Bird boxes can be a valuable additional for birds in any garden.
Waiting for birds to take up residence in any bird boxes you put up can take patience, but take on board the tips below and you’ll be greatly increasing your chances of some chirpy feathered tenants in your garden!
What birds might take up residence in my bird box?
You can get all sorts of boxes for different kinds of birds! The most common is a tit box, which has a small hole and a little roof. Great tit and sparrows like boxes which have slightly bigger holes, whereas robin boxes have a larger square opening. Wrens like little places where they can snuggle up together, and owls have even more specific requirements.
When should I put up my bird box?
Many species like to spend some time checking out potential homes just like we do, so getting them up early gives them more chance of being used. Put up your boxes between August and February outside of the breeding season, but the earlier the better.
Where should I position my bird box?
Make sure you get the compass out before putting up your bird boxes: face them west and the bird houses will get terribly drafty from the westerly winds, face them south and they will become mini saunas. Generally between north and east is recommended. Houses for tits, sparrows and starlings should be high enough to be safe from predators like domestic cats, and not near any fences or walls that cats like to climb along! Make sure the entrance to the box is clear, without any branches or other obstructions – the birds will want to check that the coast is clear from danger before flying home. Open fronted boxes for robins and wrens can be lower down, but well hidden within a bush or climber.
Where can I get one?
Lots of places! Some will be great but some will awful. Although some bird boxes are designed to look pretty rather than to be practical for the birds, you can buy lots of really good bird boxes, but get them from a reputable source, and make sure the wood is from a sustainable source (with the FSC logo). For an even better solution, why not make your own? You’ll be using up old wood that’s lying around, thus saving money and trees, and having fun whilst you’re at it. (See the video below or click here.)
What should I look for in a bird box?
Avoid anything too flimsy looking or with a low hole, this can enable cats to get their paws in to grab those poor little chicks. Make sure it has drainage holes, and that the top is secure so that magpies and squirrels can’t get in.
How should I look after it?
The birds will do a very good job of looking after it themselves, but come Autumn it will need to be cleaned out. Don’t use any harsh chemicals – boiling water will be sufficient but use cleaning products specifically designed for bird boxes if you really need to.
To find out more about building your own bird box, watch our video!