Having had some lovely news about the barn owl box we put up in a nature reserve with Macclesfield RSPB – a pair of barn owls have been spotted – we’ve also been turning our attention to the bird boxes in our own garden. It makes me so happy hearing news about our barn owl box from afar, but it also makes me want to do more in our own garden too.
Kennedy Wild Bird Food asked me to share some insights into putting up a nest box this week, something we loved doing and have had a lot of fun with.
The kids both made bird boxes with the RSPB at their WOW event, we put them up in the garden ages ago, forgot about them, and now Spring is here and we are having to resist the temptation to disturb the birds to look. We hid the boxes against a wall, behind a giant bush, as we don’t have trees. We keep seeing a little robin near one of them, which makes me really smile. Watching him or her come and go I am really starting to wonder if s/he has nested in one of our boxes.
I would really recommend getting a nest box, birds really struggle to find enough homes. Kids seem to think a bird will move in instantly, which can be a bit frustrating, but if you focus your energies while waiting on feeding and making the garden bird friendly, the birds will come! Making the box ourselves at an RSPB event was lots of fun, but I will share some tips below for buying a box too.
We’ve definitely seen more birds in our garden this Spring, and that’s a lovely sign. We made more effort with feeding them and it paid off. Our homemade fat balls really helped to encourage lots of birds into our garden and the kids really loved making them. Not for much longer though as birds need fat balls over winter and early spring while feeding and supporting young, but fat balls can go rancid in the sun and peanuts can choke baby birds, so bird seed is a much safer option once the weather warms up. We’re trying to remember to keep putting seed in the feeders.
Traditionally, nest boxes for small birds are put up in the spring – although a box put up at the end of the winter stands a good chance of attracting nesting birds. However, it is never too early or late to put up a nest box as birds use them for shelter over the winter too.
To attract nesting birds, your box should be wooden, not ceramic or combined with a feeder, with walls at least 19mm thick and at least 130cm squared floorspace. A 32mm entrance hole is perfect for all small nesting birds, to attract blue tits only, go for 25mm. Not all ‘bird boxes’ are actually suitable for birds, ensure it can be easily cleaned out and that the holes and floorspace are large enough.
Bird boxes should be sited away from other nest boxes and feeders, sheltered and angled from the rain and sun. They should be 3 meters above ground, or 1-3m for smaller hole boxes. Open fronted boxes should be hidden from view behind shrubs. Ensure cats cannot access the box and consider a metal plate to deter squirrels available from garden centres. Use galvanised or stainless steel wire, screws or nails that won’t rust and check the box is securely attached.
Do you have birds in your garden? How do you entice them?
Image credit – Shutterstock, Blue Tit