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National Nest Box Week

Posted 06 Feb 2018

NNBW takes place each year from 14 - 21st February, and after more than 19 years it is now an established part of the ornithological calendar. NNBW aims to encourage everyone to put up bird boxes in their local area in order to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our breeding birds and wildlife.

Whether you’re a family with space for a bird box in your garden, a teacher, a member of a local wildlife group, or you belong to a birding club and could organise a work party, National Nest Box Week gives you the chance to contribute to the conservation effort in the UK whilst giving you the pleasure of observing any breeding birds that you attract to your garden

Mid-February is the time that birds across the country begin to pair up, or get back together for the forthcoming breeding season, and the search to find a safe place in which to build a birds nest and raise a family begins. 

Over 20 different bird species regularly use nest boxes: from Blue Tits, which use the ‘standard’ small-hole type of nest box, to birds like the Barn Owl that use a much larger nest box with a much larger entrance hole. 

Two of our closest bird neighbours, the House Sparrow and the Starling, have shown dramatic declines in recent years and by putting up a nest box we can help provide the space they need to build a nest, and present an opportunity to collect valuable data. For House Sparrows a nest box with a 32mm entrance hole is what is needed, and for Starlings a slightly larger box with a 45mm entrance hole is ideal. What ever your nest box requirements here at Gardenature we have garden bird boxes to suit all requirements, or better still 

No garden is too small for a bird box, in the case of the House Sparrow and the Starling all you need is a little space high up on the wall of the house. For those lucky enough to have more space why not put up two or more bird boxes. Even if your nest box isn’t used to raise a family it might still be used as a safe, warm and dry space for birds to roost overnight.

Siting a Nest Box Top Tips for success..

  • Not too close to another nest box - nest boxes of the same type should not be sited too close together as this may promote aggressive behaviour between neighbours.
  • Shelter your box from the weather - the front of the nest box should be angled vertically or slightly downwards to prevent rain from entering the nest box. Make sure it is sheltered from prevailing wind, rain and strong sunlight. Ideally place your bird box facing in a north, north easterly direction with a clear flight path.
  • Height from the ground should be upto 3 metres - small-hole boxes are best placed 1 - 3m above ground on tree trunks, but avoid sites where foliage obscures the entrance hole. If there are no trees in your garden, the next best option is to place your box on the side of a shed or wall. 
  • Open-fronted nest boxes should be hidden from view - attach your box to a wall or fence that has shrubs and creepers growing against it
  • Make sure cats cannot get into the box - ensure that it is not easily accessible to predators (cats and squirrels). 
  • Consider a metal plate around hole to deter squirrels - this preventive measure that can be used to deter squirrels from gaining access
  • Keep nest boxes away from bird feeders - as high levels of activity of visiting birds could disturb nesting pairs.
  • Use galvanized or stainless steel screws or nails that will not rust. If fixing boxes to trees, galvanised wire can be used to tie the box to the trunk or hang it from a branch. Make sure to regularly inspect these fittings to ensure the box remains securely attached.
  • Traditionally, nest boxes for small birds are put up in the spring - pairs begin to prospect in the latter half of February, so a box put up at the end of the winter stands a good chance of attracting nesting birds. However, it is never too early or late to put up a nest box, as some birds will use them to roost in during the winter months.

Siting a Bird Nesting Box most common things NOT to do.. 

  • Don't site your box where it will be in full sunlight, this can cause the contents to overheat. 
  • Don't use a box with a perch. These can allow access to predators such as squirrels. 
  • Don't place the box close to a bird feeder. Visiting birds could disturb the nesting pair. 
  • Don’t choose a box which is incorporated in a bird table, this is just a cosmetic design  
  • Don’t choose a box made from​ materials like ​metal or ​ceramics as the interior can become too hot or too cold for chicks to survive 

If you want to take part in National Nest Box Week, please click for your Free Information Pack

by Simon Byland