Bird nestbox – a home for your friends
Since ancient times people put up nestboxes for birds led by the desire to support nature as well as for the satisfaction of the occupied nestbox. When a pair of birds chooses to move in your nestbox it will bring joy to young and old alike, and the feathered occupants will soon become part of the family.
Why should you put up nestboxes?
Even if you fill your feeder regularly, the birds will leave your garden during the breeding season if there are no suitable nesting sites at hand. If you want to ensure their company all year round you can put up appropriate nestboxes taking into consideration their natural preferences. Between them the various types of nestboxes can accommodate more than 60 species of birds – from tits and Tree Sparrows to Kestrels and Tawny Owls.
What species of birds are attracted to nestboxes?
There are different nestbox designs meant for different species of birds. However, not all species occupy nestboxes readily. The most frequent occupants include tits, Nuthatches, Treecreepers, Wrens, Redstarts, Starlings, Tree Sparrows, Wrynecks, some species of flycatchers, some owls, small falcons and some larger birds of prey. People also put up man-made nest platforms for storks; these are occupied readily.
Where and how to put up the nestboxes?
The location of the nestbox depends on the target species. Nestboxes for most of the species are put up at a height between 2 and 4 m (7 – 13 ft.) from the ground, on a tree trunk or on a wall. A lower position increases the risk of predation.
When choosing the right spot for the nestbox it is very important to consider the amount of light that will enter through the entrance. Birds do not like direct sunlight into the ‘holes’, so the entrance of the nestbox should be facing north or north-east.
Another important feature of a well-positioned nestbox is its accessibility – the birds need to have an easy, obstacle-free access to its entrance. Make sure there are no barriers blocking the space in front of the entrance.
It is best to tilt the nestbox forward so that the entrance is at a slight angle facing the ground. You can also achieve that naturally by choosing a tree trunk or branch that rises at a slight angle. Thus rain and wind are less likely to get into the ‘hole’.
When is the best time to put up your nestbox?
Nestboxes are best put up in January and February – the breeding pairs have already formed and they are now looking for potential nesting sites. If a pair chooses your nestbox avoid disturbance as much as possible until the new generation leaves the nest.
What types of nestboxes are there?
Nestboxes can have a closed front with a hole for an entrance, or an open front. Closed front nestboxes are suitable for birds which nest in tree holes. The size of the entrance determines the species of birds most likely to choose the particular nestbox. For example, a nestbox with a small entrance will not be occupied by a starling. Depending on the diameter of the entrance, the closed-front nestboxes are preferred by Tits, Nuthatches, Treecreepers, Wrens, Flycatchers, Redstarts, Starlings, Tree Sparrows and Wrynecks. It is important not to fix a perch under the entrance as this attracts predators and makes the nest more vulnerable.
How to clean the nestbox?
Cleaning the nestbox must take place in mid-autumn. Throw away the twigs, dawn and leaves from the inside of the nestbox to prepare it for the next season. Birds need nest material but if you do not clean the nestbox after each season it will become unusable after 2 – 3 seasons. Also, by removing the old nest material you keep the nestbox clean from parasites.
Even if your nestbox remains empty during the first breeding season, do not lose hope – a pair might choose it in the following years.