Putting up nest boxes for birds

Whether you’re a family with space for a box in your garden, a teacher, a member of a local wildlife group, or you belong to a bird club and could organise a work party, putting up nest boxes gives you the chance to contribute to the conservation effort in the UK whilst giving you the pleasure of observing any breeding birds that you attract to your garden or green space. Learn about building, buying and siting boxes, and which box suites what species.
Blue Tit. Lightpoet@adobestock
Blue Tit by Lightpoet@adobestock
Young chicks in nest. Mike Mainwairing
Young chicks by Mike Mainwairing 

Why put up a nest box?

Natural nest sites for birds such as holes in trees or old buildings are disappearing fast as gardens are ‘tidied’ and old houses are repaired. Providing nesting sites for breeding birds in your garden gives you the fascinating experience of watching a key part of the lifecycle of birds happening close at hand. Choose from the options below to find the right nest box for the right place, or read our short Essential Guide.

Nest Boxes: Your essential guide

Tell us about your nest box!

If you have a nest box, you can tell us about the birds breeding inside it. This information helps us paint a picture of how well our birds are faring during the breeding season — vital knowledge which can help us track population size changes as well as inform conservation.

Find out more

Which birds use nest boxes?

The list below includes some of the species most likely to take up residence in a nest box within Great Britain. More detailed plans for boxes for several common species are included on our Building a nest box page

Small nest box with hole

Blue Tit

Coal Tit, Philip Croft

Coal Tit

Great Tit, Liz Cutting

Great Tit

House Sparrow, John Harding

House Sparrow

Marsh Tit, Liz Cutting

Marsh Tit

Nuthatch, Sarah Kelman


Pied Flycatcher, John Harding

Pied Flycatcher

Redstart, Edmund Fellowes


Tree Sparrow, Adam Jones

Tree Sparrow

Willow Tit, Graham Catley

Willow Tit

Open-fronted nest box

Pied/White Wagtail, Chris Knights

Pied/White Wagtail

Robin, Allan Drewitt


Spotted Flycatcher

Medium nest box with oval-shaped hole


Large nest box with hole

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Little Owl, Edmund Fellowes

Little Owl

Starling, Allan Drewitt


Very big nest box

Barn Owl, Neil Calbrade

Barn Owl

Jackdaw, John Proudlock


Kestrel, John Harding


Stock Dove, Sarah Kelman

Stock Dove

Tawny Owl, Liz Cutting

Tawny Owl

Nest Boxes: Your Complete Guide

If you want to know more, try our in-depth book. Written by Dave Cromack and drawing on the BTO’s expertise, this new book provides the perfect guide to building, erecting and monitoring nest boxes for a broad range of bird species.

Find out more and buy today

Buying a nest box or bird house

For various reasons, we appreciate not everyone may be interested or able to build their own nest box or bird house.

  • If that’s the case for you, we highly recommend our partner, Vine House Farm, for high-quality nest boxes, bird houses, foods, feeders and more.

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