Nature with Nik Mitchell: A simple bird box can bring so much joy to your life

Bringing wildlife to your garden

Thanet nature expert Nik Mitchell, from Minster, runs the Wildlife Conservation in Thanet page on facebook:

I’m a big believer in co-habiting with wildlife not co-existing.

National Nest Box Week is an established part of the ornithological calendar. Celebrated from February 14th each year, it focuses on breeding birds and encourages everyone to put up nest boxes in their local area. A simple bird box can bring so much joy to your life.

In Thanet over the years lots of natural nest sites such as hedges, holes in trees and old buildings have disappeared due to tree felling, building repairs or manicuring gardens. The loss of these habitats has devastating consequences, especially for some birds that use the same nest site each year, for example swifts. This housing shortage is one of the reasons for the decline of birds.

Fortunately, nest boxes are a very effective replacement for natural nest sites. There are different nest boxes to suit different species of bird. Types of bird box vary and it’s good to mix it up and have more than 1 type.

For example

  • Robins and wrens prefer an open-fronted box
  • Blue and great tits like boxes with holes in
  • Sparrows like to nest with other sparrows and like a bird box terrace. The hole size of a bird box is very important, the bird wants to feel secure and use a box with the smallest entrance possible, 1mm to a bird is like 1ft to us
  • 25 mm for blue tits.
  • 28 mm for great tits and tree sparrow.
  • 32 mm for house sparrows
  • 45 mm for starlings.
  • Open fronted box for robins, wrens and blackbirds

Putting up a nest box in your garden is a brilliant thing to do for breeding birds, having birds move in, raise their young and fledge is an amazing experience year after year, it’s very good for your wellbeing knowing you have helped to give life, it helps you to feel part of something bigger.

Though boxes can be bought, it is more fun to make your own with scrap wood, it doesn’t matter how good your woodwork skills are (see plan in this article)

  • When siting your nest box, ‘where’ is quite important.

Nest boxes must

  • provide a safe, comfortable environment and protect the birds from predators like cats and squirrels
  • The height of the box is not crucial but try placing it at least two metres off the floor
  • The direction of the entrance hole should be away from the prevailing wind (so not facing south west)
  • It is helpful if there is a clear flight path to the box.
  • The box should also be sheltered from strong sunlight

So, don’t wait, the nesting season starts NOW!


  1. great idea, already have seven boxes in position shame there are so few birds left in the area to use them.

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