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5 Types of British Bird Nest Box & Guide to Setup this Nesting Season

In the warm up to National Nest Box Week (starting February the 14th) this week we have a run-down of five species of British birds which you may wish to attract to your garden or farm, when to look out for them and the best way to set them up with a happy home.

To start us off here are some general tips and things to look out for when setting up a nest box to ensure it will weather the seasons and be a safe hideaway for your feathered friends:

  • Use components that will not rust: When assembling the box use galvanised or stainless steel screws and nails and when attaching the box to a tree using wire or any type of wire mesh ensure that is likewise rust proof. For the main box always use wood, preferably a hardwood such as Oak or Beech which must be at least 15mm thick.
  • Keep the box away from bird feeders: Any area with a bird feeder will attract a lot of activity and noise from visiting birds which may disturb the nesting process of any paired birds so place the box in a nice quiet area of your garden.
  • Make sure the roof of the box is tilted downwards: This will ensure any rain will drain away and not get into the box and build up, you can also drill a couple of small holes in the base for the same reason. If your box does not have a roof like this try and set it up so that it is tilted slightly downwards to give the same effect. Also check the box is positioned away from prevailing winds and strong sunlight.
  • If the box is attached to a tree use a metal plate around the entrance hole to deter predators: Attach a metal guard around the entrance to the box to keep the occupants safe from squirrels, cats and other climbing predators, these can be purchased from garden centres and some pet shops.
  • Be careful looking inside the nesting box: It is fine to have a peek inside at the occupants of your nest box from time to time once the eggs are being incubated but approach slowly and carefully with as little noise as possible. A good time to count the number of eggs in the nest is early in the morning as you will often find the parents out in search of food. Of course the best way to keep an eye on all the nesting action without having to ruffle any feathers is to install one of our bird box cameras and enjoy the footage from the comfort of your home.


Blue Tit

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We start the countdown with the smallest bird on our list; The Blue Tit. These colourful little chaps will line the nest box with moss and other soft materials and start laying eggs from late March to around early June. Once the eggs are laid the Blue Tits will incubate their eggs for around two weeks or so and the fledglings will make their way out into the world four or five days after that.

To keep your resident Blue Tits comfortable they will need a small nest box which will need to have a hole of 25mm for access. The box should be situated 1 to 5 metres above the ground in a position with an unobstructed flight path to the entrance.


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Next up is everyone’s favourite avian mascot of the festive period; the Robin. You will start to notice these distinctively coloured fellas starting their nesting activities from mid April to around mid August. The Robins will cosy down with the eggs for around two weeks or so and you can expect to see the brand new Robins appearing a couple of weeks after that. 

The Robin will need an open fronted nest box in which it will weave grass, moss, roots and hairs into a nest. The best placement for the box is somewhere a few metres off the ground with climbing vegetation, such as a fence, tree or the side of a house where the overhanging plants can provide some shelter.


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Number three on our list is the Swift; a distinctively shaped bird which requires a distinctly shaped nesting box. The nest box must have a thin access slit in the box rather than a round hole as seen with other nest boxes. This nest box must be placed as high as possible with a clear drop below allowing the swifts to swoop away. Slightly unusually the Swift will often nest in holes and cavities in the roofs of old buildings and compile their nest from a selection of plant material which is secured together with saliva. Delightful.

The Swift will nest slightly later than other species generally starting around mid May and have a longer incubation period lasting around three to four weeks. The fledgling Swifts seem partial to a lie in and will not start to spread their wings for up to another seven or eight weeks after that. Alright for some.


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A nest box occupant in need of more space for their home is the Starling. This bird marked by it’s distinctively coloured flecks also has distinctively coloured light blue eggs, generally four or five, which it will incubate for around two weeks starting in early April with the last eggs being laid around mid June. The Starling is also a red-listed bird due to concerns over it’s conservation so the more of these guys we can get nesting the better!

The Starling will need a larger nest box (18cm x 15cm x 40cm ) which should be situated at least 2.5 metres above the ground and it can be situated near other nest boxes of Starlings as they nest colonially. The Starlings will need a larger entrance and exit hole than the other birds on our list; around 45mm or so.


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Our last bird requires a slightly more luxurious home which must be situated at least 5 metres above the ground allowing a clear flight path for it’s occupants. The Kestrel requires a very large nest box which can either be attached to a post, tree or the side of a building and you will find they will take readily to nest boxes in both rural and urban areas. Like the Robin the Kestrel will need an open front to the nest box, which ideally will have a small area separated into a smaller room inside. Quite the diva.

If you have enough room on your land for a box of the size shown above you can expect to see the majestic Kestrel’s distinctive white and brown speckled eggs appearing from early April onwards. After an incubation period of four weeks or so you can expect to see the baby Kestrels poking their beaks out around four to five weeks after that.

So there we have it; five beautiful species you can attract to your garden this spring, when you can expect to see them appearing and how to keep them happy and cosy during nesting time.

Our Green Feathers Bird Box Cameras

To make sure you don’t miss out on any of this season’s nesting action check out our range of bird box cameras and get yourself set up ready for egg time!

Main image via Wikimedia

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