National Nest Box Week is an annual event that takes place every year from the 14th to 21st February. It has been running for over 20 years and is now an important part of the ornithological calendar. National Nest Box Week kicks off on Valentine’s Day. This is because the 14th of February is typically when birds pair up for the new breeding season.
The aim of National Nest Box Week is to encourage people to put up nest boxes. This is to help breeding birds and promote the conservation and diversity of wildlife.
You can encourage birds into your garden by providing plenty of places to nest. A nest box is an excellent substitute for a tree hole, especially if you don’t have any mature trees. The species you attract will depend on the location, the type of box, and the size of the entrance hole. Our range of nesting boxes has lots of information to help you choose the best one for your location.
Here are some tips on how to position your nest box to ensure you have guests this spring
- Site the nesting box away from established shrubs and bushes where predators can hide in order to attack the box.
- Ensure that your nest box is away from your bird feeding areas. This is so there is no reason for larger birds to disturb the nest.
- Choose a nesting box that is made of natural materials and colours that blend in with its surroundings. Not only will this look better in your garden, but it will also make it harder for predators to spot.
- Do not use bird boxes that are made of metal or other insulating materials. This is because they will become too hot in the day and too cold at night.
- Paint the exterior of the bird box with bird-friendly lead-free paint, stain or varnish. Do not use paint on the interior of the bird box.
- Nest boxes should have ventilation holes on the sides. This will allow fresh air to circulate and prevent the house from getting too hot. If your nesting box doesn’t have any holes, it is easy to drill some holes on each side.
- Place the box so that it does not directly face the sun during the hottest part of the day. Where possible, position the bird box so it’s not in the prevailing wind.
- When hanging, angle the box at a slight downwards tilt so that rain cannot run into it.
- The bird box should be big enough to prevent over-crowding once the chicks have been born. This will stop the chicks from getting smothered.
- Between nesting periods, clean the bird box with a mild bleach or disinfectant and clean out any unhatched eggs. The Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981) only allows you to do this between 1st August & 31st January.
Birdbaths are a wonderful water source for birds and other wildlife. We have offered some tips below on how to keep it a safe place for all to use.
- Birdbaths can be breeding grounds for harmful bacteria and stagnant water can home insects that transmit diseases between birds. It is important that birdbaths are regularly cleaned. Clean any areas nearby where birds may wait before visiting the birdbath. Use a mild disinfectant and rinse thoroughly before birds bathe again.
- If you are planning on painting your birdbath, make sure that the paint is non-toxic and the birdbath is properly sealed.
- Position your birdbath so predators such as cats or larger birds cannot easily sneak upon them. Birds are at their most vulnerable when drinking and eating. Try placing your birdbath off the floor, near some bushes that birds can fly to if necessary.
- Small birds can drown in a birdbath that is too deep. Either choose a shallow birdbath that is less than 5 cm deep, or add rocks to the bottom for birds can perch on. Similarly, put sticks across the top so that birds can drink, but this could discourage them from bathing.
- Keep other deep-water sources covered such as water butts.
- Once birds have started to rely on your birdbath it is important that you keep supplying them with fresh water. Lack of water in the summer can lead to dehydration and in the winter, birds will use a lot of precious energy trying to melt snow and ice for drinking.
If you’re new to bird feeding or daunted by the choice on offer from bird food suppliers, then we have picked 5 brilliant bird foods that will attract different species to your garden.
You could start off with all 5 or introduce 1 or 2 to discover which works best for the birds in your area.
- Peanuts – One of the most versatile foods you can feed to wild birds and they will attract several species to your garden. Packed with vital fats and protein, they are especially good during the winter months when natural food sources are scarce.
- Sunflower Hearts – The hulled seeds of sunflowers are a fantastic source of vitamins, fat, protein and fibre so are perfect for feeding the wild birds in your garden. Best of all, because they no longer have the shell on them, smaller birds will find sunflower hearts easier to eat and they will leave less debris under the bird feeders in your garden.
- Fat Balls – One of the most popular foods you can choose for the birds in your garden. Fat balls are usually made from suet and can also include seeds, grains, fruit and insects. Many fat balls also include calcium carbonate, this not only helps bind them together but also is important for laying females to help form their eggs. All our fat balls are net free! This is important as birds can get their legs tangled in them causing injuries.
- Mealworms – Dried mealworms are packed with protein and can be offered to birds throughout the year. They are a food best served near the ground as they are popular with ground-feeding birds such as robins, wrens, and thrushes.
- Seed Mix – An all-purpose wild bird seed mix can be used all year round to attract a variety of species to your garden. Most seed mixes will typically include a mix of sunflower seeds, maize, rolled oats, pinhead oatmeal, millet, kibbled peanuts, and niger seed. Seed mixes are a versatile food that can be used in bird feeders, on bird tables or scattered on the ground.