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How to get birds to nest in my bird boxes

(40 Posts)
jeanie99 Sat 13-Apr-19 09:53:05

I have four nesting boxes around the garden.
In all the years we have had them we have had only one pr nesting. The boxes are suitable for smaller birds.
We had turtle doves nest behind a lamp.
Hubby brushes out the boxes and maintains them.
I have seeds and fat balls and water for the birds.
We have all types of birds coming into the garden and they feed and bath in the bird bath so why do they not nest.
I am at a loss.

Gonegirl Sat 13-Apr-19 10:03:05

Are they facing in the right direction? Apparently that is important. Bird feeders nowhere near the nest boxes? We have a pair this year, but this the first time for two or three years. Perhaps it's just down to luck.

J52 Sat 13-Apr-19 10:10:26

Some birds are very fussy, particularly blue tits, they will visit several boxes with nesting material before deciding which to occupy.
The boxes should not face south or south west, the afternoon sun is too hot. They also like some cover from trees.
We have had some boxes that remained empty for a couple of years, but then occupied once and every year after.

merlotgran Sat 13-Apr-19 10:11:37

The entrance to the bird box should not face direct sunlight so not south facing.
Our birds prefer north-west facing boxes. Fussy lot!

Check online for the correct diameter of the holes. Garden bird boxes are normally inhabited by blue tits. This year we have an influx of sparrows. They're obviously making a comeback which is good but they bully tits away from nesting sites even though they are too big themselves for the holes in the boxes.

Do you or your neighbours have cats?

merlotgran Sat 13-Apr-19 10:23:05

Talking of fussy blue tits....We have six bird boxes and each year they behave like they've been on Right Move or Escape to the Country, sussing them out and taking ages to make up their minds.

I have given all our boxes names which DH thinks is daft. hmm There is No. 65 because it was already stencilled on the side of the packing case he made into a box and I wouldn't let him paint over it.

The Pink House! The Mansion is the large, posh RSPB freebie, Little Tree Cottage is on our smallest tree, Archway House is in a pergola arch and the Newbuild, affordable house is just outside the lounge window. It was quickly snapped up and you can just see a little face peeping out!

jeanie99 Sat 13-Apr-19 10:23:28

Thank you for your comments.
The one box which had babies was located in the west on a pergola.
All the other boxes are attached to my fences, east, north and west. Do you think it might be that?

jeanie99 Sat 13-Apr-19 10:33:30

I am so jealous of all you people who have a nesting pr at home.
I do so love all the birds which visit our garden whatever size they are.
I have a 6"x20"x14" approx. plastic container full of water and some pebbles which the birds so love to bath in.
It's a delight to see them all enjoying it.
I would love a small pond but hubby says it's dangerous for the grandchildren and too much trouble to keep clean.

Gonegirl Sat 13-Apr-19 11:03:42

We put a little fence round our pond when the children/grandchildren were small, but it is a b****r to keep clean. Nice to have though. Got Marsh Marigolds out in it at the moment.

lemongrove Sat 13-Apr-19 14:27:52

Your nesting boxes may be situated too low, so that birds feel unsafe there.

jeanie99 Sat 13-Apr-19 19:10:47

The fence is 7 foot is that not tall enough.

merlotgran Sat 13-Apr-19 20:14:47

That should be high enough. Is it exposed or are there trees and shrubs nearby? Birds prefer a little bit of greenery/cover.

lemongrove Sat 13-Apr-19 21:04:52

We don’t put any nesting boxes up, but always have birds here making their own little nests.😃 Blackbirds love the conifer hedge ( very thick and warm) and bluetits nest in the climbing hydrangea on a wall.

Greyduster Sat 13-Apr-19 21:46:54

I’ve never had any success with nesting boxes, but we regularly had blackbirds nesting in our honeysuckle hedge, and as soon as the chicks fledged and left the nest, marauding cats would have them. It was heartbreaking. They gave up nesting in the end and we were glad, though I miss the excitement of listening for the babies when they hatched and seeing mum and dad going back and forth with food.

jeanie99 Sun 14-Apr-19 08:06:50

We have had a nest in the climbing hydrangea I only knew it was there after the leaves had fallen. Thing is it's in the front garden so we would not see any activity.
I have one of the boxes on the fence next to a large shrub from the next doors garden, I thought it was an ideal location because lots of small birds gather in the shrub.
I've just found out though my field camera as picked up on two occassions two different cats in the garden at night.
We never see any in the garden during the day so this is making me think if this is the problem.

