Choosing A Bird Box
There are a multitude of different types of bird boxes available to buy. Read on to find out how to choose a bird box that will be suitable and safe for the birds you want to attract to your garden.
A nest box that is made from a hardwood like cedar, oak or beech will last a lot longer than one made from a softwood like pine. The wood should be between 15 and 20 mm thick to provide somewhere sturdy for birds to live. Treat the outside of the box with a non-toxic, water-based preservative to prolong its life span or paint with a non-toxic paint.
A box made from thin wood, plywood, corrugated cardboard, plastic or solid ceramic is unlikely to be as successful. Boxes made from dense materials such as ceramic can be dangerous as they can get too hot or too cold for the chicks to survive. Choose a bird box that is made from an insulating material such as wood, coir or terracotta or a special waterproof wood and concrete compound such as WoodcretePLUS™.
There should be drainage holes at the bottom of the box and ventilation holes to ensure a fresh supply of air.
Pick a nest box that is in keeping with the style of your garden. So if you have a cottage style garden choose a traditional wooden nest box. If you have a darker, leafier garden then a gothic bird box would look good and if you have a more urban garden then there are many modern designs to choose from.
If you live near woodland or in the countryside then choose a bigger nest box to attract birds like woodpeckers and owls. This is especially important if you live near a new plantation as younger trees do not have many holes in them.
If you live in a more urban area then you should choose a smaller bird box for common garden birds like blue tits, coal tits, greenfinches and sparrows.
Read our bird box guide to determine which size box is most suitable for which bird.
The internal floor area of the bird box should be at least 130 sq cm – if the box is too small the birds will lay fewer eggs.
A perch is not necessary and may even act as somewhere for squirrels to cling to as they reach inside the box to grab the eggs or chicks.
Don’t choose a box that is incorporated into a bird table as the nesting birds will come into conflict with the feeding ones.