This weekend is the end of National Nest Box week, the perfect excuse to put up a new nest box or repair/ clean out / move an old, uninhabited one.
Blue Tit in Nest Box: David Tipling (rspb-images.com)
It began in 1997 to encourage people to put up nest boxes to help compensate for the declining natural suitable spaces for birds to nest. Not only are trees and hedgerows being cleared, but new buildings have become so secure and weather proof, they lack the little nooks and holes of old buildings where birds can build in a nest.
If you’re in the mood for a project, you can make your own nest box from wood. There are lots of suggestions online on how to build your own from the British Trust of Ornithology, The Wildlife Trusts the National Trust and Gardener's World Alternatively, you can buy one from your local garden centre or online.
Ensure that the box is positioned at the right height between 1 and 5 meters above ground and out of direct sunlight and try to face it in a direction away from strong wind. Keep it away from areas where cats can get close and leave a clear flight path available in front of it.
You don’t need to put nesting material inside the box even though it’s tempting to want to make it “cosy” for the birds! They usually prefer to choose their own nesting material but you can leave dry small twigs, leaves, grass, hay or shredded packaging nearby.
If you peek into an existing nest box and it’s not in use, it would be a good idea to give it a good clean out with water and a brush to get rid of old damp grass and leaves, mould, fungi and parasites such as fleas and ticks.
Ideally, it’s best to have the bird boxes cleaned out by the end of Jan but as long as there’s no current activity in the box yet, you could do it now.
If you want to embark on a bigger project, you might like to try making a box for Little Owls & Jackdaws, Barn Owls or Tawny Owls.
Whether you’re putting up a new box or keeping an eye on an existing one, sometimes it won’t get any residents. This might be because they’re not keen on the position, you could try moving it after 2/3 years if it’s had no occupancy.
The birds most likely to move into small hole boxes are sparrows, tits, nuthatches and wrens and if you do see a bird swooping in our out, it’s such a joy and so satisfying!
The Flatford Wildlife Garden is now closed for the rest of the winter season. Details of re-opening in Spring 2021 will be posted on this blog and the Flatford Wildlife Garden Website.
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