Many of us enjoy feeding the wild birds that visit our garden, but few of us go to the next stage and provide nesting sites. This year National Nest Box Week starts on Valentine’s Day – when tradition says that birds pair up – making it n excellent time to put up a nest box or two.
To help you turn your garden into a safe haven for birds, CJ Wildlife has the following expert advice on nest boxes.
There are lots of different designs available but the simplest choice is a nest box with a 32mm entrance hole. This can be used by all of the common nest box users such as blue tits, great tits, house sparrows or nuthatches.
A smaller hole size lets you influence which birds can get in, so 28mm holes excludes house sparrows and nuthatches, while 25mm holes will only admit blue tits or less common nest box users such coal or marsh tits.
Where to place your nest box is simple: the box needs to be sheltered from midday sun, prevailing winds and rain. A site facing somewhere between north through east to southeast is best, but other aspects are fine if protected by, say, a mature hedge.
If fixing the box to a tree it’s more important to place it on the dry side of the trunk to avoid flooding during heavy rain. A clear flight path is important but cats may be attracted by the comings and goings at a nest box, so avoid sites that a cat could access, such as along the top of a fence.
Boxes can be placed at chest height to allow for convenient cleaning – simply remove old nest material between October and January – but if located next to a busy area, such as a patio, aim for a height of at least 2.5 metres. Birds visiting feeding areas can be seen as rivals, so it makes sense to site nest boxes away from your feeders.
Wood is the material that most of us associate with nest boxes and can look great, but a durable mix of wood and concrete such as WoodStone® offers greater insulation, will last for many years and also provides protection from squirrels and woodpeckers.
Nest boxes with an open front may be used by birds such as robins, wrens or pied wagtails. Because the box provides no protection against predators, it’s important to hide these boxes behind vegetation, preferably thorny.
Gardens are important habitats for some bird species, so by providing a regular supply of food and water and offering nesting sites you can create a valuable haven that also looks great.
For high quality nest boxes and bird food plus more information on caring for the wildlife in your garden please visit www.birdfood.co.uk