by Aspect County

Home to roost

With the nesting season not that far away, our garden birds will be starting to prepare for their busiest time of year. The main nesting season runs from March through to August, but rather aptly, birds are traditionally thought to have paired up by Valentine’s Day. Many of us are aware of how vital it is to feed our garden birds, but it’s also just as important that they have a suitable shelter and site for breeding. With natural habitats such as trees and hedgerows being lost to development and the increase in urban housing, some of our garden birds struggle to find a safe shelter to rear their young.

When is National Nest Box Week 2022?
National Nest Box Week takes place every year between 14 – 21st February and is organised by the British Trust for Ornithology. It is a celebratory period aimed at encouraging more people to help the birds by putting up nest boxes.

How can I get involved?
Even if your garden is small and you only really have space for one box, it all helps. However, the more boxes you have the greater the chance of birds nesting. Provide enough space between them though, as birds are territorial, and more than sixty species of bird are known to use nest boxes. The first thing to consider is the kind of birds you’re hoping to attract, or which regular visitors are already in your garden. 

The placement height of the box depends on the species. Robins, wrens and blackbirds like their nests 
1.52m above ground, whereas sparrows and tits prefer 24m. The entrance hole opening on the nest box determines which bird it will appeal to most. If you have blue tits or coal tits, then nest boxes with a smaller entrance hole of 28mm are what they will be looking for. A larger 32mm hole is preferred by great tits, sparrows and the occasional pied flycatcher or nuthatch. Birds such as robins, wrens, blackbirds and pied wagtails prefer more open nest sites and will happily move into an open-fronted nest box.

The ideal location for a nest box should have some foliage cover but there must be a clear flight path to the entrance. If possible, face the box between north and east to protect against the strongest wind, rain and sunlight, you can angle the front of the nest box vertically to prevent rain from entering. A top tip is to avoid putting your boxes too close to bird feeders as the regular disturbance of other birds in their territory can cause birds to abandon nests. 

The rewards for creating a haven for garden birds are endless, the regular visits back-and-forth to the box will keep you entertained for hours. You may even be lucky enough to catch fledglings taking their first flight. 

Squire’s Garden Centres has 15% off all wildlife food, shelter and accessories 11 – 27 February 2022 instore or online (code WILD15’).