Episode 8 - How to Put Up a Nest Box

Episode 8 - How to Put Up a Nest Box

In episode 8 of The Wildlife Community Podcast, we ask birding expert, Dan Rouse for the low down on how high our nest boxes should be! Dan has been watching the birds in her garden since pre-school and knows all we need to know about how, where and when to put up a nest box. Listen to the podcast here...

Who is Dan Rouse?

Dan RouseDan Rouse has been birdwatching since the age of 4! As a pre-schooler she built her own nest box with her dad, which still adorns the garden fence. Then age 7 she designed her own bird bath from an upcycled tyre and some old cement. Which again still takes pride of place and is used on a daily basis by the birds visiting her garden: 

Dan Rouse nest box

“The more time we spend out here...you just notice things more as you are spending time. You don’t think about it at the time. You just get to know the birds which is nice.” Now Dan is a regular on Welsh TV and Radio Wales and has made appearances on BBC Countryfile. She is renowned for her birding knowledge, not only in our gardens but also the stunning Welsh coastline and wildfowl. 

The basics of bird care in your garden

As Dan mentions in the podcast, there are four fundamental elements to caring for garden birds: food, water, shelter and breeding. If you can provide these four
elements in some form or another in your own garden, then you are onto a winner.

  • Food. Dan has two feeding stations in her garden, one to keep the starlings busy and the other for the tits and robins to enjoy in peace! 
  • Water. Again, Dan has two. A deeper water dish for the bigger birds and a shallow raised dish for the smaller ones. Remember water isn't just for drinking, it's also necessary for birds to bath and clean themselves. 
  • Shelter. In the form of trees, bushes or hedgerows. Or you can invest in roosting pockets. If you clean out your nest box at the end of the breeding season, then it will be used by garden birds for shelter during the winter. 
  • Breeding. In the form of nest boxes or opportunities for birds to nest - such as older, bigger trees, hedges or deep bushes. 

Dan's bird bath

Why do we need a National Nestbox Week?

Dan says, "It all started when the RSPB were looking at how could we get people thinking about wildlife in garden. Think about bird feeders but there’s so much decline in species because of the lack of nesting spaces. So house sparrows for example since the 70s they have declined about 60%. And that’s just because there is nowhere for them to nest.

"So for National Nestbox Week you could put up a sparrow terrace. There’s hundreds of different nest boxes for hundreds of different species, different designs. Just pick a species and focus on what you want to do for that species rather than trying to do everything for all birds."

How to put up a nest box

Do have a listen to the podcast if you can as it's a great listen and tells you all you need to know about nest boxes. But if you would rather read, it's easier than you think to put up a nest box. All of our Wildlife World boxes come with a hanging device on the back or full instructions on how to site them.

You want to make sure that wherever you put the box, you can securely hammer or drill in a screw so that the box won’t move around and is stable and secure. You can attach a nest box to your house wall, a fence panel, a tree, or inside a shed or outbuilding that have a way for the birds to constantly get in and out.

Dan always puts hers on fence posts because the trees around her garden already have natural nesting spots which are frequently used by birds. If you’re popping it onto a fence post, then about 3-4 foot off the ground. Making sure that any cats walking along the top of your fence, can’t pop their paw down and into the box hole. For a tree then about 6 or 7 foot of the ground. Read more in our Bird Box Buyers Guide.

Dan Rouse nest box

Dan says: “The only thing to remember is to position the box so that the entrance hole faces north east so that it doesn’t get direct sunlight and the box doesn’t warm up too much. Try to ensure it’s not in a position where you will have rain and wind blowing into the nest box." Also avoid placing nest boxes close to any feeding stations or bird baths.  
cat on the prowl

Will putting up a nest box encourage cats?

Most bird species are clever enough to animals and whether or not you pop up a
nest box, they will still nest either in your garden or close by if there are natural
nesting opportunities like hedgerows, bushes and trees. “We have caught the cat when he was younger, sitting and watching the box so all we have done instead is lowered the height of the box."