Birds that favour small entrance holes

Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus

Aside from nestboxes, Blue Tits will find all manner of places to make a home – including old walls, holes in pipes, lamp stands and post boxes.

  • Small nestbox with 25mm hole

  • Nest height 1-5m above ground with clear flight path to entrance

  • Nest made of moss and lined with soft material such as hair

  • Egg laying starts between late March and early June. 1 brood

  • 8 to 10 eggs, white with speckling

  • Incubation time 13-15 days

  • Nestlings fledge after 18 or 21 days

The quirky and the interesting... 
21 Facts about Blue Tits >

Coal Tit Periparus ater

In the wild Coal Tits seek out cavities near the ground, sometimes taking over burrows made by mice or voles. They will use nestboxes, but Coal Tits often lose out in competition with Blue Tits or Great Tits and prefer their boxes to be low down (1m or less above ground level).

  • Small nestbox with 25mm hole

  • Nest made of moss and lined with soft material such as hair

  • Egg laying starts between late March and late June. Sometimes 2 broods

  • 9 to 10 eggs, white with speckling

  • Incubation time 14-16 days

  • Nestlings fledge after 16 or 19 days

Great Tit Parus major

Great Tits are regular visitors to gardens in most parts of the country. It is the largest of our tit species and a frequent visitor to bird feeders. Since it is bigger and bulkier than smaller relatives Blue and Coal Tit, it requires a larger entrance hole of at least 28mm.

  • Small nestbox with 28mm hole

  • Nest height 1-5m above ground with clear flight path to entrance

  • Nest made of moss and lined with soft material such as hair

  • Egg laying starts between late March and early June. 1 brood

  • 8 to 10 eggs. White with speckling

  • Incubation time: 13-15 days

  • Nestlings fledge after 18 or 21 days

The quirky and the interesting... 
21 Facts about Great Tits >

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

Following a rapid decline in UK numbers over the last few decades, the once familiar House Sparrow needs our help to find suitable nesting sites. They like to nest colonially, so one box on its own is unlikely to attract a breeding pair. House Sparrows may nest in hedges and in climbing plants – but this does not mean that they are Hedge Sparrows or Tree Sparrows!

  • Small nestbox with 32mm hole

  • Nest height over 2m above ground

  • Nest is an untidy domed structure made of grasses, lined with feathers, hair and wool

  • Egg laying starts between mid-March and early August. Up to 4 broods

  • 4 to 5 eggs, white or pale blue with darker spots

  • Incubation time 13-15 days

  • Nestlings fledge after 15-17 days

The quirky and the interesting... 
21 Facts about House Sparrows >

Marsh Tit Poecile palustris

Despite its name, the Marsh Tit prefers to make its home in broadleaf woodland, parks or larger gardens. They usually nest low to the ground – often using tree stumps – and may even nest in holes at or below ground level.

  • Small nestbox 25mm with hole

  • Nest is made of moss and lined with soft material such as hair

  • Egg laying starts between early April and mid June. 1 brood

  • 7 to 9 eggs, white with speckling

  • Incubation time 14-16 days

  • Nestlings fledge after 18-21 days

Nuthatch Sitta europaea

When using nestboxes Nuthatches often plaster mud around the entrance hole, reducing its size to deter predators. If you’re lucky enough to find your box is occupied by Nuthatches, they’ll often return to re-use it in successive years.

  • Small nestbox with 32mm hole

  • Nest height over 3m above ground with clear flight path to entrance

  • Nest lined with wood chippings and leaves

  • Egg laying starts between early April and mid June. Occasionally 2 broods

  • 6 to 8 eggs. white with reddish speckling

  • Incubation time 16-17 days

  • Nestlings fledge after 24-25 days

Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca

These African migrants arrive back in Britain in April, taking up residence typically in the oak woods of Wales and western England. Locate nestboxes in open glades, where they can find plenty of insect prey.

  • Small nestbox with 28mm hole

  • Nest height 2m-4m above ground

  • Nest made of leaves, grass, bark, moss and lichen and lined with soft material such as hair, wool and feathers

  • Egg laying starts between late April and mid July. 1 brood

  • 6 to 7 eggs, pale blue

  • Incubation time 13-15 days

  • Nestlings fledge after 16-17 days

Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus

Putting up nestboxes can make all the difference for these late-arriving migrants from Africa, who can miss out in the seasonal rush for natural nesting holes.

  • Small nestbox with hole

  • Nest height: 1m to 3m above ground

  • The nest is made of dead grass, bark, moss and roots and lined with hair and feathers

  • Egg laying starts between mid April and mid July. 1 or 2 broods

  • 6 to 7 eggs. Light blue

  • Incubation time: 13-14 days

  • Nestlings fledge after 16-17 days

Tree Sparrow Poecile palustris

The Tree Sparrow is a red-listed species of conservation concern, as numbers have crashed since the 1970s. They will take readily to nestboxes: we suggest providing two or more sets of boxes so that birds can set up colonies. 

  • Small nestbox with 28mm hole

  • Nest height over 2m above ground

  • Nest is an untidy domed structure made of grasses, lined with feathers

  • Egg laying starts between early April and mid August. 2 or 3 broods

  • 5 to 6 eggs, white with brown blotches

  • Incubation time 12-13 days

  • Nestlings fledge after 15-18 days

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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See also...

National Nestbox Week is an established part of the ornithological calendar. Celebrated from February 14th each year, it puts the spotlight on breeding birds and asks everyone to put up more nestboxes in their local area. National Nestbox Week was first established in 1997 by the BTO and Britain’s leading birdcare specialist Jacobi Jayne & Co.

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Nestboxes come in many shapes to suit different birds.

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