Do You Need To Put Anything In A Bird Box? (ANSWERED!)

If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering if your bird box is sufficient without any extra additions to it. I thought the same too. And so I went and did a little research based on some expert’s opinions and came up with this answer:

You do not need to put anything in a bird box. Any nesting material that is put in a bird box will not be used by birds; they may even remove it. However, you may choose to put other items in the bird box such as a foundation and a bird box camera to ensure the birds grow up well in the bird box.

Despite that, there are some extra items that you can include to enhance your birding experience from your bird box. Read on more to find out why birds reject nesting material PLUS some ideas on what other items you can include in your bird box!

Why Nesting Material Is Not Recommended To Be Placed In A Bird Box

Firstly, you have to understand that our feathered friends, birds, are extremely fussy animals that are highly particular about their nests. As an analogy, take it that if someone were to do the interior design of your house for you and it’s totally not to your liking. The same goes for birds!

Birds of different species have different tolerance levels to the decoration and layout of their homes. They are also picky in how they want their materials to be interwoven into a nest.

Examples of nesting materials that birds use are grasses, twigs, fallen feathers, metal wires, mosses, and mud. As different birds have a different preference for these birds, they may even take to remove some of the nesting material you place in your bird box, which will totally make your efforts go in vain.

If you’re not careful in the items that you place in the bird box, you may even inadvertently include some poisonous materials. As such, it is wise to stay away from doing all the nesting for the birds and let them build their own homes.

Additional Bird Box Item Ideas

With all that convincing that bird boxes shouldn’t be filled with anything, and especially nesting material, you will probably be thinking: “won’t it be too empty and uncomfortable?”

Well, the truth of the matter is that you will need to be educated on what kind of additional materials can be added to the bird box to enhance it, as different birds have different material preferences. With that being said here are some additional items you may want to consider including in a bird box:

1) Foundation

Instead of building the entire nest for the bird into the bird box, you can simply set up a foundation. As you do not want to include anything poisonous that may harm the bird, I will only run through the items that are of natural origin that mimic the natural nests of birds out there.

There will be no synthetic items covered as I personally do not recommend them because you do not know what harm it may cause to the birds.

Generally, the natural items to include are small dry twigs, bark, woodchippings, and leaves. One very important thing to note when you choose these items to lay the foundation of your bird box is this: do make sure that the items you choose are dry and not moist.

You may never know if the twigs or branches you picked up are teeming with bacteria/fungi/mites that may bring diseases to the birds.

With that being said, let’s now run through the different foundations that will have to tailor to some common bird box resident birds. Here’s a table to summarise it easily for you:

BirdRecommended Foundation
Robins1-inch thick of dry and dead leaves
Tits1-inch thick of soft and dry leaves
Sparrow1-inch thick of dried grass and straw
Owl2 – 3 inches of pine, beech, or oak sawdust and woodchippings
Woodpecker2 – 3 inches of pine, beech, or oak sawdust and woodchippings

From the table above, we can see that different birds have different preferences due to their size and pickiness. As such we need to be prudent in how much foundation we add to our bird boxes. If in doubt on what and how much to add, don’t add any foundation. It is not necessary but can be beneficial to attracting the birds.

2) Bird Box Camera For Monitoring

Green Feathers Wildlife Wi-Fi Bird Box Full HD 1080p Camera (2nd Gen) with IR (Night Vision)

If you’d really like to place something inside the bird box, then consider installing a bird box camera to monitor your bird box occupancy. I would recommend this to those who are curious to see and monitor the progress of the bird family that takes its residence in your bird box.

A bird box camera can be installed on the bottom side of the roof of the bird box and connected to a power supply.

In some of the bird box cameras, they have features that allow you to see the live feed from your phone! This means that you can go birding from home! How cool is that?

If that’s something up your alley, here’s an article on what are the possible options of bird box cameras that you can buy and install in your bird box.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know that including anything in a bird box is not necessary, as this is how their organic and natural environment it like, and we are striving to mimic that similar experience for the birds.

If you’d like to enhance their experience and possibly attract more birds, place a foundation or a bird box camera and nothing nothing more. That’s all folks, and I hope you enjoyed reading this article and have learnt something about what to include in your bird box. Thanks for reading and happy birding!

My Recommended Birding Resources:

Hey there, Justin here!

Here’s a list of all my favorite resources, products, and all brands I trust and love.

Although some may be affiliate links, I will only recommend those that I think are of great value. Simply purchasing using the links helps to keep this blog running!

  • My Binoculars: The pair of binoculars that I personally use is the Celestron Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars. It’s a great budget pair for beginner birders. Highly valued for its price! Read my review here.
  • Safe Paint for Bird Baths: Not any paint can be used to paint bird baths. Links to all safe paint for bird baths are in this article I wrote!
  • Safe Sealers for Bird Baths: Not all sealers can be used to paint bird baths. Links to all sealers for bird baths are in this article I wrote!
  • Safe Paint for Bird Feeders: Special care needs to be taken to paint bird feeders with the right paint. Read more in the article here!
  • Safe Paint for Birdhouses: Not any paint can be used to paint birdhouses. Links to all safe paint for birdhouses are in this article I wrote!
  • Birding Apps: 2 of my favorite birding apps are Merlin Bird ID, and eBird Mobile! Merlin is great for tracking and identifying birds, and eBird Mobile is great to track the birds sighted when birding. Read a post about them here.
  • Birding Websites: I’ve compiled a list of links to my top 10 recommended birding websites in a blog post. Find the links here!
  • Birding Podcasts: Birding podcasts are a great way to learn about birds. Links to the top 8 that I recommend can be found here!

Alternatively, you can check out my resources page here where I’ve compiled all the links to the above!


Justin is a hobbyist birder that hopes to share his birding knowledge with the world. His favorite bird is the Large-tailed Nightjar and he really loves potato chips!

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