Boxes shaped like caravans, farmhouses, eggs, windmills and even
fruit are on sale as nesting sites for garden birds. But although
they might make a quirky feature in your garden, they could
actually be dangerous for young birds.
‘although they might make a quirky
feature in your garden, they could
actually be dangerous for young birds’
Many are made from materials that also look attractive, but are
completely unsuitable for nesting birds – such as ceramics which
are not good for insulation or brightly coloured materials which
do not make the box inconspicuous to predators.
Nestboxes with metal roofs retain too much heat and can literally
bake baby birds to death on sunny days. Metal and plastic
nestboxes suffer from condensation causing baby birds to get
damp and cold.
Ian Hayward, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, says: ‘There are so many
elaborate nestboxes on sale that look the part but are really
quite dangerous to nesting birds. Don’t be tempted to go for the
unusual shapes and colours – traditional, wooden nestboxes really
are the best – and often the most cost effective too. ‘Nestboxes are out in all weather so they need to be strong, robust, waterproof and have good insulation. They also need to
have the correct hole size.
‘People tend to forget that a nestbox will eventually contain tiny
helpless, vulnerable baby birds and the appearance of the box
should be the last thing on your mind.’
The RSPB is suggesting some nestbox dos and don’ts:
• Be robust – they are out in all weather and need to be
strong and fit for purpose
• Be waterproof – they need to be treated with a
• Have the correct hole-size – if too large predators will easily
get inside and rain/wind will get into the box
• Be safe – no dangerous sharp edges, protruding nails
or staples or unecessary fixtures or small gaps which may
harm or trap birds
• Have good insulation – wood or woodcrete is usually
the best material
• Have no perches
They should not:
• Be brightly coloured – the more inconspicuous the better
• Be made from flimsy material – many boxes fall apart when
any weight is put inside
• Be too shallow – young birds could leave prematurely
by falling out
• Be too deep - young birds may have problems getting
out when they are ready
• Be too smooth on the inside – slippery material will also
make it difficult for young birds to get out
• Have gaps – rain and cold air will get in and cause young
birds to get cold and damp.
The RSPB also recommends that nestboxes are positioned where
it isn’t easy for predators such as cats to access them and where
there isn’t too much sunlight.
They should be cleaned out each autumn and have fresh hay or
wood shavings added as a potential winter roost site.
To find out more about nestboxes and where to site them visit
www.rspb.org.uk. To order a variety of nestboxes tried and tested
nestboxes visit www.rspbshop.co.uk