20 best buy bird boxes
20 best buy bird boxes
Garden birds need all the help they can get so we've chosen 20 boxes that will offer them shelter and a place to nest
Reproduced from the Jan 09 issue of Gardeners' World magazine. This month's issue on sale now. Visit the Gardeners' World magazine site for more top tips
1. Raise the roof
The 32mm hole makes this ideal for nuthatches, tree sparrows and larger tits, but bluetits might like it too. The wood-lined galvanised roof is waterproof, the 15mm-thick FSC-timber walls give extra insulation and there's a flap for easy cleaning.
What: Gardman Nordic Nest Box (H 22cm x W 22.5cm x D 16.5cm)
From: B&Q, 0845 850 0175, www.diy.com Price £9.98, available in-store only
2. Double up
Bag a bargain and get the best of both worlds with this pair of sturdy, FSC-timber boxes. The open-fronted box is designed for robins, but wrens will fancy it too, while the 30mm-hole will attract bluetits, house sparrows and great tits. Wait two to three weeks after young have fledged before cleaning so as not to disturb any possible further broods. Remove the lid for access to the hole-fronted box.
What: Pack of 2 Nesting Boxes (H 22.5cm x W 12cm x D 12cm each)
From: Argos, 0845 640 2020, www.argos.co.uk Price £9.99 plus £5.95 p&p per order
3. Grand design
For modern gardens, try this glazed ceramic box. The plastic lid and hole fittings - in four different sizes - make it totally waterproof. There's a hole for drainage, with another for mounting to a tree or post. Knock nails in just above the lid to keep determined predators out.
What: Eva Solo Nesting Box (H 25cm x W 16cm x D 19cm)
From: Wiggly Wigglers, 01981 500 391, www.wigglywigglers.co.uk Price £30 plus £3.75 p&p per order
4. Chop and change
Slot in a different-size entry hole panel every year to vary the types of birds this box will attract, or leave it open for robins, wrens and pied wagtails. It's made from 9mm exterior ply, treated with a non-toxic water repellent, with drainage holes.
What: Multi-fronted Nest Box (H 29.5cm x W 13cm x D 18cm)
From: Wiggly Wigglers, 01981 500 391, www.wigglywigglers.co.uk Price £20 plus £3.75 p&p per order
5. Tough cookie
Use this versatile box open fronted or fit the panel for bluetits, marsh tits and wrens, whose predators will have a job getting past the copper hole protector. The box is solidly made of durable larch, acacia and oak, providing excellent insulation.
What: Sherwood Interchangeable Nest Box (H 25.5cm x W 20.5cm x D 16cm)
From: Ecotopia, 0845 094 2181, www.ecotopia.co.uk Price £23 plus £2.95 p&p per order
6. A real diamond
Site this backless box against a wall. The shape helps birds build nests more quickly, encouraging multiple broods.
What: Robin and Wren Diamond Nest Box (H 24cm x W 26cm x D 15cm)
From: CJ WildBird Foods, 0800 731 2820, www.birdfood.co.uk Price £9.99 plus £1.99 p&p per order under £50 (orders over £50 free)
7. Home from home
Make robins and wrens - and even blackbirds - feel at home in this natural setting made from a single birch log. The solid, waterproof lid keeps rain out, so the box is less likely to rot.
What: Open Birch Log Nest Box (H 20cm x Diameter 16cm approx, sizes will vary)
From: CJ WildBird Foods, 0800 731 2820, www.birdfood.co.uk Price £6.99 plus £1.99 p&p per order under £50 (orders over £50 free)
8. Global appeal
This elegant terracotta ball has a 25mm hole large enough for bluetits, coal and long-tailed tits, while keeping predators out. Hang it from a tree by its 1m stainless-steel wire, with a plastic shield to protect the bark.
What: Bird Ball, available in terracotta or white (Diameter 18cm)
From: Green and Green, 01637 830 258, www.greenandblue.co.uk Price £29.95 plus £4.95 p&p per order
9. Box clever
This is an ideal nest box for wrens as well as robins, both preferring an open front. With 19mm-thick, FSC timber walls, it's sure to keep fledglings warm.
What: Robin Nest Box (H 30cm x W 14cm x D 20.5cm)
From: Crocus, 0844 557 2244, www.crocus.co.uk Price £11.99 plus £5.95 per order
10. Private pad
Entice robins and wrens by siting this mounted pocket out of sight in a low, secluded spot. A wall at the back of a bush would be ideal, especially if it's sheltered and away from prevailing winds.
What: Woven Bird's Nest, available in coconut or seagrass weave (H 26cm x W 15.5cm x D 10cm)
From: Greenfingers, 0845 345 0728, www.greenfingers.com Price £6 plus £4.95 p&p per order
These boxes are tailor-made for specific birds. Some, like those for starlings, swifts, house sparrows and kestrels, are best suited to cities, while others will be welcome to countryside dwellers.
