Over 60 species of birds are known to use nest boxes. We can encourage many of our garden birds, especially Blue Tits and Great Tits, to raise a family in our gardens by providing nest boxes.
Types of Nest Box
There are 3 popular types of nest boxes used in gardens, each type designed to attract a particular group of birds:
A box with a small circular hole cut in the front and usually placed at about 1.5 m (5 feet) or higher.
The size of the hole determines which bird is most likely to take up residence, for example:
25 mm for Blue Tits
28 mm for Great Tits
32 mm for House Sparrows
45 mm for Starlings
The open box is like the standard box except that most of the front is missing. These boxes usually attract Robins, Pied Wagtails, and Redstarts. Usually placed at about 1.5 m (5 feet) or higher.
Roosting pockets are made from natural materials, such as coconut fibre, and provide a place for birds, particularly wrens, to shelter during harsh winter weather. The pockets are best placed in a quiet, sheltered spot - away from direct sunlight and prevailing winds and rain.
Some pockets are mounted on a wooden frame with a roof, which makes them more weatherproof.
Siting a Nest Box
A standard nest box for small birds should be fixed to a tree or wall at between 2 to 5 metres (6 to 16 feet) above the ground, out of the reach of cats and people.
Unless there are trees or buildings which shade the box during the day, face the box between north and east, thus avoiding strong sunlight and the wettest winds. The box should tilt forwards slightly to ensure rain runs away from the hole.
If you are fixing the box to a tree, tie it to the tree using wire or leather strapping to avoid damaging the tree. If you must use nails, use aluminium ones or the special fixings that are now available that the reduce damage that would be caused to the tree as it grows.