Siting Your Nest Box

Once you have your nest box you need to decide where to put it. Where you site your nest box will also depend on the type of species it is intended for.

Blue Tit Flying Out Of A Bird Box

You should try and have your nest box installed by November if you want it to be used the following year – this gives birds time to get used to it before the breeding season – although you can put them up as late as February. However, it may take several years before a new box is used so be patient.

Try and position the box in the shade of buildings or trees. If this is not possible then face the box between north and east so it avoids strong sunlight and the wettest winds.

Make sure that there is a clear flight path into the nest box and the entrance is free from clutter. Tilt the box slightly forwards so that rain will hit the roof and bounce off.

House sparrows and starlings will use nest boxes placed high up under the eaves. You can place two or three of these on the same side of the house as these birds will nest in loose colonies. Make sure they are positioned away from where any house martins usually nest.

Open-fronted boxes for robins or wrens need to be low down and hidden in vegetation. Woodpecker next boxes should be high up on a tree trunk and away from disturbance.

Autumn is the best time to put your nest box up. Many birds will look for a suitable place to roost or feed in autumn and winter.

Don’t use nails to fix your nest box to a tree which may damage it. Use a nylon bolt or tie wire around the trunk or branch. Remember that trees grow in girth as well as height so you will need to check the fixing every couple of years.

Although you want to place your nest box out of the reach of predators you still need to provide easy access for humans so that it can be observed and cleaned.

If there is plenty of natural food then two boxes close together may be occupied by the same species if they are at the edge of adjoining territories. While this often happens in the countryside, it is rare in gardens and you will normally only see one nesting pair of any one species. The exceptions to this are sparrows and house martins which nest in colonies. By putting up different boxes you can attract several different species.

Take a look at our selection of bird boxes where you will be able to find a variety designed for different species of birds. You can also buy nest boxes complete with cameras so you can enjoy a real-life nature programme direct from your garden!

Birds in your inbox

Sign up for the latest news and updates

Gifts, bird care, books & more

Most popular

More reading