Nest Boxes

You may be forgiven for wondering “where did birds nest before humans started supplying nest boxes?” Sadly chainsaw-wielding humans are increasingly likely to remove dead or decaying trees before they become choice homes for hole-nesting species, hence the importance of supplying alternative sites. Graham Bell explains all in a helpful article entitled THENEEDFORBIRDNEST. If you feel inspired to build a nest box yourself, Philip Hanmer has kindly supplied several designs in the article below…

NEST BOXES: We are indebted to one of our members and Barn Owl expert Philip Hanmer for the attached instructions relating to the building and siting of nest boxes. Links to his nestbox designs are embedded in the text of this page- see below.

These links have information from Philip’s monitoring of Barn Owls in the County,

BARN OWL RESULTS 2017  Ringers-Year-Barn-Owl-Table-November-2022

  1. 1. BARN OWL: The best location is an ‘open’ agricultural type building.

The 2023 version is available here : The Northumberland Barn Owl box 4

OR  Side of Tree BO box Revised (2022)

Second best is to locate in a tree with a good open view out; not inside a wood as you would for tawny owls.

Don’t put boxes on poles in the middle of fields; they have lots of problems associated with them.

A height of not much more than 3m is best. A box can sit in a fork of a tree with one or two bearer beams of wood each side to make it level. Best wood for this is the stuff that has been dipped in preservative – but never use creosote or similar, anywhere near wildlife.

The box itself should be painted on the outside with wildlife friendly water based preservative – but put nothing on the inside. Use exterior quality type plywood or similar if at all possible.

N.B. Don’t obscure the owls access hole. vegetation etc.

Needs cleaning out in the late autumn and fresh wood shavings (pet bedding) added.

If there are not any natural roost sites close then a second box might be needed to encourage breeding – as the male often roosts separately (but close) to a breeding female.

Barn Owls like boxes a lot and they can adopt a box any time of year to roost; they actually nest April-May-June-July.

Barn Owls have special protection in law and you need someone with a Schedule one license to inspect (disturbance) in the breeding season.

2) TAWNY OWL: Best location is attached to a tree inside a wood.

Place inside a wood, 2 or 3 metres up. Don’t look directly in a box if you think there might be an owl in it (they can fly at your eyes). Nesting April/May/early June).Plans for Tawny-Duck Nest Box (click on link) The Northumberland Tawny-Duck 2023 suitable for Tawny Owls or Goldeneye or Mandarins depending on location and/or adaptation.

3) LITTLE OWL: needs an open site

Need an open site (like a Barn Owl tree but can be on the side of a building). Only 2m up. Nest May/June

The Northumberland Little Owl box3a (1)

4) PLANS for KESTREL BOX, nest box for TREE SPARROW/REDSTART and new Swing Front Box for Sparrows, Tits and Redstarts. A nest box for Treecreeper (click on links)

The Northumberland Kestrel box 2020

The Northumberland Marsh Tit Bird Box 2023         ‘Swing’ Bird Box (small)    Top Opening Bird Box    Tree Sparrow and Redstart Box     Willow Tit   The Swanwick Treecreeper box     

5) Phil has produced a PLAN for a SWIFT BOX

Northumberland Swift Box 2023 v3

You will require Acrobat reader to view and print this file. If you don’t already have it, get it here!

PHH 01665 574358