Taking part

A nest box in your garden is enough to make a contribution to Nesting Neighbours but of course birds nest in other places too: the Blackbirds in the shrub, the Wrens in the ivy, the Mute Swan nest at the local pond. Any active nest you become aware of you can potentially monitor for Nesting Neighbours, and you can monitor as few or as many as you like. With nest boxes you can also begin recording them before they are used, and if they don't get used then that is still useful information on what is called 'occupancy rate'.

Learn how and what to monitor

You can monitor a nest by watching from a distance, inspecting up close or installing a camera. You'll need to know what to record and if you'll be inspecting up close you must know the Code of Conduct, our guidance on preventing harm to nests. Please see the section 'How to monitor nests' for more details.

Register online

If you haven't taken part in an online BTO survey before, you'll need to create your own My BTO account so that you can log in and participate. Once you have a username and password, you'll need to tell us that you want to do Nesting Neighbours.

Log in and start recording

Once you've registered, just log in to the Nesting Neighbours 'Data Home' page whenever you want to add or view data.To get started recording a new nest, just follow the instructions that appear on screen when you log in.

Don't forget nest box and habitat details

As well as monitoring what happens to a nest, it's also important to tell us what habitat it is in and if the nest is in a box then some details about its construction, e.g. what it's made from. Just log in to the Data Home page for details on how to do this.

Important reminders

  • Monitor your boxes at regular intervals throughout the season and record what happens. We want to know about successful nests, nests that fail, and nest boxes that don't get used.
  • Keep checking your box and looking out for nests until the end of August – most nest box species don’t fledge chicks until the beginning of June, and some species may have a second brood in the summer.

Need a nest box?

Get up to speed with our essential nest box guide, which includes plans for four common species.

Download the Nest Boxes Essential Guide


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