Nest box

Nest box
Typical nest boxes in the UK
One of several birdhouses in Gramercy Park, New York City
Multiple nest box and feeding station
Several bird houses

A nest box, also spelled nestbox is a man-made box provided for animals to nest in. Nest boxes are most frequently utilized for wild and domesticated birds, in which case they are also called birdhouses, but some mammalian species may also use them. Birdhouses are the most common types of nest boxes as they are small and easy to take care of while attracting many birds. Birdwatchers often use them to lure birds into their private land for mark and recapture tracking.



Nest boxes are usually wooden, though some for birds are made from a mixture of wood and concrete, called woodcrete. Metal nest boxes are also marketed, but these are generally unsuitable for outdoor use, as they can overheat easily in sunshine.

Many nest boxes are cuboid and have a sloping roof, with a hinged top, side or front to provide access for cleaning, bird ringing or, when used for domesticated species, to give the breeder access to the young. Boxes may either have an entrance hole or be open-fronted. Some nest boxes can be highly decorated and complex, sometimes mimicking human houses or other structures. Nest boxes may also contain nest box cameras so that use of, and activity within, the box can be monitored.


Western Bluebird leaving a nest box

Different sizes of nest-box suit different species of birds with very small boxes attracting wrens and treecreepers and very large ones attracting ducks and owls. The maintenance of nest-boxes to remove old nest material and any parasites is important if they are to be successfully re-used.

Blue Tits, Great Tits and Tree Sparrows have been shown to prefer woodcrete boxes to wooden. Birds nesting in woodcrete sites had earlier clutches, a shorter incubation period, and more reproductive success, perhaps because the synthetic nests were warmer than their wooden counterparts.[1]


A typical bat house affixed to a tree trunk

Bat boxes differ from bird nest-boxes in having a (usually) much smaller opening, often on the underside of the box. Populations of many bat species are becoming threatened because of ecological pressures and the provision of appropriate bat-boxes can help support locally important populations. Bats are a means of natural mosquito and insect control in some parts of the world. A single bat can eat 500 to 1,000 mosquitoes a night[2] as well as other insect pests.[3] Directions for making the open bottom bat houses for small and large colonies,[4][5] as well as locations to purchase them are available on the internet.[6] Bat houses are an ecologically friendly way of controlling mosquitoes as pesticides mostly kill the mosquitoes' predators rather than mosquitoes.[5] Australian Bat Box projects have been running for over 12 years in particular at the Organ Pipes National Park. Currently there are 42 roost boxes using the "Stebbings Design" which have peaked at 280 bats roosting in them. The biggest problem with roosting boxes of any kind is the ongoing maintenance; problems include boxes falling down, wood deteriorating and pest such as ants, the occasional rat, possums and spiders.

Other creatures

Nest boxes are marketed not only for birds and bats, but also for butterflies[7] and other mammals, especially arboreal ones such as squirrels and opossums. Depending on the animal, these boxes are used for roosting,[citation needed] breeding,[citation needed] or both or, as in the case with butterflies, hibernation[7]. Wasps may build their nests inside a nest box.

Bird in Wooden House


  1. ^ García-Navas, Vicente; Arroyo, Luis; Sanz, Juan José; Díaz, Mario (2008). "Effect of nestbox type on occupancy and breeding biology of tree sparrows Passer montanus in central Spain" (PDF). Ibis 150: 356–364. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2008.00799.x. 
  2. ^ "Bats and Bat Houses". Mosquito Abatement District-Davis Headquarters, Kaysville, UT. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  3. ^ McAvoy, Gene. "Hendry County Horticulture News: Bats Eat Mosquitoes as Well as Numerous Garden Pests". University of Florida; Cooperative Extension Service. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  4. ^ "Single chamber bat house (wall mounted)". Bat Conservation International. Archived from the original on 2007-10-31. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  5. ^ a b Brown, Carla. "Why I Built A Bat House". National Wildlife Federation. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  6. ^ Boleky, Vaughan (2005-2006). "Why Are Bat Houses Important?". Organization for Bat Conservation. Archived from the original on 2007-11-10. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  7. ^ a b Nina Bergström. "Fixa fint för fjärilarna", Expressen, 16 June 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2011. (In Swedish)

External links

Media related to Birdhouses at Wikimedia Commons

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • nest box — noun : a box provided for the nesting of domesticated animals (as hens or rabbits) * * * nest box or nesting box noun A box set up for birds to nest in • • • Main Entry: ↑nest * * * (also nesting box) n. a box provided for a bird to make its nest …   Useful english dictionary

  • Nest box camera — A nest box camera, also known as a bird box camera, is a device for monitoring birds in nest boxes. Many pictures and videos of nesting birds can be watched on Internet sites that broadcast video stream and still images in real time.[1]. Contents …   Wikipedia

  • nest box — (also nesting box) noun a box provided for a bird to nest in …   English new terms dictionary

  • nest box — noun A man made box provided for wild birds or small animals to nest in …   Wiktionary

  • nest-box — …   Useful english dictionary

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  • nesting box — nest box or nesting box noun A box set up for birds to nest in • • • Main Entry: ↑nest * * * ˈnest box 7 [nest box nest boxes] ( …   Useful english dictionary

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