Birds live in a variety of habitats, including bird boxes, shrubs, trees, and hedges. You can put these in your garden to encourage bird populations.
Bird boxes provide safety for breeding birds.
Commonly used bird boxes:
- Traditional: rectangular boxes with small round entrance holes. Suitable for small birds eg Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, and Sparrows. Be careful as different species need slightly different-sized holes, for example, a Great Tit needs an 18mm hole, whereas a Blue, Coal, or Marsh Tit needs 25mm.
- Open-fronted nest boxes: larger entrance hole or an open front, suitable for birds that enjoy a more exposed nesting site eg Robins, Wrens, Kestrels, and Blackbirds.
- Swift nest boxes: swifts are migratory birds that nest in buildings and are declining in numbers. These boxes are designed to mimic their nesting sites, usually placed on the sides of buildings. Have a narrow entrance slot.
Bird boxes are best placed away from direct sunlight, 2-4m above the ground. You should avoid placing them too close to a feeder so the nesting birds have some privacy and quiet!
Shrubs for birds:
Shrubs provide food shelter and nesting sites. Examples of particularly good ones:
- Hawthorn: Dense, thorny branches that provide good protection.
- Guelder Rose: Dense shrub growth provides nesting sites and cover
- Elder. This shrub has dense foliage, providing great nesting and cover sites.
- Blackberry. These bushes have thorny thickets, providing shelter.
- Cotoneaster. This shrub has a really dense growth pattern to provide shelter.
Trees are often great habitats for birds, and different types of trees will attract varying species of birds, for example:
- Oak: Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, and Owls enjoy oak trees specifically for habitats, however insects that tend to live near oak trees also attract Blue Tits, Great Tits, and Warblers.
- Hawthorn: offers dense foliage and thorny branches. Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, and Finches enjoy this.
- Willow: Warblers, Finches, and Tits favour this tree.