National Nest Box Week takes place every year from 14th-21st February with the aim of encouraging people to put up nest boxes. Putting up boxes helps to provide suitable places for breeding birds, many of which are struggling to find natural nesting sites such as holes in trees and old buildings. As trees are cut down and old buildings are repaired, there are fewer available nooks and crannies for the garden birds which would traditionally use these places for nesting. Taking part in National Nest Box Week gives you the opportunity to contribute to the conservation of your favourite birds, and if you’re putting up a box in your garden then you may also have the joy of watching these birds take on parenthood, and hopefully raise some chicks!
To celebrate National Nest Box Week we held a morning of making bird boxes at Brynna Woods and Llanharan Marsh Nature Reserve. With the help of some wildlife enthusiasts, we were able to create several nest boxes to go up into the trees at Brynna Woods, and also some for the participants to take home for their own gardens. We made our boxes from spare timber and followed 2 different designs; a traditional type of box with a small hole in the front, and an open fronted box. Different types of boxes suit different bird species, for example Blue tits, Great tits and Nuthatches will use boxes with small holes in the front, whilst Robins and Pied wagtails will use open fronted boxes. In total, more than 60 species of bird in the UK have been recorded using nest boxes.
A few years ago The Trust was able to construct and install 50 nest boxes thanks to a legacy left by Megan Jones. Although the primary objective of the scheme was to provide nesting sites for kestrels, the boxes proved to be attractive to other birds such as barn owl, tawny owl and stock dove.
The location of the nest box is really important and must always be sited with the safety and comfort of the bird in mind. In general bird boxes should be placed on a tree, between 1 and 3 metres above the ground, avoiding places where branches or other plants obscure the entrance hole, or if there aren’t any available trees, on the side of a building or wall. The open fronted nest boxes leave the eggs and chicks much more exposed, so they should be attached to something where surrounding vegetation will hide the box from view. The boxes should be sited fairly far apart from each other and away from bird feeders so that disturbance to nesting pairs is minimised. Nest boxes should be angled away from the prevailing wind and rain and should not be exposed to full sunlight throughout the day, as the chicks can get too hot and cannot regulate their body temperatures.
Birds start to pair up for breeding at the end of February and the beginning of spring, but don’t worry if you’ve missed National Nest Box Week, as it is never too late or early to put up a nest box. We’ll be putting our bird boxes up at Brynna Woods and hope that you’ll also chose to provide some nest boxes in your garden too.