Home & garden

Which nesting box for which bird?

There are many ways to lure birds into your own garden. One of them is hanging nesting boxes. We'll show you what to consider.

The chirping of the birds wakes us up in the morning and brings the garden to life. Our feathered friends feel particularly comfortable in a natural environment. Unfortunately, the habitat for birds is particularly limited in the cities and there are no natural breeding grounds.

Bird lovers can enjoy tits, blackbirds or sparrows by attaching nesting boxes. How you will become a good host for domestic songbirds and which bird would like to move into which nesting box is now revealed.

Why should nesting boxes be set up?

A few decades ago, chirping in polyphony was guaranteed in the home garden. However, many bird species gradually lost their habitats. Even our forests often appear to be cleaned by hand. Trees are felled, hedges are disposed of, and in the big cities, almost all of the buildings ensure that the birds stay away.

In the meantime, more than half of the bird species found in Germany are classified as endangered. Local birds can be helped by luring them back to our urban habitats and offering them a bird-friendly garden. There are many food sources and water points in natural gardens. This creates the basis for setting up nesting sites.

Tip: No bird will settle in the garden to breed if there are not enough food sources available.

By attaching nesting boxes, we make a valuable contribution to nature conservation. We ensure the survival of endangered bird species and give the domestic birds their urban habitat. Nesting boxes should be installed wherever trees have been felled, hedges and bushes have disappeared, and buildings also lack suitable breeding niches.

Another good reason for attaching nesting boxes is that bird lovers will have a lot of fun building and will also have the opportunity to give their children meaningful employment and to sensitize them to nature as a valuable and indispensable part of our life.

What should a nesting box look like?

The shape of the nesting boxes is of secondary importance. You do not need to be afraid that the nesting aid appears too large to the birds. You will lend a hand and pad the dwelling accordingly.

However, some factors should be considered when building a nest box:

  • stable and solid construction
  • solid wood
  • no gaps
  • stable attachment
  • Adapt the entrance opening to the desired birds
  • easy cleaning

So there is little point in simply buying an indiscriminate nesting box without having previously considered which birds are in the garden and which bird species you actually want to house.

Overview of different nesting boxes

A rough division can be made into the following nesting boxes:

Cavity nesters box

The cave brood box is the most common nesting aid. Tits, sparrow, wren and other small birds find a welcome breeding ground here. The boxes are self-contained and only have an entry hole, which should be adapted in different diameters to the respective bird species. We will go into more detail on the corresponding dimensions. The nesting boxes can be easily attached to branches and should be placed at a height of two to ten meters.

Nest in the nest box:

  • bluetit
  • Tit
  • star
  • nuthatch
  • Flycatcher
  • Wendehals
  • Tree sparrow
  • house sparrow

Half cavity nesters box

Birds that build their nests not in closed caves, but in crevices and niches need a half-cave breeder box. The nest box is closed at the back and should be attached to a protected place so that the breeding birds are protected from jays or magpies. A closed nesting box with several entry holes also serves the purpose of a niche brood cave.

Nest in the half-cave brood box:

  • robin
  • wren
  • wagtail
  • Redstart
  • Spotted Flycatcher

Tree Creeper Box

If there are already several trees in the garden, the natural hatchery can be supplemented with a tree runner box. The box has a side opening and can be easily reached by the birds. The nesting boxes are placed at a height of three to four meters.

Nest in the tree runner box:

  • Waldbaumläufer
  • Treecreeper


Sparrows used to be at home in cities. Today they have become alarmingly rare. You can bring the cute birds back into the garden with a sparrow house.

The natural brood chamber was once on house facades and roof gables. Most of the apartments are now renovated and well insulated. The sparrows' hatchery was lost. Sparrows are considered sociable birds and are reluctant to breed alone. Therefore, they will like a large nesting box with several entry holes.

Swifts box

The swift is also a victim of modern housing. Attaching its nests to the outside walls of buildings is becoming increasingly difficult. If you want to give swifts shelter, you have to put three to five boxes under the house roof. It can also be attached to the garden shed. A height of six meters should not be undercut with the swift box.

Note dimensions

The look of the nesting box is secondary. Whatever you like is allowed here. There are no limits to creativity and colorful villas and small castles are often created.

However, the diameter of the entry hole should be noted. This varies between the different bird species.

Diameter in mmspecies
  • bluetit
  • Coal Tit
  • Tit
  • Crested Tit
  • Tree sparrow
  • house sparrow
  • nuthatch
  • Flycatcher
  • Redstart
  • star
  • Buntspecht
  • jackdaw
  • dove
  • forest Kautz

In the following overview we have listed the common dimensions for nesting boxes.

Dimensions nesting box in mm width x depth x heightspecies
140 x 140 x 250
  • bluetit
  • Tit
  • house sparrow
  • Tree sparrow
  • Redstart
160 x 160 x 320
  • star
170 x 280 x 110
  • swifts
250 x 250 x 350
  • jackdaw

Attach the nesting boxes correctly

Nesting boxes should not be placed too close to the ground. This would make the breeding grounds easy prey for cats or martens. A nesting box is placed at a height of at least two to three meters.

The entry hole should not face the sunny south side. Orientation to the west is also less favorable. Ideally, the entry hole is made towards the east or southeast.

A stable attachment is particularly important. Fixed wire brackets can be used so that the tree is not damaged. Alternatively, wood screws or aluminum nails can be used.

Nesting aids should not be installed in spring, but in autumn. A wintering place for birds, insects and small mammals has also been found.

What else needs to be considered when attaching nesting boxes?

A sunny location should be avoided. The first warm spring days can already heat up the nesting box dangerously. Usually there is no protective canopy. Metal or plastic nesting aids are not recommended. Wood has the advantage of not overheating and being able to drain off moisture.

So that the nest box can be easily cleaned, it should be easy to open. If, on the other hand, the nesting aid is nailed all around, you will no longer have the opportunity to open and clean the breeding site. However, this should be done regularly after each season.

Clean the nesting boxes properly

When the breeding season is over, the nesting aid has to be cleaned. Late summer is the ideal time to clean nesting boxes. Before the first frosts you have to expect that tits, dormice or butterflies will already set up there for the winter.

The incubator is opened first. Gloves should be worn because there may be fleas, mites or flies inside. The old nest is removed and disposed of. Then it is sufficient to brush out the box thoroughly. Water or cleaning agents should not be used.