Erecting a bird nest box or birdhouse can be a great way to encourage more diversity of wildlife to your garden. Birds need a nest site that is protected from the elements, and predators, to roost and rear their young.
There are many bird box designs to choose from and care should be taken to choose one that suits a species that you want to attract, or that that is known to visit the area. As a guide: small birds such as Blue Tits need a box with a small diameter hole of approximately 25mm diameter. Great Tits, Pied Fly Catchers and Sparrows require a slightly larger holes of between 28 and 32 mm diameter and larger birds such as Woodpeckers need even large holes up to 60mm diameter. Nest boxes with open fronts, are suitable for species such as Blackbirds and Wrens, and special designs are available for Tree Creepers, which are wedge shaped in design with a side access hole. Other Special House Martins and Swallows typically nest under the eaves of houses with nest made of clay and specifically designed replica nests can be purchased to suit these species.
Once you have decided on a bird box to suit the bird species you are aiming to attract, then the next decision is where to site the nest box. For most of the smaller species such as Tits and Wrens, nest boxes can be positioned in the cover of hedges and shrubs but high enough off the ground or deep enough in cover to protect from predators. Birdhouses for large birds such as Blackbirds and Starlings should be placed 1.5 – 5m high in a tree. If you are aiming to attract Woodpecker species then the nest box can be placed even higher in the Tree.
The special nesting boxes for Swallows and House Martins need to be placed where the birds build their mud and clay nests, under the eaves on the outside buildings but can be placed inside barns and outbuildings if natural nests are in place and the birds have access .
Finally, some species like to build nest sites in colonies, close together. Therefore, for species such as Sparrows, some bird boxes can be sited near each other or special colony nest boxes can be used.
Some species such as Blue Tits are quite tame and have even been known to nest in hanging baskets and post boxes close to occupation and the nest boxes can be placed fairly close to the parts of the garden that are often used. Others, such as Woodpeckers are quite nervous and it is best to place the box high in a Tree in quiet, less frequented parts of the garden.
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