NewNNBW-LogoHere’s a question for you – We all know that birds lay eggs in some form of nest, be it a bare patch of earth, a few intertwined twigs or an elaborately woven piece of art.

Many of those birds will happily use a nest box too but do you know exactly WHICH species will use a nest box and what type of box they prefer? Not sure? Well read on to find out!

Why put up nestboxes?

Natural nesting sites for many species of birds are rapidly disappearing. As we continue to modify the landscape to suit our own needs (agriculture, housing, etc.) its all too easy to forget about how wildlife is affected, especially birds, and how our actions have a direct impact on their lives. Birds in particular have had a rough time with the destruction of many of their normal nesting habitats.



Our gardens can play a massive part in redressing this imbalance. Planting hedges in or around our gardens is a fantastic way to provide shelter, safety and breeding places for many species of birds and wildlife in general. However, there are a number of cavity nesting birds that prefer a more enclosed nest site. Each species has its own particular requirements, although birds can be remarkably versatile and opportunistic, seeking out the most unexpected nest sites if insufficient natural holes are unavailable. Putting up a nestbox or two in your garden is a great way to help create more potential nest sites for many of your garden bird visitors. The sight of young birds fledging from a nestbox never fails to lift your spirit, whether you are a casually interested home-owner or an avid bird watcher!


What makes a good nestbox?

Each species has its own particular requirements but there are a number of common nest box attributes regardless of species. These are…

  • Boxes should be durable
  • Boxes should exclude avian and mammalian predators
  • The contents of the nest should be shielded from extremes of weather
  • Box design should facilitate the inspection of nest contents without disturbing the breeding attempt
  • Boxes should be simple and cheap to construct while bearing in mind the welfare of the occupants.


What type of nest box does each species prefer?

Although this list isn’t exhaustive I’ve tried to list the most common birds you are likely to see in your garden that may use a nest box…


Type Of NestboxSpecies/Notes
Very Big Nest BoxBarn Owl – At least 4m above ground.
Jackdaw – At least 5m above ground. Higher if possible.
Kestrel – At least 5m above ground with clear flight path to entrance.
Stock Dove – At least 3m above ground
Tawny Owl – At least 2.5m above ground.
Small Nest Box With HoleBlue Tit – 1-5m above ground with clear flight path to entrance. 25mm entrance hole.
Coal Tit – 25mm entrance hole.
Great Tit – 1-5m above ground with clear flight path to entrance. 28mm entrance hole.
House Sparrow – over 2m above ground. 32mm entrance hole.Marsh Tit – 25mm entrance hole.
Nuthatch – Over 3m above ground with clear flight path to entrance. 32mm entrance hole.
Pied Flycatcher – 2-4m above ground. 28mm entrance hole.
Redstart – 1-3m above ground.
Tree Sparrow – Over 2m above ground. 28mm entrance hole.
Willow Tit – 1-5m above ground with clear flight path to entrance.
Open Fronted Nest BoxPied Wagtail – Up to 5m above ground.
Robin – 1-3m above ground in thick overhanging vegetation.
Spotted Flycatcher – 2-4m above ground with clear outlook.
Medium Nest Box With Oval-Shaped HoleSwift – As high as possible on buildings with a clear drop below entrance.
Large Nest Box With HoleGreat Spotted Woodpecker – 3-5m above ground. Nest box needs to be filled with a lump of softwood so the woodpecker can excavate it.
Little Owl – Prefer long entrance tunnel with at least one direction change.
Starling – At least 2.5m above ground. 45mm entrance hole.


Add a Nest Box Camera!

Nest boxes offer the perfect opportunity to add a camera so you can watch the whole of the nesting process. They are ideal because you know in advance exactly where the nest will be built so you can set up the camera beforehand to ensure the perfect view!

There are lots of different cameras available for use in nest boxes and you can put together your own kits for a very reasonable price. However, there can be a wide margin of trial and error to find the perfect setup so why not let me help you take the guesswork out of it! I’ll be adding the first of my ‘Recommended Camera Setups (By Species)’ guides to the website tomorrow.

In the meantime, you can find a wide selection of my recommended ready made camera kits and systems in my online shop. Every product listed has either been designed or extensively tested by me and, in my opinion, offer the best options available. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or would like me to help you design your perfect wildlife camera set up.

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