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Nest Boxes for New Zealand Wild Birds

See more about:  Nesting Boxes  Attracting Wild Birds  Attracting Birds to Your Nest Box  Attracting Birds with Nesting Materials
 Identifying New Zealand Backyard Birds 
  Attracting and Feeding Kereru  

While most wild birds around the world seem to prefer making their own nests in the wild, many have adapted to using nest boxes in urban areas simply because their traditional nesting areas are no longer there. The same is becoming true for many New Zealand birds. Until recent times it seemed that, by in large, only some introduced species would take advantage of nesting boxes, now many more species are being reported to be using them.

Some native birds like the Grey Warbler and Silvereye, who make intricately woven nest that hang from the larger branches of mature trees, have been reported to being making their nests in open front type nesting boxes. Tuis have also been found in these nesting boxes although their traditional nests are twigs and fibres, lined with feathers and fine grasses and are usually placed in fork of a tree. The Little Owl (introduced in the early 1900's) is another bird that has recently taken to using open front nest boxes and there should be no reason that others like the Morepork can not be persuaded to take up residence in one.

It would appear that with the growing popularity of back yard bird feeding, in New Zealand, these birds are finding most of their requirements such as feed, water, shelter are being met and are prepared, on some occasions,  to compromise on the nesting situation.

Many introduced birds will use nest boxes.
The Thrush and Blackbird, both use an open type nesting box but will usually use a different one for each clutch of eggs, so it pays to have several scattered around your property. Although they will both use the identical nesting boxes their actual nests are vastly different,  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.

The most well known introduced bird to use nesting boxes is probably the Starling. These birds have been encouraged to use boxes, since their introduction in 1862, by farmers who hoped wanted the numbers to build up to help combat grass grubs and other insects. Starling boxes need a 42mm entrance hole. This allows them access but stops Myna birds (also members of the Starling family) who will take over a nest, destroy the eggs and use it for themselves.

The common House Sparrow is often overlooked when it comes to providing nesting boxes. In the past many of these nested under house eaves but with different building techniques and designs many of these little nooks and crannies have disappeared leaving sparrows without favourable nesting spaces.

Use chart below to determine the proper nest box for each bird species you want to attract. Although these birds do have preferences for the type of nesting box and the diameter of the entrance hole, not all birds will follow the chart, so don't be surprised if another bird decides to nest in a box you intended for someone else! 

Bird Type of nest box / hole size
Blackbird open box type
House Sparrow 32mm hole
Little Owl 100mm hole or open type
Grey Warbler open box type
Silvereye open box type
Tui open box type
Myna 70mm hole
Starling 42 mm hole
Dove 200mm hole or open type
Thrush open type box


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