Nest Boxes

With modern approaches to landscaping and construction there are fewer nooks and crannies in which birds can nest. Nest boxes can provide vital assistance in preserving or even improving populations of certain species of birds. Based on the experience of the Kildare Branch of BirdWatch Ireland who ran a nestbox scheme in nearby Donadea Forest Park starting in 2011, we present some guidelines on nest box designs below.

Please note it is illegal to disturb nesting birds without a suitable license. Please do not ‘take a peek’ into possibly occupied nest boxes – enjoy from a distance. Nest boxes can be safely cleaned between November and February.

A sincere thank you for your interest in preserving and enhancing the wildlife of Clane.

Nest Box Design

Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Great Tits, House Sparrows and Tree Sparrows all nest in simple nest boxes that have a hole in the front.

General Guidelines

  • Use wood or plywood at least 15mm thick. “Gravel board” or Exterior / Marine plywood both very suitable
  • Have at least 125mm distance between the floor and bottom of entrance hole
  • Hinge the roof with rubber / leather / plastic to allow for cleaning and also keep rain out e.g. use rubber from bicycle inner tube, or plastic from roll of damp-proof coursing.
  • The roof should open without tools to allow for cleaning. To keep the roof shut, two screws could be inserted, one in the side of the lid and the other nearby in the side of the box. Then stiff wire could be wrapped between the two screws to tie the roof shut.
  • Drill drainage holes in the floor.
  • Drill holes in top and bottom of the back board for installation screws / nails.
  • Use no chemicals inside of box. No creosote / toxic treatments outside the box. Consider timber fence protector or equivalent to extend the life of the box.
  • Use galvanised screws if possible.

Nest Box Dimensions

The nest box itself does not need to be of precise dimensions, but must be at least 10cm square inside, and have at least 12.5 cm between the bottom of the hole and the floor of the box. The British Trust of Ornithology recommends the following design:

BTO Recommended Nest Box Design

BTO Recommended Nest Box Design

Some other nest box resources that might be of interest:

Hole Size

The hole size is important as certain species prefer certain sizes, to keep their predators out. The bottom of the hole must be at least 12.5 cm from the floor of the box. Preferred hole sizes are:

  • 25mm or larger for Blue Tit and Coal Tit
  • 28mm or larger for Great Tit and Tree Sparrow
  • 32mm for House Sparrow

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