If you like to see birds in your garden then you probably have a bird table and maybe a bird bath. Another way you can attract birds to your garden is with a nest box. Often there is plenty of food available but (especially in urban environments) a lack of suitable places to nest. Nest boxes make great alternatives to the holes found in trees and can be a godsend to small birds.
There are many different nest boxes available, from small homes for tits to large boxes for owls, so decide which species you want to help. Different areas have different populations. In some places sparrows are in trouble, whilst in others they are thriving. Find out which birds need your help and get a box they can use.
Instead of buying a nest box (some of them can be quite expensive), if you are feeling handy, you could make your own. British Garden Birds has a set of instructions you can follow if you’d like to do this – complete with hints on how to make the box squirrel-proof (squirrels often get into nest boxes to eat the eggs or chicks).
So, you’ve bought or made your nest box. Now, where do you put it? Well, that depends on which birds it is for. Robins and wrens like their homes close to the ground, but hidden by vegetation, whilst most other birds like to be 2 – 4 metres up. It’s a good idea to place your box in a shaded spot if possible, so that it does not overheat. You should also tilt it forward slightly so that rain runs off and does not get through the roof.
In the autumn, after the box has been vacated, it’s a good idea to clean it. Parasites often remain in nest boxes, waiting to infect the next generation. Use boiling water to kill them and then let the box dry out. Insecticides are not a good idea as they can be harmful to birds. You may find unhatched eggs or dead birds inside. If so, dispose of them. It is illegal to keep the eggs.
If you do put up a nest box you’ll see some wonderful sights. Apart from mum and dad coming and going with food for their chicks, you may see them pecking at the entrance hole to enlarge it or packing it with mud to make it smaller. And then there’s the moment when the fledglings leave the nest – what a joy!
If you love birds (all of us here at Education Quizzes do) you’ll get hours of entertainment from a nest box – enjoy!