With more and more of our wild birds losing their habitats as we continually develop land, now is a perfect time to do your bit to help. There are an estimated 22 million gardens in the UK, and adding a nest box into your outdoor space will provide wild birds with a safe haven where they can visit regularly. Not only that but you’ll have hours of pleasure watching different visitors come and go.
It’s National Nest Box Week from 14th – 21st February and to celebrate and encourage as many people as possible to invest in a new ‘home’ for our wild birds, we’ve put together some useful hints and tips to get you started.
Making your own nest box
If you’re planning on having a go at making your own there are some important things you need to know before you get started.
Firstly, you’ll need to have a think about what types of bird you want to attract to your garden. The type of box or size of the hole you choose to add to your nest box will attract different species. Our guide below should help when deciding:
• 25mm hole will attract blue and coal tits
• 28mm hole will attract great tits and tree sparrows
• 32mm hole will attract house sparrows and nuthatches
• 45mm hole will attract starlings, blackbirds and wrens
• An open fronted box is perfect for housing robins and pied wagtails
Next, pick some wood that’s at least 15mm thick to give your birds the best protection. It doesn’t matter too much what type of wood you go for as long as it’s weatherproof. Why not have a root through the shed for something suitable?
When assembling your nest boxes, make sure you don’t use glue to hold it together; rust resistant screws are much less harmful to birds and give you the same finished result.
Whatever you do, don’t add any perches to your nest box as this will give predators easy access. If your wood is rough, you’re already giving the birds some grip to get inside. Add a few small drainage holes too so any rainwater can easily drain away.
Finally, give your nest box a lid so that you’re able to keep an eye on any activity. It’ll also make it easier to clean each year too.
Tips when buying a nest box
If you’d rather buy your own nest box, this one comes with a 28mm hole; perfect for attracting smaller birds such as blue tits and tree sparrows. Or if you prefer, it also comes with a removable front panel so you can convert into an open fronted nest box to appeal to robins and pied wagtails.
Alternatively, this one comes with a bigger 47mm hole, making it ideal if you want to invite birds such as starlings, blackbirds and wrens to your garden.
Where to site your nest box
When putting your nest box up, pick a spot that’s sheltered and away from other nest boxes and feeding tables to prevent a territory war. It’s important that it’s kept away from direct sunlight too and it should be tilted slightly to protect from strong winds and rain.
Your nest box should be raised anywhere between 2-5m off the ground to stop predators including cats from reaching in. A tree trunk is an ideal location but you can also put against a building wall if you don’t have one.
Wherever you choose to site it, make sure the birds have a clear path to get to it.
Cleaning your nest box
After fledgling season, once all the birds have flown the nest, you can remove the nest box to clean it. Do this once a year and clean with warm, soapy water to kill any pesticides.
Now you know the basics for providing a home for our wild bird population, why not get started and join the world’s largest wildlife survey at the same time? The RSPB are asking everyone to count the number and types of birds in their garden for an hour and send them the results. You can read more via their website here.