Your bird's nesting box will hopefully become a nursery, so you should pay particular attention to selecting one that's right for your particular bird. Choosing well will help your bird more readily accept the nesting box and will hopefully lead to more successful breeding and raising of young. Selecting the correct nesting box for your bird will depend primarily on what kind of bird she is since boxes differ in design from species to species.

Kinds of Nesting Boxes

Birds such as parrots, cockatiels, budgies and lovebirds, which naturally nest in hollows or holes in trees, prefer wooden boxes or logs with round or rectangular entrance holes. If you are providing a nesting box for a parrot, it's important to choose one of durable construction because can easily damage or destroy a flimsy box, resulting in the loss of chicks and eggs. Offering your bird wood chunks or branches on which to chew can discourage this destructive behavior.

Canaries typically nest in bowl-shaped plastic, metal or earthenware "pans" lined with nesting felt.

Finches, depending on species, will nest in a variety of wicker and woven-fiber nesting baskets or small open-fronted wooden boxes.

Nesting Box Sizes

Generally, the bigger the bird, the larger the nesting box must be. Nesting boxes for Amazon parrots, for example, should measure at least 14 x 14 inches with a minimum height of 24 inches. The diameter of the entrance should be 4 to 6 inches. Boxes for cockatiels, which are smaller, should measure about 10 to 14 x 12 inches with a height of 12 inches and an entrance diameter of 2 1/2 to 3 inches.

Additional Nest Box Features

Viewing - There should preferably be a sliding side panel, removable lid or other method of viewing the eggs and young inside the nest. Don't view too often, however, or you may upset your birds.

Nesting Dish - The concave area in the floor of a nesting box, which is hollowed out to hold the eggs and sometimes called the "nesting dish," should not be directly beneath the box entrance.

Nesting Baskets - Some woven-fiber nesting boxes for finches, although attractive, can easily be torn to shreds by the birds, resulting in the loss of eggs and chicks. Choose a sturdy basket.

Nesting Boxes for Large Hookbills - Nesting boxes or logs for parrots and macaws must be sturdy. Sometimes barrels are used as nesting boxes for macaws. It is often necessary to put a ladder, preferably wooden for safety, down into a high nesting box to enable the bird to exit the box. This ladder must be secured firmly to the inside and bottom of the box so it does not fall onto the eggs or young. Some nesting boxes have a "boot-toe" extension (usually 12 x 12 x 12 inches) where the eggs are laid, preventing them from being damaged when an adult bird enters the box.

Perch - There must be a perch or landing platform mounted directly below the entrance of a wooden nesting box or log.

Nesting Materials

Like nesting boxes, nesting materials will vary from species to species. For example, Parrots may use peat or no nesting materials at all. Cockatiels generally use wood shavings. Lovebirds can use wood shavings or willow twigs. Budgerigars generally use nothing, or sometimes wood shavings. Finches may use dried grass, moss or burlap. Cedar shavings should not be used, as they can be harmful to birds. Some breeders have reported better success using ground wood rather than shavings.

Commercial nesting materials are the best choice as they are warranted to be safe and hygienic. Using natural materials such as hay may foster the growth of fungus. Use of hair or thread may entangle a bird's feet. Check with pet or pet supply personnel about which type of nesting material is appropriate for your bird.

Nesting Box Selection Chart

Species Nest Type Size Nesting Material Other Information
Budgie Wooden nest box 6 x 6 x 8 inches Coarse sawdust or hard wood shavings Should have hollow depression on floor
Finch Grass or wicker nest box Small Fine grass, commercial nesting material or nesting hair Attach to inside wall of cage
Canary Shallow bowl Small Fine grass Place on bottom of cage
Parrot Wooden nest box or hollow log Varies with size of bird from medium to extra large Hard wood shavings, peat moss Secure to inside wall of cage
Lovebird Wooden nest box Small Hard wood shavings, willow twigs, small pieces of bark, grass or leaves  
Mynah Bird Wooden cockatiel nest box Large enough for both birds to enter Twigs, straw or leaves  
Cockatiel Wooden nest box Large enough for both birds to enter Hard wood shavings Should have a low partition in the middle of the box