Spring is a very busy time for birds and a great time to attract them to your garden. It is fun to watch the birds build their nest, hatch, feed their young and to see young birds emerge for the first time.
Birds follow specific patterns when mating, nesting and laying eggs, understanding these patterns can help you decide when is best to put up a bird box.
Best time to hang your nest box
You can hang your bird boxes up all year. If you hang them in winter there is a better chance that a bird will use them to set up home in spring.
Set out your nest box in advance of the breeding season. Birds begin searching out nest sites in January and February so these are good months to set out your nest boxes.
What type of nest box to chose?
The type of nest box you choose depends on the type of bird you want to attract to your garden. The particular bird will depend on the location, the type and the size of the entrance of the nest box.
RSPB outline the following recommendations, for birds you wish to attract, by nest box entrance size:
- 25 mm for blue, coal and marsh tits
- 28 mm for great tits, tree sparrows and pied flycatchers
- 32 mm for house sparrows and nuthatches
- 45 mm for starlings
Small nest box with 100 mm high open front attracts robins or pied wagtails. Wrens need a 140 mm high front panel.
It is best not to add any nesting material or bedding to the bird box as birds like to secure their own bedding.
Suitable location for your nest box
I find trees to be an excellent place to hang my nest box to attract nesting birds but you can also place your nest box on a wall, fence or tree trunk.
Somewhere with some surrounding vegetation, such as trees and shrubs, is ideal. Whichever location it is important you ensure the birds have a clear access to the nest box entrance.
Ideally the box should be located at least 2 meters from the ground. This will ensure that cats and curious people cannot disturb the nest box.
Direction of your bird nest box
The opening of your nest box should be fixed facing between north and south-east to avoid direct sunshine, high winds, or heavy rain.
When hanging your bird box if you tilt the box forward slightly to allow the rain to run off the nest box.
It is important to avoid placing your nest box beside a bird table or feeder as nesting birds will only have to fend off intruders into their new home.
Care for the birds
If birds take up residence in your nest box and hatch young it’s important to resist the temptation to take a quick look, as this could result in the parents abandoning the nest.
Instead, observe the behaviour of the birds from a safe distance.
If you keep your distance the birds will behave more naturally, and you will enjoy and learn more about them.
Care of your nest box
Towards the end of spring, or early summer, watch the bird nest for signs that the young birds have all left. Tap on the nest box to make sure there are no birds inside before you open the nest box.
Once opened remove the old nesting material after thoroughly checking for eggs or young birds.
Check for any repairs required, such as splinters or loose screws or anything else that can hurt a bird and repair.
Your bird nest box is ready for new birds the following spring.
Nesting boxes provide birds with a refuge in your garden. In recent years nesting opportunities for small birds have diminished. You can help small Irish birds by providing them with a place to nest in your garden.
In a short few of weeks small birds will be busy getting ready to build their nests to lay and raise their young.
This is a good time to hang your bird nest box and enjoy the presence and beauty of birds as they visit your garden.
Foxy and Green Gifts