Nesting Neighbours

Nuthatch. Photograph by Edmund Fellowes

Do you think you might have birds nesting in your garden? Could you take a closer look and find out? By monitoring nests through the breeding season you could gather hugely valuable information.

It starts with watching the behaviour of birds in your garden and local area; have you seen a Robin carrying moss, a Blackbird with worms or Blue Tits investigating a nest box?

Next you need to locate the nest. Whether it's a Blue Tits in a box, Blackbird in a shrub or House Martins under the eaves, all you need to do is check the nest at regular intervals and then record what you see online. 

By following the code of conduct it is possible to enjoy a privileged and intimate insight into the lives of birds without impacting the nesting attempt.

  • The information collected through Nesting Neighbours helps BTO scientists to build up a detailed picture of bird breeding success and what may be affecting it, so participation in Nesting Neighbours is both enjoyable and very rewarding.
  • Birds' nests are often unsuccessful but it's essential we know about these ones too, so please follow the breeding attempts through the season and let us know what happens, whatever the outcome. You can also record when a nest box hasn't been used.
  • Try to keep an eye out until at least August. Nest boxes are sometimes used more than once and birds like Robin, Blackbird and Collared Dove will often have two or even three nests over the spring and summer.
  • Due to differing legislation, it is necessary to apply for a licence prior to participating in Nesting Neighbours if you are in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland
  • If you anticipate monitoring more than twenty or so nests in a season then we suggest that you register for the Nest Record Scheme and submit your data via the Demography Online interface. 

  • Nesting Neighbours was previously called Nest Box Challenge. The survey was relaunched and renamed in 2020.

Time / skill required

  • A few minutes each week to monitor the nests in your garden.
  • Able to access nests to count eggs and young, following the Code of Conduct.
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Project timeline, contributions & findings

Project timeline

  • February - Make sure Nest Boxes are in place as birds start to look for a safe place to raise their brood
  • March - Some garden birds such as Blackbirds will start nesting
  • April - June - Many garden birds including Blue and Great Tits will nest during this time
  • September - Nest boxes should be cleaned out before the end of January ready for the following Spring 

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