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Nest Boxes

Many birds around the world will use a nest box. Most of the New Zealand's native birds, however, prefer their own nest making. Some nests are intricately woven and hang from branches like the nests of the grey warbler and silvereye.  The fantail’s nest is like a small cup made with grasses and moss, bound together with cobwebs and lined with feathers. The Stitchbird will nest in holes in trees but may use a nest box.  However, they live on predator free islands and are not likely to be seen in the back yard. Bellbird and Tui nests are made with twigs and fibres and lined with feathers and fine grasses and are usually placed in fork of a tree hidden from view. The kingfisher uses or makes a hole in a bank or tree, while the welcome swallow makes its nest of mud under the eves of a house or bridge or some other structure. Morepork use a hollow in a tree but will use other places that are well camouflaged. But the little owl may use a nest box.  These birds were introduced from Europe early in the 1900’s.

Other introduced birds, like the thrush and blackbird, may use an open type nesting box.   These birds, however, usually build a new nest for each clutch of eggs.  The blackbird's nest is lined with grass and leaves, while the thrush's nest has a smooth lining of mud or mud mixed with rotten wood.
Mallard ducks have also been know to use a nest box and some acclimatization societies have built nest boxes in areas frequented by ducks.

Below is a list of birds that may use a nest box.  Note that all are introduced birds.

BirdType of nestbox/hole size
Blackbirdopen box type
House Sparrow33mm hole
Little Owl100mm hole or open type
Mallard150mm hole above water level
Myna70mm hole
Starling42 mm hole
Stock Dove200mm hole
Thrushopen type box

Try experimenting with different styles of boxes, bamboo, hollow logs, and disinfect the box once the breeding season is over.  Wear gloves to do this as most birds have mites and lice.

Make sure you have drainage holes in the bottom of nest box and a hinged lid or door on the back or top to make cleaning easy.  You could use a strip of leather or rubber for the hinge.  Put the nest box out of the reach of cats and dogs.


Information for this page was provided and written by Rosemary Tully;   rosemarytully@clear.net.nz
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