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National Nestbox Week

So the weekend was full of love, for our partners, our pets, even for ourselves (we all deserve a treat or two). Whilst we were cosy and warm out of the cold, the birds in our garden were also looking for love. Traditionally, boxes for tits and other small birds are put up in early spring before the new breeding season starts. That’s why Nestbox Week begins on Valentine’s Day, when birds are reputed to start their courtship. So, there is no better time to dig out those old nextboxes you may have hidden somewhere or, to start a new project with the family and make one of your own! However if you do not fancy getting crafty but would still love to put up a little home for our garden birds, you can look at the official Nextbox Week website for tips on what to buy.

For more information and everything you need to know about National Nestbox Week, visit the official Nextbox Week website here.

       

Although this week is mostly based around birds get ready for the spring, here are some tips from the National RSPCA on other species you can help.

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One nest doesn’t fit all

Different animals can have dramatically different nesting requirements. The type and size of box needed will vary wildly, as well as the way that you’ll need to position it – both to appeal to your target species, and to keep them safe from their natural predators.

For example, amphibians (like the frogs who may live in your garden pond), like cool, damp conditions. Their housing should include a cutaway section so that they can be in contact with a cool patch of soil during the summer. But for birds, bats and small mammals like hedgehogs, it’s essential that any nesting space is waterproof and will keep them warm and dry.

Before buying or building any kind of wildlife box, you should research the species you’re looking to attract. Here are some points to consider:

  • How much space do they need?
  • What kind of temperatures and conditions do they prefer?
  • What predators are they under threat from, and how can you protect the nest box from them?
  • Where would they naturally build their nests – do they prefer to be at ground level, or hanging high up?
  • Are they a species that hibernate, and what extra steps will you need to take to protect them over the hibernation period?
  • Do your target residents live in your area? It might be worth checking with a local wildlife group to save yourself from putting up a nest for an animal who won’t be around!

Asking the nest-issary questions

There are also some things you should consider, whatever kind of animal you’re hoping to house.

All nests should be big enough for their residents to behave in the same way that they would with a naturally built habitat. That means room for them to rest comfortably, and space for them to nest, hibernate, feed and rear their young.

It’s important that the nest is made of hardy enough material that it won’t fall apart under pressure from hungry predators or extreme weather. Regardless of the material, make sure that you check for sharp edges, splinters and exposed nails inside and out.

You’re likely to want to put your nest box out during the colder months too, so you’ll need to make sure that it’s a material that will survive the frost! And you may want to make things a little easier for yourself by choosing a nest that won’t be too hard for you to spring clean between nesting seasons.

It’s also important that you look at the legislation relevant to the species you intend to cater for. Many species, including all wild birds, are legally protected in ways you need to be aware of. For example, you will need a General Licence to be allowed to remove abandoned or unsuccessful eggs from wild birds nests.

There is more advice on helping the wildlife around you, as well as a number of helpful fact sheets about different species that are common in England and Wales on the RSPCA website.

EmmaNational Nestbox Week