Encouraging Birds to Use a Nest Box: Tips and Tricks

Encouraging Birds to Use a Nest Box: Tips and Tricks

Spring – luckily – is on the horizon and although we can’t believe that it’s nesting season again, it’s one of our favourite times of the year.

How can anyone not enjoy the sight of newly fledged birds taking their first tentative steps in the world?

Firstly, though, like all young parents, or parents to be, you first need a home to raise your young and as nesting season gets underway many of us put up a nest box - or those of us that are handy at DIY may build their own.

Whichever way you choose to obtain a nest box, rest assured that you are replacing a habitat that is no longer there and so providing your local garden birds with their vital home.

It’s the early bird that catches the worm – a saying that we hear a lot of in our profession – and this does apply to the putting up of a nest box. The earlier you can put one up the better. Although the main nesting season is March through to August, some birds will be searching now. Nest boxes that are empty over autumn and winter can become a welcome shelter for bugs and insects during the coldest months. Another great reason to make that purchase.

The style of the nest box does make a difference. Holed boxes should be around 4ft off the ground to help deter predators, but open-fronted nest boxes can be up to 7ft off the ground, both will need a clear flight path in and out of the box.

Robins in particular love to nest in ivy or climbing plants as they feel safe with extra camouflage. Nest boxes can be placed on a garden wall, balcony, side of the house or on a garden fence or wall. Please take note of a few golden rules.

Firstly, ensure your box is out of the full sun for obvious reasons, the thickness of wood plays a serious role too, a thick, good quality box can make all the difference in chicks surviving a cold spring. Don’t put nest boxes up near bird feeders. Garden birds will defend their territory and so won’t take to a box when it’s near to a busy feeding area.

We also get asked if anything can be put into an empty nest box to encourage them. Our advice is to leave the box empty and let the birds make their own nest, but by all means hang out nesting material in your garden for birds to peck and pull at, as they can then mould their own nest, providing some entertainment for you too.

We do urge you to put up a nest box as it can provide essential living space for many types of birds and will help our native species rear their young.

Written by Angela



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