11. Sing a song of sixpence...
Blackbirds will appreciate the extra space in this open-front box, though robins and wrens might like it, too. Blackbirds can have up to five broods a year, so wait until October before giving it a clean.
What: Blackbird Nest Box (H 22cm x W 22cm x D 25cm)
From: CJ WildBird Foods, 0800 731 2820, www.birdfood.co.uk Price £12.99 plus £1.99 p&p per order under £50 (orders over £50 free)
12. Branching out
Designed for tawny owls, though it's suitable for doves and kestrels too, this box mimics the hollow, rotten end of a broken branch. Fix to a large tree at a 45 degree angle, then add woodchip to the base to create a level floor.
What: Tawny Owl Nest Box (H 76cm x W 22cm x D 20cm)
From: Wiggly Wigglers, 01981 500 391, www.wigglywigglers.co.uk price £26 plus £3.75 p&p per order
13. DIY delight
Marsh and willow tits like to make their own homes, so give them a birch-log box filled with lightweight sawdust, which they'll gladly remove. Renew with a fresh filling of sawdust in winter or early spring.
What: Marsh and Willow Tit Nest Box (H 22cm x Diameter 16cm approx, sizes will vary)
From: CJ WildBird Foods, 0800 731 2820, www.birdfood.co.uk Price £7.99 plus £1.99 p&p per order under £50 (orders over £50 free)
14. Social housing
This terrace of three boxes with separate, 32mm entry holes is perfect for those sociable sparrows preferring to nest in colonies. It's made from FSC timber, with a hinge at the base for easy cleaning. Site high in a tree or under the eaves.
What: Sparrow Terrace Nestbox (H 20cm x W 50cm x D 16cm)
From: RSPB, 0845 1200 501, www.rspbshop.co.uk Price £23.99 plus £3.95 p&p per order
15. Open door policy
Swallows use mud to make their nest cups, but it's scarce in tidy gardens and built-up areas. Help out by mounting this Woodcrete and FSC-timber nest on a building, such as a garage or outhouse, leaving a door or window open for birds to access it if it's placed indoors.
What: Swallow Nest (H 10cm x W 20cm x D 15cm approx)
From: CJ WildBird Foods, 0800 731 2820, www.birdfood.co.uk Price £10.95 plus £1.99 p&p per order under £50 (orders over £50 free)
16. Room with a view
Large boxes are easily spotted by egg thiefs, so site this exterior-ply kestrel box high up to minimise the risk of eggs being stolen. Face it towards an open space so birds have good access and visibility.
What: Kestrel Nest Box (H 32cm x W 30cm x D 76cm)
From: CJ WildBird Foods, 0800 731 2820, www.birdfood.co.uk Price £39.95 plus £1.99 p&p per order under £50 (orders over £50 free)
17. A cup above
Like swallows, house martins have trouble finding mud for their nests, so try this frost-resistant ceramic look-alike to fit to the eaves of your house. Put up one to attract a family or five or six for a whole colony.
What: Ceramic House Martin Bowl Nest (H 10.5cm x W 20.5cm x D 11.5cm)
From: Ecotopia, 0845 094 2181, www.ecotopia.co.uk Price £9.95 plus £2.95 p&p per order
18. Wise move
Living in parks or on farmland, little owls use boxes when natural holes are scarce. They prefer to nest in dark cavities, so site the box in a shady spot. Larger birds, such as thrushes, kestrels and starlings, might fancy it, too.
What: Gardman Little Owl Box (H 48cm x W 19.5cm x D 27cm)
From: Flyte So Fancy, 01300 345 229, www.flytesofancy.co.uk Price £17.99 plus £5.86 per order under 5kg
19. Living it large
The 45mm entry hole on this exterior-ply box makes it perfect for starlings. Or, fill it with wood shavings, bark chippings or polystyrene packing chips to attract woodpeckers.
What: Large Nesting Box for starlings and woodpeckers (H 51cm x W 16cm x D 18cm)
From: The Nest Box Company, 01544 340 657, www.nestbox.co.uk Price £20 plus £8.50 p&p per order under £80
20. Problem solved
Modern houses and well-maintained roofs keep swifts away from their favourite nesting spots, so help them out by sitting one or more of these boxes under the eaves of your house.
What: Swift Nest Box (H 25cm x W 43.5cm x D 17cm) plus free CD of swift calls
From: CJ WildBird Foods, 0800 731 2820, www.birdfood.co.uk Price £29.95 plus £1.99 p&p per order under £50 (orders over £50 free)
FIND OUT MORE: For tips and advice on helping birds in the garden, visit the British Trust for Ornithology Garden Birdwatch website at www.bto.org/gbw. For information on nest box designs, download a free copy of the BTO Nest Box Guide from www.bto.org/notices/nestbox_guide.htm or contact the BTO on 01842 750 050.