Considering putting up a Nest Box? Here's What You Need To Know
What kind of box should I buy?
There are many different types of nest box available to buy for use in your garden but knowing which box is the right one for you is not easy unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. The main thing to consider when picking a box is what species of bird you think is most likely to be making a nest in your garden. For example, if your garden is generally visited by blue tits, great tits and sparrows then buying an open-fronted nest box is likely to be a waste of time and money as they are generally preferred by robins, wrens and flycatchers.
Another thing to consider when purchasing a nest box is whether or not your garden has any potential nest predators as inhabitants. Squirrels and other rodents will be very interested in any unattended eggs in the nests of garden birds and tend to damage the box entrance by chewing at it to gain access to an easy meal. If you are aware of any of these nest predators living in and around your garden it would be best to invest in a Woodstone Nest Box, these Nest Boxes are made from a mixture of cement and wood fibre, this will prevent any would be nest invaders from chewing at the entrance of your box, therefore protecting the eggs and preventing damage to the box entrance at the same time. If you already have a nest box and feel that it is in need of protection, you can add a Nest box protection plate to protect the entrance.
What Entrance Size do I need?
Good Question, if you would like to attract a specific breed of bird to your nest box, then the type and size of the entrance hole is important, however if you are looking to attract a wider species then a 32mm hole will attract a wider variety, a small bird such as a blue tit will still quite happily use a box with this size entrance. There are now a variety of breed specific bird boxes available, such as Blackbird Nest Box, Robin Nest Box, Sparrow Colony Nest Boxes and multi nest boxes available to buy.
Where should I place the box?
The first thing to consider when siting your nest box is where’s best to place it. To decide this you will need to take a few things into consideration. First of all you will have to find an area with room to place your nest box. Most gardens will have enough room for placing at least one box, though in large gardens you may have room for two or three. If you do decide to place multiple nest boxes it is best to make sure that they are a good distance apart (unless you are hoping to attract House Sparrows, as they prefer to nest in groups) to prevent fights between neighbours as well as placing nest boxes well away from feeding areas to reduce the amount of traffic passing the box entrance.
Once you are sure that you have room for your nest box you will need to consider how habitable the nest box will be once it has been sited; nest boxes are not likely to get used if they are not sheltered from prevailing wind, driving rain and direct sunlight. The ideal direction is North East however you may have a south facing spot which is sheltered from direct sunlight which would be equally sufficient. When you are convinced that you have found the best location for placing your nest box you may want to consider at what height the box will be placed. Small birds such as blue tits and great tits are more likely to nest in a small holed box that has been placed between one and three metres above the ground whereas robins and wrens will nest at almost any height when presented with an open-fronted nest box amongst plenty of cover.
When is the best time to put my box up?
Whilst National Nest Box week falls Mid February, this is when we are all encouraged to put up a nest box by the BTO, in fact any time of year will be beneficial. Whilst most wild birds will be looking to nest no earlier than mid-February, nest boxes are frequently used for a warm safe place to roost, at Brinvale Farm we currently have a Blue Tit which roosts in one of our boxes each night, this means that the ideal time for siting a nest box is either at the beginning of winter so that it can act as a roost, or just after winter in early February. This gives the local birds an ample amount of time to become accustomed to the nest box meaning that it will be considered a natural source of shelter by the birds once they are looking to nest.