The location, size of nest box and size of entrance are all factors that will determine whether or not birds will be attracted to your garden and make a home in your nest box. Many believe that any type of box, in any location, will attract every species of bird, however that is not the case. A home for birds is just as important as feeding them during the winter, and where you place a nest box is vital for its success.
The species of bird that you want to attract is important in deciding which nest box will be best for your garden and where to position it, as most have different requirements, especially when it comes to looking after nestlings.
|Image credit: Really Wild Bird Food|
There are two main types of bird nest boxes which are suitable for different species of birds. The first is an open fronted nest box and the second is a small holed nest box. Both of these will require siting in slightly different ways.
This type of nest box is normally preferred by Robins, Wrens and Pied Wagtails. They are best positioned 1-2m off the ground and can be attached to a wall, fence or tree that has sufficient vegetation such as shrubs and creepers growing around it, allowing cover for visiting birds. Larger versions of these nest boxes can sometimes be used by blackbirds also.
This is the most popular type of nest box as there are many variations available to attract different species of bird. There are two main factors to consider for a small holed nest box; the size of entrance hole and the height it needs to be placed. This will determine which birds will visit the nest box and make their home inside.
For most birds the best height to place the nest box is between 2-4m, attached securely to a wall, fence or tree, to ensure they're out of reach from predators. Entrance holes with a diameter of 25mm are suitable for blue, coal and marsh tits, whilst a slightly larger entrance of 28mm will attract tree sparrows and great tits. Normally the largest entrance of 32mm will be good for bigger species such as house sparrows, nuthatches and woodpeckers.
|Image credit: Cheshire Wildlife Trust|
The recommended direction to face a nest box is between north and east, as this will provide natural protection from direct sunlight, wind and rain, creating a more suitable and safe environment for growing birds. The box can also be tilted marginally forward to allow any rain to run clear of the entrance.
Birds start looking for possible places to store food and to roost in Winter, which they usually return to in Spring for nesting. So having your home for them ready in late Autumn, or early Winter, will allow plenty of time for the birds to get settled. Although it’s never too early or too late to put one up, there will always be opportunities for it to be used later.
|Image credit: Josara Design|
As birds come in many different sizes and shapes, not all boxes are right for certain birds. Woodpeckers and owls are great examples of birds that require differently placed nest boxes for them to be attracted. The main difference is the height of the box. For these birds you will need to site the nest box between 3-5m off the ground, ideally against a tree with the larger surface facing the tree.
It is important that you have a clear flight path to the box and that you can access it easily in case the young fall out and need to be placed back in the box.