With recent global events necessitating everyone to spend the next few weeks at home, we’ve had many requests for some bird-related ways that people can fill the time. Though life in our towns and cities is temporarily slowing down, you’ll no doubt have noticed that the seasons continue to change at pace – there’s a little bit more sunshine (in some parts of the country…), our wintering waterbirds like Whooper Swans and many wader species are starting to head back to their northerly breeding grounds, and many of your garden birds have started singing. That proliferation of birdsong can only mean one thing – nesting season is upon us!
Given the time of year, we’ve updated the nestbox section of our website (click here!). That link will hopefully answer all your questions about the different types of nestboxes and where to put them. Putting up nestboxes in your garden is a great way to give your local bird population a helping hand, as well as being a rewarding activity that you and the family can do while you’re confined to home for the next while. Most birdboxes are very simple to make from wood that you might have lying around (planks, pallets, old floorboards etc.), or you can buy some from the BirdWatch Ireland Shop (click here!). Our shop building is currently closed to the public due to Covid-19 restrictions, but we’ll continue to fulfil online orders via courier – so order your nestboxes now!
By buying from us you’re also helping support our conservation work – so a sincere thank you from everyone at BirdWatch Ireland!
Build your own nestbox
Building your own nestbox and seeing it used by nesting birds is one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do! It’s also pretty easy once you have wood (either a suitably sized plank or enough scraps of wood) and some basic handtools and fittings. See below for some measurements to make a nestbox with a sloping lid that would be suitable for most garden birds. The entrance hole should be 25mm, 28mm or 32mm depending on the birds you want to attract (more on that later), and you can also make a nestbox suitable for Starlings by making the whole thing around 30% bigger with a 45mm diameter entrance hole. If possible, make it so that you can open the lid easily at the end of the season to clean out the nestbox. Also, don’t put a perch sticking out the front – it’s not necessary!
Of course, if you want to skip the step of building one yourself, there are over 20 different types of nestboxes to choose from in the BirdWatch Ireland shop, and we’re still fulfilling any online orders – so order yours now!!
See here for the full range available at our shop and see below for an idea of the different types of nestboxes available!
Different entrance for different species
The ‘standard’ small nestbox comes in a variety of colours and designs, with different sized holes depending on the species you want to attract. If you want to attract smaller species, go for a smaller entrance hole diameter. Small species may also use a nestbox with a larger entrance hole, but it’s likely that a larger species will take it instead. Nestboxes with a 25mm hole will only be used by Blue Tits or Coal Tits, those with a 28mm can also be used by Great Tits and Tree Sparrows, and if you have a 32mm entrance hole then House Sparrows can use it too.
Species like Wren, Robin and Blackbird all prefer to nest in a more open setting, so there are a multitude of different open-fronted nestboxes to choose from for these species. You’ll want to position these nestboxes somewhere with a bit of cover e.g. amongst Ivy or Brambles. As with the more typical nestboxes above, smaller openings on these types of boxes mean only small species can use them, whereas larger openings mean a great variety of species might use them (though bigger species will take preference!).
Specialist nestboxes for your garden
There are some species with slightly different nesting habits to the average garden bird and these can be catered for with specially designed nestboxes.
House Sparrows, unlike the Tit species for example, like to nest in ‘loose’ colonies i.e. they like to nest relatively near other birds of the same species. With that in mind you can buy or build a special ‘terraced’ nestbox like the one here – essentially three nestboxes joined together, each with a 32mm hole.
Treecreeper nestboxes are specially designed to replicate a crevice behind the bark of a tree where they like to nest.
So there you have it – it’s as good a time as any to put up a nestbox (or several!) in your garden. You can build your own, or you can help support Ireland’s largest wildlife conservation charity by ordering online from our shop. If you have any further questions about choosing or putting up a nestbox, see our Nestbox FAQ section. And don’t forget, if you’re looking for for more bird-related distractions in the coming days and weeks, we’ve brought back our ‘Whoami’ quiz – so check out our Facebook and Twitter pages for a daily challenge of your bird ID skills!