When you are attracting birds to your garden there are two key things to think about - food and accommodation. It is often the case that gardens provide plenty of feeding opportunities, but nowhere suitable to nest. This is especially true as habitats become fragmented and natural nesting features disappear.
Installing nest boxes in new developments, renovated properties, parkland, gardens, and in and around agricultural buildings can be positive. They contribute significantly to conservation. There are a lot of bird boxes out there that suit a range of species, from ducks, kestrels, woodpeckers, to common garden birds. Nest boxes have advanced enormously in recent years, and at Wildcare we pride ourselves on being able to provide top-quality boxes for anything from Blue Tits to Tawny Owls.
There is always a space for a nest box, even in the smallest of gardens, and indeed, with the built-in boxes, you can accommodate birds even if you don't have a garden. The key thing to remember is that they should be sited so that they face between north and east, to avoid strong sunlight and the prevailing winds.
Though the best time to put up boxes is in late winter and early spring, giving the birds plenty of time to get used to them before nesting begins, there’s no wrong time. Some species, such as House Martins and Spotted Flycatchers, will adopt a box within minutes of it being put up. Don’t forget, too, that many species use boxes for winter roosting: Wrens roosting in House Martin boxes are quite usual.
Different nest boxes are available:
- Open fronted boxes: Robins like open-fronted boxes and are most likely to use them if they are tucked away in ivy against a fence or wall, with the entrance turned to one side. If you are lucky enough to have Spotted Flycatchers visiting your garden, an open-fronted box on the house (ideally among honeysuckle or climbing roses) is likely to be adopted. Other species that take a liking to this type of box include wagtails, thrushes, and blackbirds. Wrens will also take to this nest box, however, they like to be situated quite low, so it is worth bearing in mind the risks.
- Various entrance sizes: If you have been looking through the range you would have noticed different entrance hole sizes ranging from 26 mm to 45 mm. These suit different species and exclude others (table below). Blue Tits, Great Tits, and House Sparrows like nest boxes with a 32mm entrance hole. To cater specifically for Blue Tits choose a 26mm hole. Tree Sparrows will adopt boxes hung in trees (32mm hole) and if you live in western Britain you might be able to attract Redstarts or Pied Flycatchers. Much of these species also take to nest boxes with oval entrances.
- Swallows and House Martins: these species are catered for with specialist boxes that closely resemble their own mud nests, while Swifts have a variety of boxes specially designed for them.
- Owls: Wildcare has a good offering of boxes that suit tawny, little, and barn owls. They are often sited on the edge of woodland with access to rough grass or catching prey, or in trees and in agricultural buildings. The needs of each species are specified in the key information tabs.
- Built-in boxes: These are a great way to use your building as a home for bird species. They are often inconspicuous and look aesthetically pleasing. They suit Swifts, Tits, Flycatchers, Sparrows, Wagtails, and others. They can be placed in walls, bridges, churches, road structures and are often a standard brick size. The full details are on each product page regards siting and species.
- Not all species use boxes: Thrushes and Blackbirds invariably make their own nests, as do Collared Doves and Woodpigeons, Goldcrests, and Long-Tailed Tits.
- Bats: Some bird boxes can be occupied by bats so don't be alarmed if they take up residence.
There is a range of materials that are used for making bird boxes. Our boxes are made from FSC certified timber, magnesium oxide board (that can be crushed and used as fertiliser, and Woodcrete/Woodstone (a wood-concrete mix that goes hand in hand with being robust, promoting a consistent internal temperature, and having excellent insulation properties).
We hope that you have found this quick guide useful and welcome any questions that you may have. Happy bird watching!