travelsafar Sun 14-Apr-19 08:15:14

we had two families of blue tits last year, one in the box buried within thew clematis and the other in the box on the fence behind a weigelia bush. Neither of these boxes can be seen because of the leaves and flowers so they are perfect for blue tits.The only way we knew they were occupied was by spotting the parents flying in and out all day with food and the constant cheeping of the babies. Then one day nothing, no parents or cheeping and when we investigated they had gone just leaving nestings in the box. Really hoping they return this year.

crystaltipps Sun 14-Apr-19 08:21:11

One of my neighbours has a bird box with a camera in so you can view inside the nest, they did have blue tits last year, and we all watched them developing ( he shared the live stream on FB) so,far none this year. I was tempted to get one for my OH for Christmas, but think it’s a bit late now. We had robins nest in ivy near our house, but I think the cat was too interested and they aren’t back this year .

jeanie99 Sun 14-Apr-19 08:36:38

That's wonderful what an opportunity to see the developing young on video.
Unfortunately my skills are limited I have only just learned how to use the field camera I have.
Thank goodness for David Attenborough and the amazing team of photographers who do provide us with this.

Cece44 Sun 14-Apr-19 10:09:40

Anyone one have sparrows? We have a little group! But I have had a sparrows nest box up for years and nothing!! It's west facing under the roof of the house, in the wisteria. What I am doing wrong??

coast35 Sun 14-Apr-19 10:17:01

We have had a bird box with a camera on the side of our house. The first year we had blue tits and it was wonderful watching the eggs hatching and all 7 being fed by a rather harassed mum and dad. However we went away for a weekend and when we came back there were only 4 chicks which mum and dad massacred. It was horrible. Nature in the raw. Since then we have had a couple of years with sparrows who built their nest so high it covered the camera and we couldn’t see anything. This year we have blue tits again so we are hoping things will go rather better than last time. It is fascinating to watch.

Magrithea Sun 14-Apr-19 10:26:56

We have no nest boxes but several house martin nests in the eaves (used to be more) and for the last two years swallows have built and occupied a nest high up in our open porch - it must remind them of a barn! My only complaint is that their droppings make a mess right by the door we all use to go in and out through!

You can't 'make' birds next where you want them, just enjoy them coming and bathing and feeding

missdeke Sun 14-Apr-19 10:35:33

I have an old silver plated teapot that my mum gave me, I knew she wouldn't want me to get rid of it, but i don't drink tea and have very little storage, so I tied it into the honeysuckle, within days a robin had nested! But I do have a bird box, high on a fence, facing the right way with tree cover, been empty since I put it up 5 years ago. there'sno pleasing some birds!! grin

Guineagirl Sun 14-Apr-19 10:40:20


I think the best bird boxes for blue tits and indeed great tits are the silver birch ones available. They really do think they are a tree. I moved here ten years ago and every year they fledge I even recorded the babies fledging one year. I realised it’s because the box I put up behind the shed, next to a massive bush, out of the sun half of the day, near my tiny pond. They are in it on eggs at the moment. I noticed when I cleaned it last year some bug is eating it away inside so I’ll have to renew it. I also put a box guard on the front because of squirrels the metal ones you can get from C J Birds. They have the boxes on their website I think for about 9 pound, I don’t think they like the plywood boxes as much as these. Hope that helps, so imagine you were a little bird wanting access and privacy and somewhere for your babies to come out and rush to and you’ll get it right.

nanasam Sun 14-Apr-19 10:40:36

Another point to mention is that birds don't like their nest to be too close to a feeding station, it's just too busy for them.

Annaram1 Sun 14-Apr-19 10:40:38

My neighbours in another village had house martins nesting in their eaves. he hated the mess so much that they used their garden hose to wash away the nest every time it was being built. Eventually the birds gave up. It is illegal to destroy a bids nest. Our bird numbers have plummeted and some species are about 10% of what they were 30 years ago.
Unfortunately cats destroy more than 6 million birds a year.

ReadyMeals Sun 14-Apr-19 10:48:43

I think a lot of birds like the entrances to their nests concealed behind shrubbery or climbers, too