London (change)
Today 13°C / 8°C
Tomorrow 14°C / 9°C

National Nest Box Week

Posted: Friday 14 February 2014
by Kate Bradbury

Today marks the beginning of National Nest Box Week – an annual reminder to provide homes for our garden birds.


For Christmas 2012 I gave members of my family bird boxes as presents. I made open-fronted boxes for robins and wrens, and closed boxes with different diameter holes to suit blue tits and great tits (25mm for blue tits and 28mm for great tits). I made 10 in total, before I realised I would have to lug them all on the train to the family party in Birmingham. Silly.

The sore arms were worth it, because my uncles, aunts, cousins and parents were delighted with their nest boxes. Each took a box to suit their own garden, and all bar one cousin have put them up. None of the boxes attracted residents in 2013, but could we be lucky this year? I hope so.

Today, on the feast of Saint Valentine, garden birds are starting to pair up and get ready for nesting season. Things are still quiet in my garden, except for the occasional visit from the robin. But in my mum’s garden last weekend I spotted a pair of blue tits flitting together between trees and shrubs. My dad tells me the great tits have been investigating his nest box for a couple of weeks now. Valentine’s Day must come early in his neck of the woods.

Today also marks the beginning of National Nest Box Week (NNBW). Organised by the BTO, the week is an annual reminder to provide homes for our amorous birds. Despite the cute connotations with loved-up couples looking for a home to raise a family, nest boxes are an essential tool in garden bird survival. Many common species are in decline, and bespoke nest boxes can provide them with nesting options they otherwise might not have. 

The decline of house sparrows, in particular, is partly attributed to a loss of breeding habitat. Boxes for them should be closed, with holes with a diameter of 30mm. House sparrows tend to nest in loose colonies, so they benefit from several boxes in close proximity, or you can buy or make a box comprising three separate ‘apartments’.

Those with larger gardens can help improve the chances of house martins and starlings. But if you only have the space to provide a home for a blue tit or robin then that’s still fantastic. Not only will you provide a nesting habitat that otherwise wouldn’t be there, but you can also take part on the BTO’s Nest Box Challenge, which involves monitoring the nesting habits of the birds in your garden, to help scientists learn more about the nesting habits of our garden birds. 

To find out more about National nest Box Week and to download a plan to make your own, visit the National Nest Box Week website. 




Discuss this blog post

Talkback: National Nest Box Week
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

oldchippy 15/02/2014 at 19:33

Hi Kate maybe you should have made your bird boxes flat pack self assembly ,I have seen some blue tits having a look at my boxes we may be lucky again this year,

sophie2002 19/02/2014 at 05:41

I think it is a great idea for the birds providing Nesting boxes. There does seem to be a lot of species in decline. I do not see a lot of Sparrows at all and where I live I used to see lots and lots of Robins and do not anymore. It is such a shame.

Lynda Fry 19/02/2014 at 09:41

I have seen blue tits having a look into nesting in my bird box. Last year we had a bees nest so I am keeping fingers crossed

Dovefromabove 19/02/2014 at 10:03

I've been watching blue tits investigating our nest boxes and those in the gardens opposite - think Spring is springing