The best bird boxes for your garden
National Nest Box Week is approaching. Jean Vernon takes a look at some of the options tailored to encourage birds to stay a while.
February 14-21 is National Nest Box Week, a time when love is truly in the air. If you don’t already have a collection of homes for the birds in your life, get a move on; any lingering now may result in an empty nest box for a whole year. But if you have installed the best boxes available and they remain vacant, take a look at your handiwork, assess their position and analyse where you may be going wrong.
“The main requirements for birds to nest in a garden are shelter and protection, convenient and suitable sites for nesting and regular supplies of suitable food and clean water,” says Professor John E Cooper, vet, naturalist and adviser to bird care specialists, Haiths.
Getting birds to nest once in your garden is an achievement, but if you want them to return year on year, you need to clean out the boxes. This must be done after August 1 but before the end of January. Do not attempt it now, or you could disturb a potential breeding pair, which is illegal. When the coast is clear, out of season, use a safe and approved disinfectant. It is also important to keep bird tables and nest boxes clean. The kit includes a stainless steel bird table scraper tool plus a spray bottle of Wildkleen Sanitizer.
Food for breeding birds
Don’t be too hasty with the pesticides. Caterpillars, aphids and other garden bugs provide essential protein for wild birds early in the season, while snails and their shells provide vital calcium for egg layers and developing skeletons. Encourage wildlife and insects by leaving part of your garden unkempt and keep your use of pesticides to a minimum around the garden.
Generally, birds are more likely to use a nest box that is on the edge of vegetation, rather than in the middle of the foliage.
Place the box with the entrance facing away from prevailing wind. Angle it slightly towards the ground so that rain doesn’t run in. For small birds such as blue tits, position the box 1-3m above the ground. Keep the nest box away from bird feeders to avoid territory conflicts.
Provide food and water all year round — but especially when the parents are busy feeding their young.
When it comes to choosing a nest box think natural. For the best results a nest box needs to blend with the environment.
Make sure you can open up a nest box and clean it out of season
Source: The Telegraph