National Nest Box Week was established and developed by the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) to provide a focus on nesting birds and to support their conservation and local biodiversity. It encourages the placement of nest boxes in your local area, at a time when small birds traditionally pair up ahead of the breeding season. Natural nest sites such as holes in trees or old buildings are disappearing fast, so our native birds need all the help they can get to find a safe spot to breed. Birds may even use the nest box year-round, roosting cosily in it during the Winter months.
Whether you have space in your garden, are a teacher, or belong to a wildlife group, placing a nest box or two not only helps the birds but provides an opportunity to observe bird behaviour more closely. There are even nest boxes available with built-in cameras, or space to put your own camera, making the breeding season especially exciting for children and adults alike.
Some good tips from the BTO for placing a nest box include:
- Use insulating material such as wood, at least 15mm thick. Metal or ceramic materials would get too hot or cold for the birds inside.
- A 32mm hole will suit most small hole-nesting birds, whereas a smaller 28mm hole will restrict the box to Blue Tits.
- The box should not be too small inside as this may limit the number of eggs laid, at least 130 square centimetres (20 square inches) is ideal.
- Perches are unnecessary and may even provide a foothold to predators such as squirrels and cats who go after the eggs and chicks.
- You will need easy access to the box to give it an annual clean ready for next year.
- Don't place nest boxes too close to each other as neighbours can be aggressive towards each other.
- Shelter the box from the weather - facing away from prevailing winds, rain and strong sunlight.
- Keep the box away from bird feeders to avoid distracting breeding pairs.
Why not make your own? Here is a great guide from the BTO - Make a Nest Box >
Here at Really Wild Bird Food, we have a great selection of nest boxes and accessories (such as metal plates to protect the holes from predators). Why not take a look now... and don't forget that if you include any seed, peanuts or suet pellets with your order then delivery becomes FREE! Shop Nest Boxes >
We recommend this Gardman Simple Multi Nest Box as a great starter box, as you can choose between a 32mm hole, 28mm hole or open front design to suit a wider range of birds and habitats, for just £6.95! Or why not get the kids involved to paint their own design, just £5.99.
Contact us for more information about bird homes, nest boxes and other wildlife products. You can call us on 01489 896785 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEWS FROM THE FARM
As I write this, there have been snow flurries here in the south and the temperature has certainly dropped by a few degrees.
October was a lovely month for us; dry and warm, which meant our cover crops grew really well. Our buckwheat flowered for a long time providing some very welcome late nectar for the bees. However buckwheat doesn't like cold weather and it has started to fall over now. The linseed was somewhat slower to flower so didn't provide much late-season help for the bees.
This was Richard's first home produced cover crop and he is very pleased with the mix ratios of the various plants that he put together. This particular cover crop contained the following: oats, phacelia, linseed, buckwheat and sunflowers. Each element with a specific function, contributing to improved soil quality and stability.
- Oats have a deep fine root which hold nitrogen and potash in the soil, and when the plant dies off it provides lots of organic matter for worms, so we see huge numbers of worm casts everywhere :)
- The phacelia will flower for the bees and it also has a shallow, fibrous root which gives a nice tilth for the soil.
- Linseed will flower and its deep root really helps with soil drainage.
- Buckwheat offers a late pollen source for bees and is a good phosphate recoverer. All clever stuff!
This is the first year Richard has direct-drilled his wheat and it is also looking really good. He had previous problems with soil compaction, so this time he ran a sub-soiler with new 'low-disturbance' legs to minimise soil compaction and the wheat looks really well as a result.
BIRDLIFE SPOTTED ON THE FARM
The use of all these cover crops on the farm seems to be having a really positive effect on the birdlife here, which is fantastic news and really heartwarming.
This month we have hosted a large flock of Golden Plover, and Snipe and Woodcock have also been seen. The biggest excitement came when Richard spotted a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - a reclusive bird that hasn't been seen on the farm for a few years - so we're delighted to know they are in our woods. These photos are obviously not the actual birds because we don't have the photographic skills (or speed of reaction!) to get great shots but nice to visualise what I am talking about.
For the full story, please visit this blog post to read all about Golden Plover.