How to Put Up a Nest Box
There’s no better way to attract birds to your garden than providing them a cosy home to nest in. But birds can be a little picky about the residence they choose. Many a nest box sits empty year after year. Brush up on exactly how to put up a nest box to maximise your chances of garden birds making it their home:
When to Put Up a Nest Box
Autumn is the best time to install your nest box. Many birds will scout out potential nesting locations throughout autumn and winter before settling in the following spring. With a nest box up and ready, birds can also use the space as shelter during bad weather.
Where to Put a Nest Box
Where you choose to put your nest box will depend upon the kinds of birds you wish to attract. House sparrows and starlings like to nest under the eaves. Robins and wrens like a nest box placed under two metres high and well hidden by foliage. Woodpecker boxes should be placed three to five metres up a tree trunk.
Wherever you put your nest box, make sure there are no obstructions to the flight path. You should also protect your nest box from weather extremes. Face it to the north or east to avoid strong sunlight and slant it down slightly so that heavy rain is less likely to make its way inside.
How To Protect Your Box from Predators
Predators are a common problem. Don’t use nest boxes with a built in perch as these can provide a handy ledge for unwanted guests. A bird feeder is another temptation that can attract predators. Put your feeder at a distance from the nesting box. This way, you can also help to prevent noisy eaters from disturbing nesting birds.
Maintaining a Nest Box
Cleaning your nest box is an annual job. Nests are the perfect habitat for fleas and other parasites, which can infest newly hatched birds next year. In the autumn, when you’re sure that the box is empty, take it down and wash it with boiling water. Only hang it back up once it’s completely dry. You may want to put a few wood shavings or a little hay into the box. This will help to entice hibernating mammals and roosting birds throughout the colder months.
An inhabited nest box will provide you with endless birdwatching opportunities. Put it up at the right time, put in the right place and see to its maintenance each year to create the perfect home for nesters.
- Nikki Boxwild