Why have a National Nestbox Week?
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has declared 14-21st February as National Nestbox Week. The aim of the week is to encourage people to set up their own nestboxes and provide more suitable habitats for the UK’s native birds to breed in. Natural nest sites for birds such as holes in trees or old buildings are becoming scarcer each year as we ‘tidy up’ green spaces and have our older buildings repaired.
Providing new nest sites is now more important than ever following the devastating storms that hit the UK throughout January and February. Thousands of mature trees that have been used as nesting sites for generations of birds have been lost to the high winds, making competition for suitable nesting sites even higher.
What can you do to help?
Putting up a nest box in your garden can really help your local birds and it will also give you something interesting to watch. There’s lots of information online that can help you to create and site your nest box, but a few tips are as follows:
1) Choose your nest box depending on the type of bird you want to attract – if you follow a template for a bird box, different species need different sized holes to make a nest. Consider the birds you’d like to see in your garden and cut the hole with them in mind:
- 25 mm for blue, coal and marsh tits
- 28 mm for great tits, tree sparrows and pied flycatchers
- 32 mm for house sparrows and nuthatches
- 45 mm for starlings
2) Site your nest box carefully. Don’t put it in direct sunlight or in the face of the wettest winds – generally this means facing your nest box between North and East, although tall buildings or trees that provide shade also help.
3) Make sure birds have a clear flight path to the nest without any clutter in the way; it can help to tilt the box forward so that any rain drains away from the nest hole.
4) Clean your nest box out every year after your birds have vacated, this means that another set can take up residence next year.
More information can be found at:
What do we do at The Landscape Group?
Here at The Landscape Group we try to make sure that we accommodate local wildlife within our sites as much as possible. We have active and successful nest box schemes across many sites, from the modern Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to the historic Stratford Park in Stroud.
The Landscape Group’s Stratford Park contract is celebrating this week’s National Nest box Week with the ongoing success of its own scheme established in 2009. The scheme was set up to provide new nesting sites for hole nesting species such as Nuthatches, Coal Tits and Little Owls that had lost natural nesting sites through loss of hollow trees. Since the first 12 boxes were erected 5 years ago most of the target species have increased and have shown good signs of recovery, especially Little Owls who have bred successfully twice in the past 3 years (picture attached).
The park now supports 52 nest boxes providing homes for small birds and birds of prey including Tawny Owls who nested in 2013 for the first time in 40 years. 2013 also saw the introduction of boxes for water birds such as Grey wagtails and Kingfishers.
Mike McCrea (Contract Supervisor at Stratford Park) said: ‘From the success of our nest box scheme, it is clear to see that providing wild birds with new homes and working with the environment to restore and enhance their habitats is having a positive impact on the status of birds in Stratford Park’. ‘This will be even more important in future following the recent storms, where many trees which provided nest sites for key species have been lost’.