The Finch Weekly

Choosing the right nest box when breeding finches is often a case of trial and error.  Unless you know what kind of nest the bird was reared in, then there is often a lot of guess work involved in the process.  And even when you do know what type they were raised in, there’s no guarantee that they will choose that same nest box themselves!  Following a look at nesting materials for finches, I thought I would do a bit of an overview of the types of nesting boxes I have used and some of the others on the market.

Wicker baskets

One of the most popular types of nests, particularly in flights and large cages are wicker nests.  These use woven wicker to mimic the kind of nest that the birds would make in the wild and also can easily allow the birds to add nesting material of their choice. 

There are different sizes and also shapes with some having metal hooks on the back to attach to mesh or wood poles while others have strings to hang from hooks or even from the roof.

You can also get wicker nesting pans that mimic canary nesting pans and can be hooked onto mesh.  These can sometimes be lined with plastic to help extend their lifespan and make them easier to clean. The medium ones of these can be the perfect zebra finch next box size while smaller ones work well for waxbills and smaller finches.


Can be quite cost effective to buy and allows the birds to use their natural nest building abilities while giving them a stable base in which to build


Do tend to get messy once used and don’t wash up too well however as they are less expensive, it can be just as easy to throw them out after a few uses and get new ones!

Birds can get their nails caught in the gaps between the wicker slats, leading to injuries or worse

Wooden nest boxes

Wooden nest boxes are also easy to come by and are available in the widest range of sizes and configurations.  For finches, the open front style is often popular while ones similar to wild bird nests with a single, small round hole are also available.

You can get ones for specialist species such as the L-shaped ones for Gouldians and bigger versions for Lovebirds while the larger nests with side doors and a front hole can be chosen by bigger finches such as Javas as well as some smaller parakeets.  Zebras and other obsessive nest builders will sometimes use much bigger nests and have a field day with all that nesting material!


Very easy to clean – you can scrape mess off the top and also soak them in disinfectant water to then scrape them clean

You can paint them to make them easier to clean and also to alter their appearance


Hard to clean the corners in some designs so there’s always the slight concern about mites

Heavier than wicker or plastic so need to be screwed or nailed onto wood in many cases

Plastic nest boxes

When it comes to cage breeding, plastic nest boxes can be ideal as they usually include fittings to hang from nest box doors on cages.  They also often have different ways to open them to do nest checks and often have ventilation slits in the base of them to allow a little air flow. 

There are lots of different styles available including the half open style, small hole style and larger ones for bigger finches or those who like more room.


Easy to clean, can be soaked in boiling hot water with disinfectant and then rubbed clean

Long lasting due to the ease of cleaning


Styles with little pegs or hooks can break and this means the nest won’t hang on the cage front

Some styles have full opening lids with no viewing gap or opening sides that means nest checks can be disruptive and a bird can sometimes fly out past you (speaking from personal experience!)

More expensive than wicker nests and sometimes than wooden versions

Specialists nests

There are also different types of nests for different types of birds – the L-shaped Gouldian nest is one example shown above. 

Canary nesting pans are a good example, usually make from plastic and hooked or screwed into wood or onto nests.  Canaries build their nests in these and they can also be used by finches as a base for a globe style nest.  I also recently found some for my caged canaries that have a cage around them so can be added externally on the cage and also keep the nesting material in place for the messy nest builder.

Dove nesting pans often look like a small platform as doves don’t make much of a nest.  These are often made from wood and are great for this type of bird.  Again, they can also be used as a base for other birds to make their own constructions.

Many types of nest boxes made for wild birds can be offered to aviary birds in the chance they may like them.  I sometimes find with that kind of nest, it is best to leave the lid open for a while so birds can see inside and know there is nothing nasty waiting for them.

Creating nesting spaces

Some birds just like to build their own nest and therefore it is important in a flight particularly to make spots where they can nest.  Fake plants and trees are great for this and so too are real plants.  Look at the kind of location that the birds might use in nature to help choose – if they like tree hollows, then nest boxes looking like this might work while real pieces of tree with cavities in them can mimic this.

Another idea I was showed some time ago was to construct a mesh barrel around a column in the aviary or as a free-hanging structure.  Fill it with nesting material, straw or grass and the birds can then bury into it and build their nest.  I’ve only had some success with it – namely because the birds insist on pulling all the material out and building elsewhere!  But I’m going to make a few changes and try again in spring.

The best nest boxes for finches

The question of which is the best nest box for finches does rely a lot on the type of finch in question. And even the individual bird! I’ve had Gouldians who loved those L-shaped boxes and others who were terrified. I’ve had Zebra Finch that go made for a plastic nest and others who try to build a free-standing one on a branch (repeatedly). So a little trial and error is often needed to get the right result!

5 Responses

  1. Your news letter doesnt recognises any of my email addresses either hotmail or yahoo. Why is this??

    1. Hi Craig not sure if you saw the email but I’ve no idea why you couldn’t be added to the list so I’ve done it manually for you. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *