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Help and Advice - Nest Box Positioning

It is the most natural of instincts for birds to explore other territories to find a suitable nest site. Even if you have been feeding them all winter, come the spring they will want to pair up and find a place to share a nest. If your garden has all the requirements, they are very likely to stay in the territory they know.

There are a great many birds who use man made boxes to nest in, and the more boxes you provide, the higher the chances of you having birds to occupy them. This help sheet is a brief outline to help you get the best results for your bird watching pleasure.

The siting of nest-boxes is as important as selecting the correct type of box. Once you have located it in the correct place the birds will find it and hopefully make a nest.

There are no certain methods, but a few tips can help you improve chances of success..

  • Nest boxes should be put up in Early January, through to the end of February. Birds will often chose a ‘well worn’ box, and so it is best to put them up and leave them in position for the following year.

  • Find a spot, away from the day to day traffic of your home, not next to a door, or moving object.

  • Select a quiet part of the garden, bear in mind the activity of neighbours, if they are close.

  • The box should face between North and East, to maximise light, and reduce weather ingress.

  • Consider potential threats to the nestlings, avoid locating the box where cats and other predators can lay in wait.

  • Use more than one nest box for each species of bird, you will increase you chances of attracting your favoured bird, and chances are you will find them used by other birds as well.

  • Spread you nest boxes around the garden. Most birds occupy ‘territories’ and so may fight if the boxes are too close.

  • Position the box away from the feeding station. The feeding station attracts other birds in to your garden and so, requires defending by the resident birds if they are close by.

  • Do not put lots of nesting material into the box. It will more than likely put off potential occupants. You can put some wood shavings in the bottom (not straw). But the best way to help the birds is to provide material such as hair from dog grooming, cotton, wool, feathers. The most tidy way to present it to the birds is in an old wire feeder.

  • During incubation February through to July, the Squirrel may attack eggs in the nest. Providing Squirrels with their own food supply. will help keep them away from your next –boxes.

If you inspect the box once occupied, the birds may desert it, so, unless you have a camera box. Watch from a distance, and avoid direct contact with the box.

Choosing a nest-box

Enclosed Nest-Boxes

25mm (1in) - Blue Tit
28mm (1 1/4in) - Great Tit and Sparrow
32mm (1 1/2in) - Nuthatch and House Sparrow
45mm (1 3/4in) - Starling
50mm (2in) - Great Spotted Woodpecker
70mm (2 3/4in) - Little Owl
150mm (6in) - Tawny Owl and Jackdaw

Open fronted nest-boxes

25mm (1in) - Wren
28mm (1 1/4in) - Pied Wagtail and Robin
32mm (1 1/2in) - Blackbird and Spotted Fly Catcher
45mm (1 3/4in) - Pidgeon
50mm (2in) - Kestral