Where's the best place?
You might be tempted to fix a nestbox where you and your family can watch it being used by birds. But remember: your top priority is providing a safe location where the chicks can be raised with fewer risks from predators or bad weather.
As far as you can, it’s sensible to put the box in a place where maintenance and cleaning are as easy as possible. And if you intend to inspect the nest and its contents periodically, make sure you can do this with minimum disruption to the parent birds.
For many species the height of a box is not too critical – after all, in the wild they have to take natural holes where they find them. In your own garden it means you’ve got more freedom to site the box low enough to clean easily or inspect, but we don’t advise going lower than 1m above ground level. Equally, you might think about putting the box at a height where it’s out of reach of inquisitive children.
If your garden isn’t shaded by surrounding trees or buildings, it’s best to angle the entrance hole in a northerly or easterly direction as these usually face away from prevailing wind and rain.
Here are some extra pointers to help you pick the best spot for your boxes. You’ll also find more advice about siting and caring for your nestboxes in our Q&As.
Give them some space: Nestboxes of the same type shouldn’t be sited too close together, as it can encourage aggressive behaviour between neighbours.
Shelter from the weather: Angle the front of the nestbox vertically or slightly downwards to prevent rain from entering. Also make sure it’s sheltered from prevailing wind, rain and strong sunlight.
Obscure the view: Attach open-fronted boxes to a wall or fence that has shrubs and creepers growing against it.
Try trees, sheds or walls: Small-hole boxes are ideally placed 1-3m above the ground on tree trunks, but avoid sites where foliage obscures the entrance hole. If there are no trees in your garden, the next best option is placing your box on the side of a shed or wall.
Make sure cats can’t get in: Ensure the box is not easily accessible to predators like cats and squirrels.
Discourage squirrels: A metal plate around the entrance hole can deter squirrels from gaining access. These inexpensive plates are available from any good garden centre or birdcare stockist.
Nest in peace: Don’t site nestboxes close to bird feeders. High levels of activity by visiting birds could disturb nesting pairs.
Combat corrosion: Use rust-free galvanised wire or stainless steel screws to attach the box to the trunk or hang it from a branch. Check fittings regularly to make sure the box remains securely attached.
Nestboxes come in many shapes
and sizes, like this Avianex™ .