Nest boxes: a home for a friend
Since ancient times, people place nest boxes for birds led by their wish to assist nature, as well as by the satisfaction when their box is occupied. Once occupied, the nest box brings joy to adults and children alike, and the birds living in it become members of the family.
Why should I place a nest box?
Even if we provide food for the birds, in the breeding season they might leave if they don’t find suitable nesting conditions in the area. In order to keep them by you side all year round, you can place nest boxes that meet their natural requirements. There are a variety of nest boxes that provide the needed conditions for more than 60 species of birds – starting with tits and sparrows to kestrels and tawny owls.
What birds can I attract to my nest box?
The most common occupants include tits, nuthatches, tree creepers, wrens, redstarts, starlings, tree sparrows, wrynecks, some species of flycatchers… People place even man-made nesting platforms for storks and they are occupied readily too.
Where and how to place my nest box?
The placing of the nest box depends on the species it is intended for. As a general rule, nest boxes should be placed at a height of about 2 to 4 metres above the ground on a tree trunk or on a wall. A lower position exposes the nest box to predator attacks.
- Birds do not like it when the sun shines directly into the entrance to their nest, so it is recommended that the nest box is placed with its entrance facing north or northeast.
- The spot you’ve chosen for the nest box should provide a clear flight line to and from the entrance without any obstacles.
- Place the nest box tilted down so that the entrance is slightly turned towards the ground. To do that simply choose a slightly sloping tree branch or trunk that is not vertical. Thus you will prevent wind and rain from getting in through the entrance.
When should I place my nest box?
Nest boxes should be placed from the beginning of January to the end of February when the breeding pairs are already on the look-out for potential nesting sites. In case your nest box is occupied, try to disturb the pair as little as possible until the young leave the nest.
What types of nest boxes are there?
- Nest boxes with a hole entrance. Intended for hole-nesting species. The size of the entrance hole determines the species of birds that would occupy the nest box. A small-hole box wouldn’t be occupied by starlings, for example. Depending on the diameter of their entrance holes, nest boxes would attract tits, nuthatches, tree creepers, wrens, flycatchers, redstarts, starlings, tree sparrows and wrynecks.
Important note:Do not put a perch at the entrance of the nest box, as it makes it easier for predators to attack the nest.
- Open-front nest boxes. Open-front nest boxes are intended for birds that nest in open niches. They can be occupied by robins, spotted flycatchers, wagtails. Blackbirds and thrushes that build their nests on tree branches, would also take them. Bigger open-front nest boxes are placed to attract kestrels and other small falcons.
How and when can I clean the nest box?
It is recommended that you clean the nest box already in mid-autumn. Clear away the twigs and sticks, the down and dead leaves from the bottom of the box so it is ready for the next breeding season. Birds make their own nest bedding but the nest box will be unusable after 2–3 seasons if it isn’t cleared after the breeding season ends. By clearing away old bedding you will remove the parasites living in it too.
Even if the nest box is not occupied immediately after you place it, do not despair – there is a chance that a bird family will choose it for their next breeding season.