Birds with special requirements

Swift Apus apus

Swifts are generally found nesting in holes and cavities in the roofs of older buildings in large villages, towns and cities. Their numbers have declined in the past decade due lack of nesting sites as older buildings are either renovated or knocked down. Fortunately nestboxes can help redress the balance. 

  • Medium nestbox with oval-shaped hole

  • Nest height as high as possible on buildings with a clear drop below entrance

  • Nest is a cup of plant material cemented with saliva

  • Egg laying starts between mid-May to early July

  • 2 to 3 eggs, dull white

  • Incubation time 19-25 days

  • Nestlings fledge between 37-56 days, depending on weather

Barn Owl Tyto alba

A lack of suitable nest sites has contributed to a drop in nesting opportunities for Barn Owls – so any nestboxes you can provide will be a great contribution to conservation. Barn Owls are a Schedule 1 species, and it is illegal to look in nestboxes without a special licence.

  • Very big nestbox with a special entrance

  • Nest height at least 4m above ground

  • No nest is made

  • Egg laying starts between early March and mid-September. 1 or 2 broods

  • 4 to 6 eggs

  • Incubation time 32 days

  • Nestlings fledge after 53-61 days

The quirky and the interesting... 

21 Facts about Barn Owls >

Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

Kestrels pick varied nest sites, including cliff ledges, broken tree snags and abandoned crow’s nests. Kestrels nest in urban areas, as well as the open countryside. In towns, boxes can be attached to the sides of buildings.

  • Very large open-fronted box with perching pole

  • Nest height at least 5m above ground with clear flight path to entrance

  • Egg laying starts between early April and early July. 1 brood

  • 4-5 eggs, white with lots of reddish-brown speckling

  • Incubation time 28-29 days

  • Nestlings fledge after 32-37 days

The quirky and the interesting... 

21 Facts about Kestrels >

House Martin Delichon urbicum

A long-distance migrant wintering in Africa, House Martins arrive back with us for the summer, nesting in mud-made nests built under the eaves of houses. Their numbers have declined dramatically in recent years so putting up an artificial mud nestbox will help the population recover.

  • A special design nest with entrance hole

  • Nests under the eaves of houses

  • Mud nest lined with feathers

  • Egg laying starts in May. 2 broods, sometimes 3

  • 4-5 eggs, white, sometimes speckled

  • Incubation time 14-16 days

  • Nestlings fledge after 19-25 days

The quirky and the interesting... 

21 Facts about House Martins >

Swallow Hirundo rustica

A long-distance migrant wintering in Africa. Unlike Swifts and House Martins, which prefer to nest in and around villages and towns, Swallows prefer open country, nesting in barns, derelict buildings and sheds. 

  • Open cup nest

  • Nest height 3m above ground

  • Nest made from mud with feather-lined cup

  • Egg laying starts in May. 2-3 broods

  • 4-5 eggs, white

  • Incubation time 14-16 days

  • Nestlings fledge after 19-25 days

The quirky and the interesting... 

21 Facts about Swallows >


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See also...

Nestbox Week 2019 Logo

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.

Click on each box to learn a little more.