Putting up nesting boxes or not?

We're new to birding (and gardening, in fact) and have discovered many new birds in our garden since setting up a proper feeding station.

We have had robins nesting in a hole in the side of our house every year for the past three years and are immensely fond of them.

This autumn/winter, we now have sparrows, blue tits, coal tits, great tits and blackbirds feeding.

We would like to put up some nesting boxes, but have read some nasty things about sparrows attacking baby robins. They are certainly quite pushy over the feeders!

Should we just leave nature to it, or is putting up nesting boxes at different points of the garden reasonable? Our garden is approximately 50m long.

If we were going to try and cater for the blackbird specifically, are there any good tactics for this? We have read that blackbirds don't always have the best luck keeping their nests safe and would like to help if we can. There seems to be one in our garden almost permanently. Unlike the sparrows, it keeps itself to itself.

Thanks in advance.

  • Hi Pollybee, not sure if sparrows attacking baby robins is correct! I have never heard or seen this and I have had lots or young Robins in the garden, and I don't see why you should not put up nest boxes in the garden if you have the room and a safe place to site it.
    I get young blackbirds here and have lots of cats visiting the garden so they do succeed in bringing up young, the only thing I am scared of is we also have grey squirrels and if they came across the nest would take the eggs i'm sure so if you dont get these just let nature take its course, and i'm sure other members will give more advice.


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  • Thanks Jim, useful to have other people's experiences and opinions. Still very new to this.

    A squirrel has appeared for the first time this week!
  • Hello Polly,   It's a good time now to put up nesting boxes which some birds will also roost in as the weather gets much colder.      Although we have just given our large garden up recently and moved,  we did have several nest boxes up catering for different species such as Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, and open style boxes suitable for robins.    I found that Blackbirds would always build their own nest in dense shrubbery or hedging but by providing plenty of extra plant cover for the blackbirds placing different shrubs along fence line this helped keep their nests safer from predators;    if you have cats in the neighbourhood then special (plastic) spiked edging can be purchased to add to the top of the fence.     With regards to nesting boxes, I found the Woodstone (concrete) boxes were the most successful;   they were used each year by Blue Tits and also Great Tit but latterly two pairs of Nuthatches raised their broods in two of the Woodstone boxes.     These boxes will also help protect birds from predators, especially if you get Great Spotted Woodpeckers who tend to drill into wooden nest boxes to access chicks.     Boxes for tit type birds should be sited around 2 - 4 metres high between North and North East so boxes don't get too hot during summer months;   open boxes for robins should be sited slightly lower down within natural foliage cover like ivy or shrubbery.     If you have wooden nest boxes already ensure you add a metal hole plate around the entrance as this also helps protect the entrance from being enlarged by predators.   We used to staple three quarter inch wire mesh  which covered down the side of the wooden box, underneath the bottom and up the other side of the box as this was additional protection from birds like woodpeckers.     I would suggest you don't go less than 28mm nest hole size.        We did not get house sparrows in our garden so cannot comment on them attacking robins although I do know they give the summer House Martin birds a hard time and can hamper their nesting attempts.   

    Hope this info helps and good luck next nesting season and hope you may get some winter roosters in your boxes.        


    Regards, Hazel 

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

  • Thanks Hazel, there's some really useful info in there! Hope to be able to put some up in the next month or so,
  • You have a reasonable amount of space for nest boxes, so I don't see why you shouldn't put them up, especially if you have cover. Sparrows and Robins tend to prefer different types of nest (box) so while Sparrows might be territorial around their own nests, I'm not sure they will hassle Robins if they are separated by a little distance. Sometimes it takes a few goes to work out where the best sites are in a garden so you may have to move them around if no-one uses them or if there are disputes caused by proximity.


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