National Nest Box week

Warmer weather and longer days in the UK are a signal that many migratory birds are about to return from their winter residences.

Once more the British Trust for Ornithology is organising National nest box week in a hope that everyone will make a home for birds, both resident and migratory.

This year is the International Year of Biodiversity and people all over the world are being encouraged to look at ways to safeguard the variety of plants and animals on their doorstep.

So why not take part in this year’s National Nest Box Week and lend a hand to nesting birds in your garden or local green space?

National Nest Box Week is organised by the British Trust for Ornithology and founding sponsor Jacobi Jayne & Company, runs from 14th to 21st February and is this year being promoted by Simon King.

Information booklet

To support National Nest Box Week, Simon has worked with BTO scientists and Jacobi Jayne to produce an information booklet, which tells you how to make a warm, dry home for the birds that share your garden and lifts the lid on what happens inside your box between March and June.

This is available via the National nest box week website.

Build your own nest box

Nest boxes are incredibly easy to build or buy and can make a huge difference to the lives of our garden birds.  Blue Tits love them but you could get all manner of species moving in”, says Jeff Baker, the BTO’s organiser of National Nest Box Week.

More than 60 species of birds have been recorded using nest boxes. Most commonly, Blue and Great Tits, House Sparrows and Starlings will use the typical round hole design, while Robins and Spotted Flycatchers prefer open-fronted boxes.

If you are confident with a saw and a bit of a dab hand at the DIY then maybe you would like to make your own nestbox.

Many plans and diagrams are available on the internet and in books. Here is one way starting with a piece of wood 150mmx1170mm.

Helpful nest box tips

Viv Greenough, the BTO’s nesting expert, hopes that this is going to be a good summer.  Here are her top tips to help breeding birds:

  • Put up a nest box during National Nest Box Week.
  • If you already have a box for Blue Tits, then why not make or buy an open-fronted box for a pair of Spotted Flycatchers or Robins?
  • Providing high-energy foods (such as peanuts and fat balls) at feeding stations can help adult birds boost their breeding performance.
  • Change your bird bath water regularly so that birds can keep their feathers in prime condition.
  • Avoid using garden chemicals as chicks and juvenile birds feed mostly on insects and caterpillars.
  • Think natural – plant a variety of native species to enhance and promote biodiversity, an insect-rich garden will also benefit birds.
  • Grow climbers against walls and fences to provide shelter, roosting and nesting sites for birds.
  • Think about birds that don’t use boxes (such as Blackbird and Dunnock) – keep your shrubs and hedges thick and avoid hedge-trimming and pruning from March to August, inclusive.
  • Dead wood is great for biodiversity (especially insects); dying shrubs and plants are best left to decompose naturally.

National Nest Box Week gets underway on Sunday 14th February 2010.

Nest Box Challenge

Putting up a nest box is great fun; however the fun is only just beginning!

To get the most enjoyment out of your nest box, take part in Nest Box Challenge (NBC) on-line.

You can do your bit to help the BTO monitor the breeding success of birds in Britain’s green spaces by recording the activity of the adults and the contents of your nest box at regular intervals during the breeding season

This year, as well as monitoring your boxes, the BTo want you to tell them about the other nests that you find in your garden/local green space, such as Woodpigeons and Blackbirds.

So remember to look out for breeding activity in your trees and hedges this year too!

Nest box challenge website

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