Photo © Robert J. Baker

Nest Box Trouble Shooting Guide

Having trouble with your nest box tenants? Use this quick guide to troubleshoot it.
Download the Nest Box Trouble Shooting Guide

What You Might FindWhat May Be the CauseWhat You Can Do
  • Eggs or nestlings missing, nest intact
Snake, rodent, House Sparrow, House Wren
  • Install predator guards or baffles on the box pole
  • Move boxes away from areas where House Sparrows are prevalent
  • Place House Sparrow deterrents or excluders on the nest box
  • Move boxes away from prime House Wren habitat
  • Eggs or nestlings missing or on ground under box
  • Nest disturbed, partially pulled out of hole, or on ground under box
  • Adult feathers scattered on ground below box
Raccoon, cat, squirrel, human vandalism
  • Install predator guards or baffles on the box pole
  • Install boxes high enough so cats can’t leap from the ground to the box roof
  • Place box away from trees or fences to prevent raccoons and cats from climbing or jumping to the box
  • Securely close box with screws or nails
  • Eggs on ground under nest, nest intact and tiny holes pecked in eggs
  • Nestlings dead in box and with signs of trauma, especially around the head
  • Adult dead in nest, signs of trauma, especially around the head
House Wren, House Sparrow

Note: Dead adults and nestlings more likely due to House Sparrows

  • Move boxes away from areas where House Sparrows are prevalent
  • Place House Sparrow deterrent or excluders on the nest box
  • Move boxes away from prime House Wren habitat
  • Eggs fail to hatch
  • Nestlings or adults dead in box, no signs of foul play
Infertile eggs, runt eggs, female disappeared, bad weather, chemical poisoning, nestlings or adults could not climb out of box
  • Don’t use lawn, garden, and insect chemical products
  • Discuss possible chemical application problems with neighbors, golf courses, etc.
  • Install fledgling ladder or roughen up the inside of the nest box directly under the entrance hole
  • Some things are beyond our control