Nest predation is an important factor in the ecology of passerines and can be a large source of mortality for birds. I provide an overview of factors affecting nest predation of passerines in North America with the goal that it may provide some insight into the ecology and management of woodland birds in the United Kingdom. Although several factors influence productivity, nest success is perhaps the most widely measured demographic characteristic of open-cup-nesting birds, and nest predation is usually the largest cause of nest failure. The identity of predator species, and how their importance varies with habitat and landscape factors, must be known for managers and scientists to design effective conservation plans and place research on nest predation in the appropriate context. Recent studies using video surveillance have made significant contributions to our understanding of the relative importance of different predator taxa in North America. Spatial and temporal variation in nest predation can be better understood when landscapes are placed in a biogeographical context and local habitat and nest-site effects are placed in a landscape context. Low productivity resulting from high nest predation is one of several potential causes of bird population declines in North America and the UK. Although the ‘forest fragmentation paradigm’ from the eastern US may not apply directly to the UK, thinking about avian demographics from a multiscale perspective, and consideration of factors affecting nest predation with knowledge of the dominant predator species, may provide insight into population declines.