Nesting BoxFall is the best time to start putting up nesting boxes. Birds can take a long time to decide where to nest in the spring and they often ‘try out’ a box over the winter before they decide whether they want to nest there or not. So for your best chance of housing an avian family in spring, give them plenty of options now.

You will need:

  • A wooden nesting box
  • A Ladder
  • Galvanised screws
  • A screwdriver
  • Wire or twine
  • Garden Hose

How to do it:

  1. First of all, take a walk around your home & garden to find the best possible place for your bird box. The best spot is a cool place facing north east and between 2 m & 4 m off of the ground.
  2. Now it’s time to choose your nesting box. Some things are important – Do not buy a box you cannot open to clean. If you do, after the first bird has nested there it will not get used again. Don’t buy a box with a perch below the hole. Larger birds will use it to perch on while the reach into the box. See the table below for details of the preferred dimensions & other specs for specific breeds.
  3. If you are affixing the box to a tree, thread enough twine to reach all the way around the tree + 10 inches, through some garden hose. Tie the hose around the tree at the height you want your nesting box. The tube will protect the tree from damage. Fix the nesting box to the hose.
  4. Birds prefer to line the boxes themselves, but you can help by loosely tying small bundles of twine, wool, pet hair or similar for them to use.
Species Floor of Cavity (in) Cavity Depth (in) Entrance above floor (in) Hole Size (in) Height Above Ground (ft) Placement
Chickadee 4×4 8-10 6-8 1 1/4 6-15 Place along wooded areas
Nuthatch 4×4 8-10 6-8 1 1/4 12-20 Place along wooded areas
Wrens 4×4 6-8 1-6 1 6-10 Any partly sunlit spot. May hang from limb or mounted
Tree Swallow 5×5 6 1-5 1 1/2 10-15 Place several boxes together on post or dead tree near water
Violet-Green Swallow 5×5 6 1-5 1 1/4 or 1-3 diamond 10-15 Same as Tree Swallow
Flicker 7×7 16-18 14-16 2 1/2 6-20 Open wooded area on dead trees above surrounding foliage. Fill with wood shavings
Downy Woodpecker 4×4 8-10 6-8 1 1/4 6-20 Same as Flicker. Fill with wood shavings.
Wood Duck 8×10 24 16 4 15 Place facing towards the water. Add 4 inches wood shavings. Provide drainage holes in bottom

Other birds like a roosting platform rather than an enclosed nest box.

Species Floor of Cavity (in) Cavity Depth (in) Entrance above Floor (in) Entrance Size (in) Height Above Ground (ft) Placement
Robin 6×8 8 n/a n/a 6-15 Place in shaded parts of trees or under eaves of house or shed
Barn Swallow 6×6 6 n/a n/a 8-12 Place some shelves together under eaves of buildings

You can mount your box in any number of sites – different species like different types of location. These pictures will give you an idea of the kind of spots that work. Good luck & remember to keep a notebook & pen near the window to record your new guests.

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