A blue tit using a Bonaire nest box on a tree

Nest Box Top Tips

Many of us feed our garden birds, but only a few of us go to the next step and provide nesting sites for them. But why should you put up a nest box in your garden? With many green spaces disappearing for development, more and more natural nesting sites are being lost, which is thought to be why some of our most common bird species are declining. Having a nest box isn’t just good for the birds, it can help us connect with wildlife, which has a positive impact on us.

Gardens are great places to site a nest box. If you feed your garden birds you’re already providing a reliable food source for them, so adding a nest box or two will make your garden an ideal patch to raise a family. If your garden birds come to know your garden as a safe, reliable area for food and shelter you will likely get more birds visit. And with a nest box in place what a feel-good factor it is to know that you’ll be encouraging new generations of birds to feast at your feeders.

Putting up a nest box can be fun, the anticipation of waiting to see if your nest box will be used is exciting. That feeling of joy you get when you do see a bird checking out the box for the first time is wonderful. You can then sit back and watch as they pop back and forth deciding if they will use the nest box, then onto the nest building process, and once they have young chicks the demanding food runs! It really is a pleasure to witness, we believe having a a nest box in your garden isn't just for the birds benefit, it’s a great way for us to connect with nature, which is good for us.

A great tit using an Anchorage nest box

What type of nest box you need will depend on space available and the species you have or want to attract to your garden. There are lots of different nest box designs available, including natural Birch, our sustainable WoodStone® range made from a concrete/wood fibre mix and also the more aesthetic Flamed Finish range.  The simplest choice is a box with a 32mm entrance hole. This hole size is used by all the most common garden birds including Blue Tits (who may also use a 28mm hole) Great Tits, House Sparrows or Nuthatches.

Robins, Blackbirds, Wrens and Pied Wagtails will use nest boxes with a  half-open front. This box will provide little protection against predators so it’s important that these boxes are hidden well, preferably in thorny vegetation if possible.

We even have nest boxes suitable for some of our more uncommon breeders and indeed migratory birds.

Nest boxes are not only a refuge for safe shelter and successful breeding, but also a means of encouraging a new generation of birds to feast at your feeders. Your garden will be known to the birds as a safe, reliable place to raise a family - how lovely is that!

We get many questions about where should you put a nest box. Nest boxes should be sheltered from midday sun, prevailing winds and rain, so a site facing somewhere between north through east to southeast is best, but other areas are fine if protected, for example by a mature hedge or shed. A clear flight path in and out of the box is important but if you have cats or they’re present in the neighbourhood that may be attracted by the comings and goings at a nest box, so we recommend avoid sites that a cat can access, such as along the top of a fence. There’s no need to add any nesting material to your box, as birds will build their own nests with materials they find.

Nest boxes can be sited anywhere between 1.5m and 5.5m high (5ft - 18ft respectively), so for ease they can be placed at chest height to allow for cleaning. A nest box should be cleaned between October and January, removing old nesting material. If siting next to a busy area such as a patio aim for a height of at least 2.5 metres. Birds visiting feeding areas can be seen as rivals so it makes sense to site nest boxes away from your feeders.

Our gardens are important habitats for our local wildlife, so by providing a regular supply of food, water, wildlife-friendly plants and offering nesting sites you can create a valuable haven for all your garden visitors.

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