Gardening Tips > ‘How to’? Help nesting birds in the garden

‘How to’? Help nesting birds in the garden

How do you attract birds to a nesting box?

To attract birds who use the nest boxes try to put out bird food and feeders near your box to encourage them to explore. However not too close otherwise you will attract unwanted attention from other birds. If they feel comfortable and food is readily available, they will continue to come back and build their nests inside. If you are lucky you may see the chicks once they are ready to start their flying lessons. Be careful not to disturb the box during the nesting period as you may frighten off the parents.

Blue tit - Cyanistes caeruleus - feeding young in birdbox

Photo by GAP Photography

Choosing the right location

A nest box can be attached to a tree, fence post, house, or garage wall. Picking the right spot will help birds to keep safe and warm. It is best to face the box between north and east to avoid direct sunlight, wind, and rain. The box should be between 2 and 4 metres off the ground. If you have space for more than one box, it’s good to use different-sized holes to attract different species. This will also avoid territorial arguments! Make sure there is a direct flight path to the entrance of the nest box. Keeping it clear of obstructions will make it easier for birds to find the nest box and allow them to gain easy access. If the nest box has not been inhabited for two years or more, try moving it to a new location. If still no luck, keep experimenting with different locations until you get success!

 How to manage your nest box

A well-designed nest box will only need one annual clean. Make sure to wait until autumn to remove the contents as it may still be occupied. Scatter on the ground away from the box to help prevent parasites from re-infesting the nest box. Use a small brush or scraper to remove debris from the corners. Boiling water can be used to kill any parasites, but remember to leave the lid off for a while so it can dry out. Do not wait until the winter to clean out nest boxes as birds may already be using them.

Make a bird nest whisk

bird nest whisk to help nesting birds

You can help birds create a nest by providing a handy bundle of materials in a whisk for them to help themselves to.

What will you need:

  • Twigs, moss & leaves
  • Pet hair, hay, or similar – collected from the garden or on a walk
  • An old balloon whisk – If you don’t have an old whisk, anything that can hold the materials will work. Perhaps a suet ball, block holder or bottle with holes cut out.
  • Pair of scissors
  • Garden string

How to build your bird nest whisk:

1. Take the whisk and stuff it full of the collected materials, the fuller the better! We pushed through a long twig at the base of the balloon to act as a perch.

step 1

2. Cut a piece of string about 50cm long.

step 2 - cutting string

3. Thread the string through the end of the handle on the whisk and tie a knot to create a loop for hanging up.

step 3 - threading string

4. Your bird nest whisk is ready! Hang it in a tree or from a feeding station and wait to see if the birds make use of it.

step 4 - hanging bird nest whisk in the garden to help nesting birds


Birds need a safe, warm, and dry place for rearing their young in the spring and summer. With habitats declining we can help garden birds by providing nest boxes for them to use. They will also use them throughout the year to keep warm, shelter from the rain, and hide from any predators. You can help and encourage birds into your garden by providing plenty of places to nest. The species you attract will depend on the location, the type of box, and the size of the entrance hole.

Choosing a nest box

A nest box should be constructed from an insulating material, such as durable cedar, oak, or beechwood – avoid those made from plastic, ceramic or corrosive materials. We stock a large range of good quality nest boxes and there is always a team member on hand to offer advice. The size of the entrance hole will attract certain species, some nest boxes come with multiple size holes so you can choose which one to use:

  • 25mm hole – coal tit, blue tit, marsh tit
  • 28mm hole – great tit, tree sparrows, and pied flycatchers
  • 32mm hole – house sparrows
  • 45mm – starlings Open fronted boxes – robin, wren, pied wagtail


Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram