Home tweet home: How to choose and position a bird nest box

It’s not just friends and celebs who are tweeting to keep in touch. Take a stroll in your garden or the park, and you’ll hear the birds twittering away at full volume. And all love birds need a home to raise their families, and that’s where we can lend a hand. Wildlife adviser for the RSPB, Ian Hayward, says: “Natural nesting sites are not that easy to come across…so putting up nest boxes to give nature a home in your garden is a real help.” Late winter and early spring are ideal times to put them up, but first, you’ll need a few facts about which boxes to choose and where to position them...

Which bird for what box?

Larger birds, like robins, feel more at home in boxes with wider, open entrances. We just love this cute frost-proof Ceramic Teapot Nester from Wildlife World, which will provide a snug hideaway for these birds and their broods (above).

Different birds like boxes of different shapes and sizes, and if your garden is big enough, it’s a good idea to buy a selection. Little birds, such as blue tits, sparrows and wrens, prefer boxes with small-holed entrances, such as this Natural Silver Birch Tit box from Wildlife World.

Or go for a more traditional box with a simple open front, such as this Rustic Cedar Robin Box (with a great tit peeping out) from Chapelwood (at ACHICA from 11 March 2013). It's the perfect addition to a wildlife or naturalistic garden.

Chapelwood also has boxes for much larger birds, including woodpeckers and owls. The open-fronted owl box shown here is primarily for little owls, and you can entice them in by placing some nesting material, such as sawdust, wood chips or sand, in the box to give them a head start.

Twit twhoo?

Make a statement

If you have a modern garden, get creative and dress up a plain wooden nest box with a splash of colour. High gloss paints can startle birds, so decorate yours in flat grade exterior water-based paints, such as Cuprinol Garden Shades. Green, brown, blue and red are all on trend, and you can get the look with Highland Marsh, Garden Bark, Royal Peacock or Rich Berry shades.

Create your own SpringWatch programme

You can also spy on baby chicks emerging from their eggs, without disturbing them or their parents, with this Camera-ready Nest Box from Wildlife World. The kit comes complete with a colour/infrared camera, which takes high quality, colour images during the day and black and white images at night.  Once assembled, just sit back and watch the drama unfold on your TV.

Siting your nest boxes

First, keep nest boxes of the same type well away from each other, or you may unwittingly instigate a fight between mating pairs. Also make sure your box is sheltered from prevailing wind and rain, out of strong sunlight, and in an area where predators like cats and squirrels can’t access the box.

Always site your nest boxes away from bird feeders to prevent visiting birds disturbing your nesting pairs. However, do provide food elsewhere in the garden for hungry parents and their chicks.

Nest box heights

Small-holed boxes are best positioned between 1 and 3m from the ground. You can fix them to a tree with galvanised wire tied around the trunk, hang them from branches, or secure them to the side of a shed or wall with galvanised nails or screws. Make sure the hole is not obscured, and that you can reach the box to clean it out at the end of the season.

Robins and spotted flycatchers prefer camouflaged sites, so mask your open-fronted boxes with shrubs or climbing plants. Boxes for woodpeckers and owls need to be at least 2.5metres above ground level and secured firmly to a tree or sheltered wall.

For further information on caring for garden birds, visit the RSPB and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)

To shop for nest boxes in the Chapelwood promotion, click onto ACHICA. Promotion starts Monday 11th at 6.30am.


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shop at ACHICA.

Zia Allaway, Garden Expert

View all posts by Zia Allaway, Garden Expert