Britain needs more nest boxes

03 Feb 2016 | No. 2016-05

National Nest Box Week 2016 - February 14th-21st

Many of the UK’s birds will struggle to find a suitable nesting site for the breeding season. The 19th National Nest Box Week (NNBW), starting on Valentine’s Day, encourages people to put up a nest box in their local area. The week is organised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and sponsored by Jacobi Jayne. People are also encouraged to sign up for Nest Box Challenge (NBC) to report what happens in their box.

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House Sparrow by John Harding

Potential nesting sites are disappearing due to the renovation of old buildings, the loss of woodland habitat and tidy gardens with a lack of suitable tree holes. Anyone can help provide more space by putting up a nest box.

Different types of nest boxes can provide homes for different types of bird. House Sparrows need a small-hole type nest box with a 32mm entrance hole. Robins will use open-fronted type nest boxes, preferably tucked away in a bit of cover. You can even provide nesting space for House Martins by fixing an artificial nesting cup just below the eaves.

Your nest box can provide valuable data to scientists monitoring UK bird populations. Nest Box Challenge, which is free to join, involves regularly looking in your box and using an online form to report any eggs or chicks inside. Data on how well birds are breeding in our changing climate is vitally important and will be used to direct conservation efforts. 

Jonathan Warrin of the BTO says, "Anyone can find a space for a bird box, whether you have a garden or want to get permission to put up a box in your local park. Seeing birds raising chicks in the box is a great way for people, young and old, to connect with nature. Don’t leave birds out in the cold, get involved with National Nest Box Week." 

Hazel Evans, Nest Box Challenge Organiser at the BTO, said, “Nest boxes give us the opportunity to easily collect data on the breeding success of cavity nesting birds which can be difficult to collect from natural cavities. We need people with nest boxes to tell us what is happening in those boxes during the breeding season. So, if you have a nest box you can help.

For more information, please visit

Nest Box Dos and Don’ts

Do Don't
Buy a box made of insulating material such as
wood or woodcrete, and of a sufficient thickness (no less than 15mm).
Put your box in direct sunlight, this can cause the contents to overheat.
Choose a box which allows easy access to look at
the contents.
Use a box with a perch. These can allow access to predators such as squirrels.
Get your box up before or during NNBW so it's
ready for prospecting birds.
Place the box close to a bird feeder. Visiting birds could disturb the nesting pair.

See for more tips on putting up a nest box.

Notes for Editors

  1. NNBW is an annual event during which people are encouraged to provide nesting space for birds. NNBW was first launched in 1997 by BTO and Jacobi Jayne.
  2. NBC is an online survey, launched by the BTO in 2007, of garden and nest boxes/sites with the aim of learning more about productivity trends of bird populations in urban areas. The BTO provides instructions on how to monitor and report nests on its
  3. The BTO is the UK's leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to the BTO's surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Bangor (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. The BTO's work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation
  4. Jacobi Jayne and Co is a conservation products company. The company provides a free nest box information leaflet for participants in the NNBW.

Contact Details

Hazel Evans
(Nest Box Challenge Organiser)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: hazel.evans [at]

Paul Stancliffe
(BTO Media Manager)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Mobile: 07585 440910 (anytime)
Email: press [at]

Images are available for use alongside this News Release.
Please contact images [at] quoting reference 2016-05

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews.
Please contact us to book an interview
Office: 01842 750050

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