WB3: Large wildlife box

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the large wildlife box item.

How much will be paid

£100 per box.

Where to use this item

Available for Mid Tier


  • with options HS1 and HS8 in Mid Tier (can be used in other circumstances in Higher Tier)
  • for barn owls or kestrels (these are the ‘target species’), unless there is support from the RSPB or a Natural England bird specialist for another species
  • when the other year-round requirements (summer and winter foraging habitat) for the target species are being met on the holding or nearby

How this item will benefit the environment

This item provides artificial nesting and roosting sites for large birds, in particular barn owls and kestrels.


Agreement holders will need to agree with Natural England a specification for the box. Each box should be sited in the agreed location and cleaned out in the autumn (October and November), unless hibernating or roosting bats are using it. Each box must be maintained in good condition, with any damage or losses made good during the agreement term.

Keeping records

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them on request:

  • any consents or permissions connected with the work
  • receipted invoices, or bank statements where a receipted invoice is unavailable
  • the date that the nest boxes are cleaned out (unless used by bats or invertebrates)
  • please see the record keeping and inspection requirements as set out in the Higher Tier manual for more detail

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them with the claim:

  • photographs of the completed work

Applicants will need to send the following with their application:

  • photographs of the proposed site for the wildlife box

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this item

The following section gives advice on carrying out this item successfully but does not form part of the requirements for this item.

Each box must be maintained in good condition, with any damage or losses made good during the agreement term.


This item can be used anywhere on the holding. Ideally it should be used with other habitat options such as moorland, rough grassland, boundary field margins, in-field or boundary trees, or historic buildings.

Keep the box in its original location if it is being used. If it is not being used after year 3, ask Natural England for relocation advice.


Natural England will give location and design guidance as well as the specification, which is likely to include:

  • box design and materials
  • preferred location
  • maintenance requirements

The Barn Owl Trust has information on the best locations and how to construct a box (kestrel boxes generally follow similar construction guidance). The RSPB also has information on barn owl and kestrel boxes.

The box should be at least 1km away from any motorway, dual carriageway or similar major road. It should have entrance holes:

  • at least 100mm diameter or 100mm by 100mm square
  • that are, ideally, 100mm by 130mm
  • and are at most 150mm by 150mm (up to 210mm by 300mm for kestrels)

It should also:

  • have a nest chamber floor area of at least 0.16 square metres (that is, sides at least 40cm x 40cm), ideally 0.2 to 0.4 square metres
  • be at least 46cm from the bottom of entrance hole to the nest (but only 10cm for kestrels)
  • have an external platform below the entrance hole or perch with enough room for an entire brood of owlets or young kestrels to exercise and await food deliveries
  • be easy to clean
  • have wire straps with hose, nylon bolts or aluminium nails to secure the box to the tree or building to prevent damage
  • have its tree fixings adjusted each year so they do not cut into the growing tree or cause the box to ‘explode’ off the bolts
  • be sturdy yet light enough to allow safe erection using basic equipment
  • be covered with thick roofing felt if outside

Further information

See the Mid Tier manual to find out more about the scheme and how to apply.

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 18 May 2017 + show all updates
  1. Also available in Higher Tier.
  2. Updated for 2017 applications.
  3. Information updated for applications in 2016.
  4. First published.