What are the best ways to help birds during National Nest Box Week?
...help birds to thrive by putting up and caring for Bird Nesting boxes!
We’re looking forward to National Nest Box Week starting on 14th February as for us it means that the birds are ready to cosy up together and we’ll soon see some fledglings around!
After several years of talking to experts and making the best of the best bird nest boxes (of course!), we’ve got our top advice together to help you to choose, install and maintain bird boxes and to help you to support National Nest Box week with us, so read on and swot up!
Why we need to help our garden birds by providing nest boxes
More than 40 million birds have vanished from the UK in the last 50 years, including many of our much loved woodland birds. Changes from old farm buildings to modern ones has led to a loss of nesting sites, habitat diversity has reduced and farm chemicals - fertilisers and pesticide use has increased. With 80% of the country as farmland, this represents a lack of natural habitat for birds to call home.
What birds use nest boxes?
More than 60 species of birds are known to use nest boxes! That means you can help a wide range of birds in your area to thrive including Nuthatches, Tree sparrows, Redstarts, Swifts, Swallows..
Why should you provide bird nesting boxes in your garden
The changes of the past 5 decades affect birds in suburban and urban areas too. Loss of hedgerows and natural lawns, increases in artificial gardens through the use of decking, tarmac, gravel and artificial grass have reduced habitats and food sources, and an increase in traffic has increased the risk of birds being killed.
And so it’s no surprise that as well as feeding the birds in winter and year round, that providing a nest box for them can greatly help to improve the chances of success for raising their young
What makes a good bird nesting box
Birds need a warm, clean dry and well insulated space in which to raise their young and have successful broods. The type of nest box needs to provide safety from predators like weasels and the features that they look for if they are to choose a nesting site in the wild. If the box you are planning to use has a secure door for cleaning access, make sure it’s robust and snugly fitting like the ones on our bird nesting boxes. Boxes that use woodcrete or concrete make for good hygiene and won’t rot or need chemicals and preservatives.
How to choose the right nesting box for your garden
The type of nesting box depends on the height that you can hang it, aspect and which types of birds you want to cater for in your garden. If you’re looking to cater for Bluetits and Coaltits, then you need a box with a 25mm diameter hole such as this Birdball or Birdblock. If slightly larger birds such as House sparrows are present in your trees and hedges, then they need a slightly different entrance hole. Choosing a nesting box without a perch will help to keep the birds safe from predators
Where to place your bird nest box
You can place bird nest boxes in trees, on walls and fences and on buildings, some can even be integrated into your build such as Swift Nesting Boxes, Sparrow Nest boxes and Bird boxes. Some birds perform better in colonies such as swifts, and so you can install rows of Swift Lofts at height within the fascia/ soffit gap.
Which direction should a bird nesting box face
Bird nest boxes for garden birds such as the Green&Blue BirdBlock need to be placed 2 metres off the ground, north or east facing, in a quiet spot away from doors, windows and vents. They can be placed under the eaves of a building for shelter, but away from predator access (such as in close proximity to fences or garage rooves, for example). Sparrow nesting boxes need to be placed facing north or east but at least 3m (10ft) from the ground. If you are looking to house swifts, their nesting blocks and boxes should be installed above 5m and on a side that gets shade during the day, and with clear flight access.
It’s important that your bird house isn’t in direct sunlight where it can get overheated in hotter weather
How to attract birds to your nest box
Siting your nest box in a quiet spot within bushes and trees and in the cover of foliage gives them shelter and shade and will help the young to take their first flight. If you provide them with materials to help build their nests such as dog hair, wool and have sticks in the proximity of the nestbox it will help them to make their nest easily. You can hang suitable materials in a Birdball Belle feeder
Should you clean a nest box?
Cleaning nest boxes should only be done for certain species. Swift boxes need to be placed high up and are protected so their nests shouldn’t be touched, however if you have a sparrow nest box, the RSPB recommends that it should be cleaned at the end fo the nesting season. And birdblocks for Bluetits and Coaltits can only be cleaned between September and January after the end of the nesting season. If you have a query about specific species, take a look at the RSPB’s website for further information. Do not open a bird nesting box during nesting season between February and August, as this might make the birds abandon their young
How closely can you put nest boxes to one another?
You can use more than one bird nesting box on a wall, small garden birds such as Bluetits will breed next to one another and House sparrows will nest in loose colonies so two or three boxes can be sited spaced out on the same side of a house, although you should try to avoid placing them in areas where Housemartins usually rest. Swifts also will nest in colonies and so you can create multiple nesting provisions.
How to position a nest box when you have bird feeders
Birds won’t nest in areas that are noisy and have a lot of other bird activity happening so if you have a bird feeding area, place your nesting box away from it so that the nesting birds don't feel the competition, feel the need to defend their territory and can have a little quiet with their young!
We hope that this helps you to choose and install a bird nesting space in your home or garden, have you got photos of a bird using a nest box? Please share them with us! firstname.lastname@example.org