The snow may have vanished as quickly as it appeared but the cold, dark days of winter have lingered on. This being said, do not become too accustomed to these seemingly bare days, because if you look a bit closer you might just find the tiny green buds flourishing on our trees and the overzealous shoots ready to blossom at any second. Then take a second to listen to the increasing trills of bird song and inhale a deep breath, spring is right around the corner.

National Nest Box Week is a BTO event that has run for over 15 years from 14 – 21 February and aims to encourage everyone to put up nestboxes to promote and enhance the biodiversity of our breeding birds.

As the seasons turn, the behaviour of our birds is changing and you might just witness the various courtship rituals of those garden birds you spotted during your Big Garden Birdwatch. Most British garden birds mate for the season and straight away begin the search for the perfect location to call home. House hunting is a difficult task for us all, but it can be especially tough for birds. This is largely due to more gardens becoming meticulously trimmed to perfection, old buildings being demolished and holes in fences or houses being filled in. Nests must not only be designed to hold eggs but they must offer insulation to both eggs and parents, protection from predators and shelter from the elements, so location is vital to the success of the brood. The nesting habits of each bird species have evolved over many thousands of years but with the number of potential sites decreasing, they could all use a bit of help and our gardens can offer prime nesting real estate. 

Photo by Andy Hay

One such method to help our birds is to set up nestboxes in our gardens, with different types of boxes offering homes for particular groups of birds. There have been over 60 species of birds in the UK recording using nestboxes, from the smallest of blue tits all the way up to kestrels and barn owls, depending on the site location and the choice of box. Making a nestbox can be a fun weekend activity for you and your family, or you can trust in the experts and buy a box perfectly suited for your garden birds.

Once you’ve put your nestbox out and your garden birds have claimed it, the whole family can sit back and relax, witnessing the magic of a new bird family being raised right on your doorstep.

Photo by Eleanor Bentall

Make sure you check the event listings of your local RSPB reserve for opportunities to get involved with National Nestbox Week across the Eastern Region.

The RSPB website provides advice on creating different types of nestboxes suited to particular bird groups, or offers ready-made RSPB nestboxes if you don’t fancy crafting your own. Location is vital, so make sure you choose the right place by following these guidelines:

  • Ensure your box is out of reach from cats, generally between 2-5 metres up a tree, fence or wall
  • Try to face it between north and east, as this avoids strong sunlight and the wettest winds.
  • Tilt the box slightly forward so driving rain hits the roof and does not enter the box.
  • Put different types of boxes in relevant places around the garden. For instance, put open-fronted nestboxes low down and hide them well in vegetation.

Photo by Mark Thomas

For more information on creating a home for nature, visit

  • Hi,

      I have permission to erect boxes in 15 mature trees. As this is a residential area owls and any noisy birds would not be welcome. I am not in a physical position to erect these myself. Is there an organisation that would erect and monitor the boxes? I thought it might be the B.O.T. but this is not the case. Can you sign post me to the right people?