National Nest Box Week: How to Set Up a Nest Box

National Nest Box Week has been an annual event for over 20 years now, encouraging Brits everywhere to put out their nest boxes ready for the next season of breeding birds. Putting up nest boxes is not only a fun activity to get you more in touch with wildlife, but it can help to boost the population of wild birds that are very much in need of a home.

To find out about how to set up a nest box in your garden, we asked our Content Copywriter and resident birdwatcher Olivia Holder for her tips and advice to encourage some little nesters into your garden.

Q: What kind of nest box should I choose?

“It’s best to get a simple wooden nest box made with good quality wood. Although they look pretty, avoid overly decorative nest boxes with too many adornments as these can make it easier for predators to spot, grab onto and make their way into the box. I love all of the nest boxes from our Friends of Joules, as they’re all crafted from natural materials and look lovely amongst the trees in the garden.”

Q: Where should I put it?

“Find a spot that’s in the shade for most of the day, and where birds can easily fly to it, like on the wall of a shed or on the trunk of a tree. As a general rule, you should fix your nest box between two and four metres above the ground, but check to see if your box is for a specific species of bird as they may need to be placed slightly differently.”

Q: How do I encourage birds to use it?

“You can’t always guarantee that birds will choose to use your nest box, but the more birds you encourage to your garden, the more likely it is you’ll get a lodger. Put out bird feeders filled with seeds, peanuts and suet blocks or balls for them to eat, and make sure your bird bath is regularly topped up with clean water. Try not to peer into the boxes once you’ve put them up, as you may deter potential nesters.”

Q: How do I maintain my nest box?

“It’s quite easy really. In September (no earlier as you could disturb nesting birds, which is actually illegal in the UK!), you should take down your nest box for a good clean to get it ready for the next nesting season and get rid of any nasty bacteria and parasites that could be passed on to new hatchlings. Use nothing more than boiling water to clean it (steer clear of any cleaners, disinfectants or insecticides), and leave it outside to dry.”

Q: What types of birds can I expect to see?

“The most common birds you’ll find using your nest box will be blue tits and great tits. You can tell these two apart easily by their size — the blue tit is a small bird with a yellow belly and a blue head, whereas a great tit is quite a bit bigger and has a yellow belly with a black head and white cheeks. You might also spot coal tits, sparrows, wrens, robins and nuthatches.”

Feeling inspired to set up your own nest box? You’ll find lots of different wildlife homes not just for birds but for bugs, hedgehogs and frogs too over at Friends of Joules, our online marketplace for a contemporary lifestyle.

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