Under normal circumstances, nests anywhere can be recorded for Nesting Neighbours, but please only do so in your own garden until BTO guidance on travelling to survey changes. A nest box in your garden can make a very useful contribution to Nesting Neighbours but of course birds nest in other places too: the Blackbirds in the shrub, the Wrens in the ivy, the Swallows in an outbuilding. You can monitor as few or as many as you like.
Learn how and what to monitor
You can monitor a nest by inspecting up close, installing a camera or watching from a distance. If you follow the Code of Conduct you can safely approach and inspect a nest for monitoring. Scientific studies have shown that, as long as observers are careful and follow the BTO's guidance, making several visits to a nest to record the contents does not increase the probability of desertion.
Visit our pages on how to monitor nests, where you can find advice on how to go about safely monitoring both nest boxes and open nests.
If you haven't taken part in an online BTO survey before, you'll need to create your own My BTO account so that you can log in and participate. Once you have a username and password, you'll need to sign-up for for Nesting Neighbours.
Login and start recording
Once you've registered, just login to the Nesting Neighbours 'Data Home' page whenever you want to add or view data. To get started recording a new nest, just follow the instructions that appear on screen when you login.
Don't forget nest box and habitat details
As well as monitoring what happens to a nest, it's also important to tell us what habitat it is in and if the nest is in a box then some details about its construction, e.g. what it's made from. Just login to the Data Home page for details on how to do this.
- Monitor your boxes at regular intervals throughout the season and record what happens. We want to know about successful nests, nests that fail, and nest boxes that don't get used.
- Keep checking your box and looking out for nests until the end of August – most nest box species don’t fledge chicks until the beginning of June, and some species may have a second brood in the summer.
Need a nest box?
Get up to speed with our essential nest box guide, which includes plans for four common species.Download the Nest Boxes Essential Guide
What we can learn from 25 years of watching gardens
Exploring the value of a complete quarter-century of weekly garden bird observations from BTO's Garden BirdWatch covering the length and breadth of the country.