Where to site your nestbox
When deciding on where to place your bird boxes, think of the sunlight it will be exposed to; the best direction is either north or east
Birds will need a clear flight path to the entrance and if you tilt the box slightly forward, it will help stop rain driving into the nest
If the ground directly below the box is naked, consider planting a shrub underneath (where possible). Fledgelings leaving the nest may fall and this will offer them some cushioning and somewhere to hide if predators are watching. If possible, plant something thorny as this will deter the predators.
Our research has shown that bird feeders and nest boxes need to be well removed from each other to reduce predation rates. Space permitting, it is recommended that they should be 40m apart - click here to read the full report
Protecting your nest boxes from predators
Nesting birds attract a lot of attention from predators, such as cats, squirrels and magpies; who find the eggs, fledgelings and the parents a very tasty meal. Below are a few suggestions on how you can help protect your birds from these predators:
Remove the perch - most perches on nest boxes are there for decorative reasons, birds do not need them to gain access in and out. In fact, they actually provide predators access into the boxes by giving them a perch to use to raid the nest.
Use a hole restrictor - a hole restrictor is a metal plate that is fixed over the hole of the nest box. This deters predators from trying to increase the hole size to gain access.
Roof size - a longer roof will prevent predators from being able to reach inside the nest box. An extended roof will also create better protection from rain and shade from sunlight.
Repellents - songbirds do not have a strong sense of smell or taste, so another way of deterring predators is to spray hot pepper sprays or natural products with strong smells. They can be applied to the entrance holes, on the roof or nearby plants.
Entrance tube - a piece of PVC pipe attached over the entrance of the bird box is another great DIY way of deterring predators from reaching the nest, alternatively, special nest box protectors are available from various retailers to prevent squirrels and other predators from gaining access.