FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Here is a list of frequently asked questions. If you cannot find the answer to your question here then please contact us with your query by clicking on the 'Ask a question' button at the end of this page.
- How high should my nest box be?
- Although not critically important, the ideal height for a small-hole type nest box is between 1m and 5m above the ground with a clear flight path. Care must be given to make sure the box isn’t easily accessible to predators.
- Can I put my nest box on the side of my house?
- Nest boxes can be fixed to the side of a house. A nest box with a 32mm entrance hole fixed on the wall of a house could well be used by House Sparrows. For Starlings try a box with a 45mm entrance hole.
- The hole sizes for Blue Tits should be 25mm, Great Tits and Tree Sparrows, 28mm, House Sparrows 32mm and Starlings 45mm. For information about other types of bird see the BTO Nestbox Guide, available from Jacobi Jayne online for £7.99 plus £2.00 p&p.
- Will I cause the birds to leave if I look inside?
- Recent scientific studies have shown that, provided care is taken when collecting data, regular visits do not reduce the likelihood of a nesting attempt being successful. Disturbance of breeding birds should be kept to a minimum. Provided you approach quietly and carefully, it is perfectly safe to look into a nest box from time to time to see how things are progressing once the birds are incubating their eggs. Most birds will sit very tight on their nest if you just peek in, though an early morning visit may find the bird off her nest in search of a quick meal before nest duties call her back. This is a good time to count the number of eggs in the nest and to record this information as part of Nest Box Challenge.
- Should I clean out the box?
- When the breeding season is over, old nests can be removed and the box cleaned out. Bird Protection Law permits the cleaning out of nests between 1 August and 31 January. Any dead eggs must be destroyed promptly and cannot be kept or sold. Some hole-nesting species, including sparrows, may have second or third broods in the same nest. The nests of these species should be left until sometime during the autumn when it is certain that they are no longer in use.
- My nest box has never been used. Should I move my box?
- While we can increase the probability of a box being used by choosing a suitable location, there are lots of factors that we don’t know about, such as the number of pairs of birds in the area, the presence of natural nest cavities nearby and the location of territory boundaries. While some boxes may be taken up immediately, others may remain vacant, often for no apparent reason. If a box is not used for several years in succession it may be worth resiting it.
- Do you have plans for a sparrow terrace, owl box etc?
- See the BTO Nestbox Guide, available from Jacobi Jayne online at £7.99 plus £2.00 p&p.
If you can't find the information you're seeking about nest boxes in the above list then contact us by clicking on the question mark to the right.