.
• Boxes need to be placed away from predators such as grey squirrels and larger birds. Always place the box where the nesting bird has a clear flight into the hole.
• Do not position nest boxes too close to each other. Most garden birds are very territorial and having too many in one patch may create aggressive behaviour.
• Face the box in any direction except South. If siting in woodland, the dry side of the tree trunk offers the most protection. Open nest boxes require more cover; putting them near to climbing plants where they are partly hidden is ideal. Siting your nest box near vegetation also aids young birds taking their first flight as it gives them support and cover.
The best height for your nest box is between 1.5m and 5.5m high (5ft – 18ft respectively). However, if your area has a particularly high cat population you must choose a high location.
Do not site nest boxes in the immediate vicinity of feeders or bird tables. The noise will disturb breeding pairs and the food attracts predators.
• Planting native shrubs and bushes will attract the insects birds feed on.
• Try leaving various nesting materials out around your garden. This will encourage birds to make your garden their home. Ideal materials are sheep’s wool, feathers, moss and dried grass.
• Buy a camera nest box to see what is going on.
Bird Box Care and Maintenance
• Boxes need to be cleaned each year, at the end of the breeding season. Ensure your box is empty, remove nesting material and clean the box using boiling hot water to destroy any parasites.
• Check fastenings to ensure the box is secure for the following season.