bird box

159: Put up a bird box or two … or more!

Cost of taking action: £/$/€ 10-30 (or make one yourself!)

From our guest writer Henry in England

You can support bird life and broader biodiversity with this action

Despite appearances, even in our gardens and parks, the number of suitable nesting sites for birds is in decline.

Old trees and hedges might have been removed, buildings and roofs are better sealed than before, and some people even deliberately block nesting sites.

One thing we can do, if we have an outside space, is to put up a bird box. Bird boxes can come in all sorts of designs and shapes and sizes, but a simple wooden birdbox is all you need.

Attracting birds to our garden is a lovely thing to do – I love seeing the young birds in our garden when they fledge!

Where to get a bird box

You can buy them from garden centres, pet shops and DIY stores, but many charities also sell them online in or in their visitor centres, such as the Wildlife Trusts or the RSPB, which will help them to raise some money too!

(RSPB shop is at this link … (opens in a new window) … Ed)

You can also build your own, with lots of designs and instructions online. You don’t need to make it exactly to the plan, just use up any wood you might have available or can source. If you are going to decorate your bird box, remember bright colours might put birds off, or make the bird box more visible to predators, and dark coloured boxes will absorb the sun’s heat making them dangerous for young birds.

How to Build a Bird Box

There are some great instructions from the Wildlife Trusts at and also from the RSPB at

Some birds prefer a hole, such as tits and sparrows, and some birds prefer an open front, such as robins and wagtails.

Where to put your bird box

The box needs to be fixed securely so it won’t fall or be knocked down, and should be around 2.5m+ above the ground, although as long as it is out of reach of cats (and children) the height isn’t too critical. A clear flight path to the box will help too.

Try to find a location that isn’t in too much direct sunlight, or exposed to the rain.

Also, don’t put them too close to your bird table or feeders, or by well-used paths.

Tip: If you are trying to attract sparrows, you can put lots of nest boxes close together as they like to nest in big groups, but other birds might like a bit more personal space!

What else to do?

In late autumn each year, you should give your bird boxes a clean, removing the old nests and rinsing them with boiling water. Please take care though to be aware of any laws relating to the removal of deserted or dead eggs and the disturbance of nests in your country.

Specialist bird boxes

You can buy bird boxes with cameras built-in, or fit a camera to a box you build yourself, these allow you to see the bird raising their chicks without any disturbance.

Also, some birds need special designs, from swifts who need a larger box with a oval-shaped hole to barn owls who need really big nesting boxes (some people use old tea-crates!). For more information on what boxes suit which bird, see the BTO website at

Take action

If you have the garden space, please take action and install a bird box, you will be helping our struggling bird populations and they provide us great enjoyment too when watching them.

This article has been contributed by
Henry Day
Twitter: @NaturetasticWH

You can also find Henry online at his YouTube channel “Naturetastic” at

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