Bird nest boxes

Escrito em 14 de fevereiro de 2022

Bird nest boxes

While many species are able to build or hide their nests in foliage on the trees or bushes or in grassy meadows, many others require holes for nesting. Some of these cavity-nesting species like the woodpeckers can dig their own holes. However, most of the species that require a hole to place their nest, depend on natural abandoned holes formed, for example, from fallen branches or dead trees. 

Although most birds prefer natural cavities for nesting, setting up a birdhouse in your yard with the correct design can be an important support for many breeding bird species. Especially, because nowadays is becoming harder and harder to find old decaying trees for these birds to raise their young. Removal of dead or damaged trees, plantation of exotic (and sometimes invasive) trees instead of native in public areas, monoculture and deforestation are such a few reasons. 


Basic Features of a well-constructed bird box:

  • Constructed of natural wood, preferential untreated;
  • Thick lumber for walls to provide isolation;
  • An entrance hole of the appropriate size of the target species, which is critical as it will keep larger birds to get inside;
  • A correct distance from the hole to the floor to accommodate the nest and give space for the bird family;
  • A sloped extended roof to keep the rain out;
  • Small holes for drainage and ventilation;
  • A side or top panel that opens to allow easy access, for cleaning and maintenance;
  • No outside perches, which aid predators.


When constructing or purchasing a nest box, it is very important to adjust the features of the box to the target species you want to attract/help. It is vital that attributes like entrance hole size, the size, length and depth of the box, the surrounding habitat, and the height at which the box is posted. So, before making such a step, do some research about the requirements as well as general information about your target species. You will find several good websites for that matter, such as The Cornell Lab, RSBP, Birdlife.



Where, How and When to place a birdhouse?

If you’ve decided to place some birdhouses in your surroundings, there are a few things you should consider regarding the location, time and way you should place the box(es). Here are the things we believe are important to know:

  • Asure you are placing bird boxes accordingly to the habitat of the target species;
  • Set the boxes before the breeding season, which will vary according to geographical location;
  • Place the birdhouse on a tree or pole, ensuring that is well attached;
  • Set it at least 2,5 / 3 metres high, which will prevent visits from terrestrial predators such as cats or wild mammals;
  • Keep a safe distance between boxes. The birds may be small but they too need some space between each other. This will depend on the species/area/food abundance/etc.);
  • Place the box as far as possible from disturbance areas. This doesn’t mean you cannot put it in urban areas or yards, but if you must, consider the quietest corner from the box;
  • Avoid areas where pesticides or herbicides are been used. They can affect directly and especially indirectly the cavity-nesting birds, as it decreases their main food source - insects;
  • Take into consideration the direction the box is facing. Assess how much it is exposed to natural elements such as sun, rain and wind. 



Monitoring and maintenance of bird boxes

Your job doesn’t end the minute you place the box in your yard. If you want an effective box, there are some more constant work to be done. But do not worry, it is something simple that you will need to do once a year. 

Ideally, the maintenance and cleaning process of a nesting box should be done during autumn, allowing enough time for the breeding season and before the birds need the box for shelter during the winter.  

Moreover, adding a nesting box to your surroundings will not only benefit native bird species but will also give you an opportunity to monitor and enjoy birds. But, keep their privacy and avoid unnecessary disturbance. 

Once the breeding season begins, you can monitor your box and enjoy the different stages of the process of bird reproduction (selection of nesting place, building nest, feeding young, first flights of young birds). And, if you detect an invasive or unwanted species discovering the box first, you can move it to another place, discouraging that species and giving a second chance to the target species. 



We hope you found this article helpful and perhaps inspiring to get you started building your own bird boxes. Reach us in case of any further questions.