How to choose the right wildlife nestbox and make your garden the nest big thing

How to choose the right wildlife nestbox and make your garden the nest big thing

National Nestbox Week runs every year from 14-21 February.

Due to the pandemic, we're all spending a lot more time at home and in our garden. Why not make your garden more wildlife-friendly this winter and get the simple enjoyment out of watching and helping your local wildlife?

Today on the blog, we're looking at how to turn your garden into a wildlife haven with a nestbox...

Meet the wildlife living in your garden

Not sure who you share your garden with? You might be surprised at which animals are living in your garden! Explore our interactive garden to find out how to attract wildlife and how to help them throughout the seasons.

Explore our interactive garden.

One nest doesn't fit all

Different animals can have dramatically different nesting requirements. The type and size of the box needed will vary wildly, as well as the way that you'll need to position it - both to appeal to your target species, and to keep them safe from their natural predators.

For example, amphibians (like the frogs who may live in your garden pond), like cool, damp conditions. Their housing should include a cutaway section so that they can be in contact with a cool patch of soil during the summer. But for birds, bats and small mammals like hedgehogs, it's essential that any nesting space is waterproof and will keep them warm and dry.

If buying your nestbox from a reputable dealer, they should give you all the important advice on what species it attracts and how to install it in your garden. But we've got a few tips and pointers to help you get started, whether you're purchasing something ready-made or building your own.

Asking the "nest-issary" questions

Before buying or building any kind of wildlife box, you should research the species you're looking to attract. Here are some points to consider:

  • How much space do they need?
  • What kind of temperatures and conditions do they prefer?
  • What predators are they under threat from, and how can you protect the nestbox from them?
  • Where would they naturally build their nests - do they prefer to be at ground level, or hanging high up?
  • Are they a species that hibernate, and what extra steps will you need to take to protect them over the hibernation period?
  • Do your target residents live in your area? It might be worth checking with a local wildlife group to save yourself from putting up a nest for an animal who won't be around!

More food for thought (environment, material, space)

There are also some things you should consider, whatever kind of animal you're hoping to house.

All nests should be big enough for their residents to behave in the same way that they would with a naturally built habitat. That means room for them to rest comfortably, and space for them to nest, hibernate, feed and rear their young.

It's important that the nest is made of hardy enough material that it won't fall apart under pressure from hungry predators or extreme weather. Regardless of the material, make sure that you check for sharp edges, splinters and exposed nails inside and out.

You're likely to want to put your nestbox out during the colder months too, so you'll need to make sure that it's a material that will survive the frost! And you may want to make things a little easier for yourself by choosing a nest that won't be too hard for you to spring clean between nesting seasons.

It's also important that you look at the legislation relevant to the species you intend to cater for. Many species, including all wild birds, are legally protected in ways you need to be aware of. For example, you will need a General Licence to be allowed to remove abandoned or unsuccessful eggs from wild birds nests.

The "nest" step

We've got more advice on helping the wildlife around you, as well as a number of helpful fact sheets about different species that are common in England and Wales.

Helping wildlife in winter

We can all struggle when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and our wildlife friends are often the most vulnerable to the extremes the elements take. Find out how you can help:

How to lend a helping hand to wildlife in winter.

More from our blog

7 ways nature can help keep us happy and healthy.

Batty for bats: Our team of animal rescuers don't just help cats and dogs.

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