12 Feb 2016

Did you enjoy taking part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Bird Watch the other week and now want to make your garden more bird friendly?  

Lots of birds come into gardens in the winter looking for food, so by putting out bird food like seeds, fat balls and mealworms you’ll be helping them during these colder months.

You can also help our wonderful local birdlife by putting up a bird box in your garden or green space. And with it being National Nest Box Week next week (14th – 21st February), there’s no better time to get involved!

Robin. Photo credit Mike Griffiths

Throughout February many birds are starting to select nest sites, so providing them with one in your garden is a great way to help them out! With spring fast approaching, now is a perfect time to put up nest boxes and provide birds with a cosy home.

There are a number of different types of boxes you can put up in your garden, depending on the type of birds you would like to attract. Just like the birds themselves, bird boxes come in all different sizes and shapes – some have holes, some are open and some need to be quite high up.

Here are a few examples of the types of boxes you can buy or build and what species of bird they tend to attract:

Birds like the blue tit, coal tit, nuthatch and tree sparrow like to nest in small boxes with a small hole (25mm) as an entrance. They prefer them to be 1–3 metres above the ground on tree trunks.


Robins, pied wagtails and flycatchers like an open front box. Keep these boxes hidden from view; fix the box in a hedge dense shrubs, or hidden in ivy on a wall or tree.

Pied wagtail

There are also specially designed bricks for swallows and swifts that you can build into your wall if you’re building an extension or larger boxes that you can attach to the sides of houses or under eaves – find out how to help nesting swifts here.

You can let your creative juices flow when making a home for a bird and be quite innovative with the items you might have around the house. Why not upcycle an old boot or teapot to birdhouse by fixing them to a tree. Have a look on the internet for some inspiration.  

If you don’t get chance to put up boxes next week don’t worry, there’s no real bad time of year to put them up. Putting one up through autumn and winter can provide a cosy sheltered spot for wintering species. Here are some important hints and tips on how to put up a nest box from the British Trust for Ornithology.

Once you’ve set up your bird box keep an eye out for what visitors it attracts. Be patient and watch from a distance as you don’t want to disturb your new neighbours or their new family. Don’t forget to record what you see.

If you’re visiting Chester Zoo during half term look out for the bird boxes we’ve put up around the zoo and see if you can spot any birds using them. If you want to brush up on your bird watching skills or find out how to make your garden more wildlife friendly, then come and join our zoo rangers at the zoo during half term. We have plenty of activities taking place for you to get involved in – find out more here