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National Nest Box Week

National Nest Box Week

Each year, Valentine’s Day marks the start of National Nest Box Week. Mid February is when many birds will start to pair up and seek out territories for the breeding season ahead so now is a great time to put up new nest boxes, says the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

Loss of suitable habitat, changes in land-use and other factors have impacted negatively on many of the UK’s breeding bird species, resulting in many well-known species, such as House Sparrow and Starling, being placed on the Birds of Conservation Concern Red List. As a consequence, gardens and public green spaces are ever more vital for declining birds. It is increasingly important that these feathered neighbours find a safe place to raise their broods. By providing nest boxes near our homes, we can help many of our garden visitors thrive.

There is a staggeringly wide variety of boxes, each designed to suit different species. Some birds are secretive and like to nest away from others while others choose to form small colonies. Also, access to the box will determine which birds may use it. Robins, Wrens and Spotted Flycatchers for example, prefer open-fronted boxes while sparrows and tits will use ones with holes. Whether you build your nest box or buy one ready-made, consider which birds you hope to attract. The box should be located where the entrance is sheltered from prevailing wind, rain and strong sunlight.

A bird that also takes readily to artificial nesting sites is the Swift. These astonishing aerial acrobats have suffered major population declines in recent decades and many homeowners are now providing special boxes for these dynamic travellers, whose distinctive screaming calls were once a familiar summer sound in our cities and towns. With a fondness for nesting on tall buildings and under house eaves, Swifts have suffered as a result of widespread home improvements and the restoration and repurposing of old industrial buildings. These incredible birds spend most of their lives on the wing, only landing when they come to nest with us. Now, thanks to the popularity of Swift nest boxes, people all around the UK are creating new homes for these birds with considerable success.

The BTO website has a dedicated nest box page providing information and advice on the building, buying and positioning of nest boxes and the different birds that can be attracted.
For details visit: bto.org/how-you-can-help/providing-birds/putting-nest-boxes-birds

As well as providing an invaluable home for our garden birds, nest boxes can also help supply important data. The BTO’s nest monitoring schemes offer a way for people to monitor the health of our nesting bird populations by sending in their records, contributing vital information to the understanding of birds’ breeding success. To find out more, go to: bto.org/how-you-can-help/providing-birds/putting-nest-boxes-birds/monitoring-nests

The BTO’s Nesting Neighbours survey organiser Hazel McCambridge, said “It really benefits our garden birds to put up boxes to provide them spaces to nest, particularly in urban and suburban areas where nest sites are very limited; by collecting information on nesting attempts we are able to keep track of how successful bird breeding is each year and how this is affecting populations. This provides an important puzzle piece in understanding how habitat and climate change is impacting Britain’s birds.”