Nesting & Nest Boxes

Many birds around the world will use a nest box. Most of New Zealand's native and endemic birds, however, prefer their own nest making. Nesting specific to New Zealand's native and endemic species
Grey Warbler and Silvereye Some nests are intricately woven and hang from branches like the nests of the grey warbler and silvereye.
Tauhou (Silever Eye nest)Tauhou (Silever Eye nest); T.H. Potts, Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, Volume III, 1870
Fantail The fantail’s nest is like a small cup made with grasses and moss, bound together with cobwebs and lined with feathers.
LINK to Fantail nest page
Piwakawaka (Fantail nest)Piwakawaka (Fantail nest); Potts, T.H., Transactions of the NZ Institute, Volume III, 1870.
Stitchbird 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.
Tui and Bellbird 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.
LINK  to Tui nest page
Tui nestTui nest; Potts, T.H., Transactions of the NZ Institute, Volume II, 1869.

LINK to Bellbird nest page
Korimako (Bellbird nest)Korimako (Bellbird nest); T H Potts, Transactions of the NZ Institute, Volume II, 1869
Welcome Swallow The Welcome swallow makes its nest of mud under the eves of a house or bridge or some other structure.
Swallow nest with 5 chicks peering out Swallow's nest, Waikanae, New Zealand, November 2021, M. Prachett. Thanks for "putting up with us", Maureen.
Kotare (Kingfisher's nest)Kotare (Kingfisher's nest); T H Potts, Transactions of the NZ Institute, Volume II, 1869
Kingfisher and Morepork The kingfisher uses or makes a hole in a bank or tree. The Morepork sometimes use a hollow in a tree but will use other places that are well camouflaged as well.
  Nesting habits of introduced birds
Little Owl The little owl, introduced in the early 1900's from Europe, may use a nest box. Thrush and Blackbird 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 Mallard ducks have also been know to use a nest box and some acclimatization societies have built nest boxes in areas frequented by ducks.
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
Some suggestions for working with nest boxes
  • 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.
  • Insure the nest box out of the reach of cats and dogs.