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gardens there is generally a shortage of nest sites for many bird
species. Tits, robins, starlings, tawny owls, tree creepers,
spotted fly catchers can all be encouraged to nest in your garden if
they are provided with the right types of boxes. Some birds, such
as house sparrows and house martins, actually need the nest box(es) to
be mounted on a building, often a house. If you wish you can also
provide boxes that will attract bats and bees. Boxes should go up
in sheltered positions, away from predators at the beginning of the
year. If you miss this opportunity, it is still worth putting up
boxes anyway as they can provide excellent roosting sites for birds
throughout the year.
Blue tit feeding young
The birds listed above require different holes sizes
and shapes, and some require boxes of different sizes. The
BTO has a
great resource to help you build a standard nest box.
House martins and
swifts require special types of boxes and if you are happy to
accommodate them can provide lots of interest. These can be
purchased from specialist suppliers.
Of course you can buy most of these if you search the
web or visit good pet shops. Some super-markets sell nest boxes
too - make sure that you buy one with the FSA symbol if you can and one
that will stand up to living outside. Don't be tempted to get a
nest box built into a bird table.
The RSPB recommends the following:
'Put your box in a quiet place out of the reach of
cats, generally between two and five metres up a tree, fence or wall.
Try to face it between north and east, as this avoids strong sunlight
and the wettest winds. Tilt the box forward slightly so that driving
rain hits the roof and does not enter the box. Put different types of
box in different places around the garden. For instance, put
open-fronted nestboxes low down and hide them well in vegetation to
attract robins and wrens.
It is important to clean out your nestboxes during
the winter every year. This will prevent a build up of debris and remove
parasites such as fleas. If you put in a handful of clean hay or wood
shavings, birds may use it as a winter roost.'
If you have a bit of extra cash, splashing out on a
nest box with an built-in camera is an excellent way to enjoy the
breeding season close up and from your own couch!
Whatever you decide do try to provide a helping hand
to our breeding birds.