One valuable way to support the birds in your garden is to put up a nest box. Sadly, natural sites for birds to nest in – like holes in trees and buildings – are disappearing. By creating a safe spot for birds to nest, you can support bird conservation at the same time as attracting bird life to your garden.
A huge variety of garden birds make use of nest boxes, from barn owls and blue tits through to robins and sparrows. The size of nest box you choose, including entrance hole, is likely to affect the birds that will use it.
Putting Up Your Nest box
Bird boxes should be put up somewhere safe, in a location where birds will be able to nest.
Some things to consider are:
The ideal spot is on a tree, approximately 3 metres above the ground. If you don’t have trees, high on a wall is a good alternative.
Your nest box should offer birds protection against the elements. Make sure the front of the nest box is angled so rain cannot get in. If it is against a wall, having shrubs around to hide it can be beneficial. Make sure predators, like cats, cannot get to it.
Nest boxes should ideally not be close to another nest box or to any bird feeders as the nesting birds can be disturbed.
Be sure to secure your nest box to your tree or wall using fittings that will not rust. Check them regularly for any signs of wear and tear
Nest boxes can be put up any time of the year, though late winter to early spring is the most likely time for nesting pairs to appear.
Caring For Your Nest Box
Clean your bird box annually after the breeding season is over, between September and January. Be aware that old nests can harvest parasites, so clean using surgical gloves and a dust mask and put the old nest into a plastic bag and dispose of it.