How safe is your nest box? Make a bird’s home a happy one
If you are planning to put up a nest box during National Nest Box Week and beyond, the British Trust for Ornithology and the RSPB are warning that, while some boxes provide a perfect breeding cavity for birds, others are far from ideal.
You may be tempted to buy eye-catching brightly coloured nest boxes and quirky types shaped like caravans, farmhouses, eggs and windmills, but the RSPB warns that attractive and elaborate bird boxes aren’t necessarily safe or effective for nesting birds.
So, what should we be going for? The BTO offers the following guidelines:
1. Make sure it’s insulated
Only choose a box made from an insulating material such as wood or a special waterproof wood/concrete compound like Woodcrete, used for the National Nest Box Week ‘official’ box.
2. Avoid metal and ceramics
Don’t choose a box made from dense materials like metal or ceramics as the interior can become too hot or too cold for chicks to survive. Nest boxes with metal roofs retain too much heat and can have fatal effects for baby birds on warm, sunny days. Metal and plastic nest boxes also suffer from condensation causing baby birds to get damp and cold.
3. Choose a type with thick walls
To provide insulation and be durable, the walls of wooden boxes should be at least 15mm thick. Wooden boxes can be safely treated on the outside with a preservative provided it is non-toxic and water-based. A box made from cedar, oak or beech will far outlive one made from softwood such as pine.
4. Check the hole size
Choose a box with a 32mm entrance hole as this is the ideal size for all small hole-nesting birds such as sparrows and tits. Choose a smaller 26mm hole only if you want to restrict the box to blue tits.
The box should not be too small inside as birds may lay fewer eggs in smaller boxes. The internal floor area should at least 130 square cm (20 square inches).
6. Avoid perches
Perches are not necessary and may even act as a foothold for squirrels or weasels as they reach into the box to grab eggs and chicks.
7. Maintain easy access
A good box should provide easy access for human observers who wish to record the contents and to clean out the disused nesting material at the end of the season.
8. Place them strategically
The ideal height for a small-hole type nest box is between 1m and 5m above the ground with a clear flight path. Care must be given to make sure the box isn’t easily accessible to predators.
Unless there are trees or buildings which shade the box during the day, face the box between north and east, thus avoiding strong sunlight and the wettest winds.
There are different kinds of nest boxes for different species of bird. Cavity nesting birds like nest boxes with entrance holes, and the size of hole will depend on the target species.
For example, blue tits prefer boxes with a small hole (25mm), Starlings on the other hand would need slightly larger holes (45mm). Other birds like open-fronted nest boxes, such as robin and spotted flycatchers.
Steer clear of brightly coloured nest boxes. The more inconspicuous they are, the better. Make sure they are not made from flimsy materials as many boxes fall apart when any weight is put inside.
Don’t let them be too shallow as young birds could leave prematurely by falling out, and don’t let them be too deep as young birds may have problems getting out when they are ready to leave.
The Press Association
Latest posts by The Press Association (see all)
- An egg a day could keep the doctor away - May 22, 2018
- In Pictures: Queen pays visit to Chelsea Flower Show - May 21, 2018
- Harry and Meghan release official wedding pictures to mark big day - May 21, 2018
- Get snap happy in the garden with help from photographer Rosie Nixon - May 21, 2018
- British Tomato Week: 9 ways to use them you might not have thought of - May 21, 2018
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!