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Nest box strategies

Hi all, I want to make/hang a nest box at our new house but I wonder if there is any point to it - the patio backs onto a railway, so there are regular trains, and there is a busy road intersection nearby. There are plenty of birds around but none come to my feeder. Do you think a nest box would stand any chance of occupancy? If so, what species would be inclined to nest in a place with a fair bit of noise and vibration? I've never had a nest box before but am finally living in a place with a hint of a "garden" this year.

  • Hi masha, to attract birds to feeders and/or nesting boxes they both need to be in the right location where birds feel safe. With regard to nesting boxes local birds like blue tits will already be used to the proximity of road and railway line and the subsequent noise and vibration so that is not a deterrent for resident birds already familiar with these surroundings. It is important to site the box high enough above ground level for example blue tits which should be 3 - 4 metres off ground level and sited facing between North and North Easterly direction. When you say "hang" a nest box it is better to have a nest box attached under the eaves of a house/shed or firmly attached to a robust tree trunk if you have one (use galvanised nails which would do less damage to the tree and not rust). I would add a metal hole plate cover to the nest-box entrance and would suggest a 28mm size hole even though 25mm is stated for blue tits. They will still use a 28mm entrance hole and would also allow a bird like a great tit to gain entrance.
    Feeders or nest boxes should not really be attached to fences (in case you are thinking of that) as they would be more vulnerable to predators such as cats or squirrels, etc, a nest box should have a clear flight path unless you have an open style nest-box suitable for low nesting birds like robins.
    You won't know if anything will use it until you try but positioning nest-boxes and feeders correctly is really important so as to give yourself the best chance of a bird using the box or your feeders. Also sunflower hearts are probably one of the best and most popular foods to have in feeders; again, only fill a feeder to the first perches to begin with so you don't have to throw out any stale, mouldy seed when the food is left untouched for too long. If you find more birds are then eating you can fill the feeder a little more. The feeder should be cleaned every week or two so another good reason not to overfill them as seed/feeding tube can get damp in wet weather.
    Good luck and I'm sure if I've forgotten one or two points, my other fellow forum friends will fill in with more information for you.

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    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Thanks Hazel, brilliant suggestions! I'm thinking of putting the nest box on the metal pole currently holding a satellite dish, which I think might be disconnected. There is a tree but it's covered with thick mature ivy, so it would be impossible to hang a nest box on that.
  • In reply to masha:

    masha said:
    I'm thinking of putting the nest box on the metal pole currently holding a satellite dish
    masha said:
    There is a tree but it's covered with thick mature ivy, so it would be impossible to hang a nest box on that.

    Is there any way of you removing part of the ivy on the tree trunk to add the box there (if the tree is very mature) as it would I think be more suitable than on a metal pole holding the satellite dish but with any work, please be careful if using ladders as nothing is worth a broken arm or leg  !       Ensure any nest box is fixed firmly secured in place so it can't accidentally tilt or come loose as it could result in loss of chicks if it falls to the ground or gets dislodged and parents abandon the nest box.    Never be tempted to add any nesting materials to a new box trying to assist the birds as they prefer to select their own materials to build their nests but at the end of each breeding season (end Sept/October time) clean out the nest box by using hot soapy water and thoroughly rinse and air dry before replacing it before cold winter sets in as some birds use boxes to roost in too during winter.      Once again, good luck and hope you have blue or great tits using the box in springtime.     

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • I agree with Hazy. Metal pole idea probably isn't ideal. A former neighbour tried that and wondered why young blue tits failed to fledge after a heatwave.
  • In reply to Robbo:

    Thanks. I guess I'll have to abandon the nest box idea.
  • I'd make use of the tree as suggested by Hazy, based on what's been written.