Why Birds Won't Visit Your Nest Box

You’ve put up a bird box in your garden and you’re looking forward to the day when a pair of birds decide to make it their home in which to bring up their chicks. 

Blue Tits In A Nest Box

But what happens if you don’t get any birds visiting your next box? There are a number of things that may put birds off using your nest box. Here are some of the most common problems and advice on how to fix them.

Only certain birds will use bird boxes so if you don’t have birds that make nests in cavities visiting your garden then your next box will remain empty.

Start by attracting the species of birds that will use nest boxes by putting out bird food and feeders and placing them near your nest box to encourage them to explore.

If you put up your nest box in the spring then it may be too late as birds will already have found somewhere to build their nests. Ideally put your bird boxes up during the winter months to ensure they are ready in time.

You also need to ensure that the bird boxes you put up are suitable for the birds that visit your garden. For example, robins prefer open fronted nest boxes whereas tits prefer smaller boxes with a small entry hole. You can find out more about the types of bird boxes different species prefer here.

Make sure your bird box is placed at a suitable height. Many people make the mistake of positioning their bird boxes too high up. Many birds prefer to nest nearer the ground in shrubs and bushes so find a position that is similar to places where birds would naturally build their nests.

You will need to clean your nest boxes between breeding seasons as birds will not reuse old nests and dirty nest boxes can be potentially hazardous. Read our advice on cleaning a nest box to make it more attractive and safe for birds. Remember you can only do this between the 1st August and the 31st January when breeding season is over.

Birds will always look for somewhere safe to build their nests so if your bird house is vulnerable to predators such as cats, squirrels or rodents they will not use it.

Position your bird box out of reach of predators and you could include safety features such as baffles to help protect birds using it. Choose a bird box with a small entrance hole which will also prevent larger birds entering and which may even eat eggs or hatchlings.

If you choose to paint your bird box you need to use a paint that it is suitable for birds. Toxic paint could kill birds and a brightly painted bird box may attract predators. We have some advice on how to paint a bird box.

If possible you should keep your bird boxes up all year round which will give your garden birds the chance to get used to your bird boxes and hopefully after a couple of seasons they will begin to use them for shelter in winter as well as for nesting in the spring and summer.

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