Valentine’s Day 2013 is the start of the 16th annual National Nest Box Week (NNBW), organised by the British Trust for Ornithology and sponsored by Jacobi Jayne, during which people across the UK and the Channel Islands are asked to put up nest boxes for their birds. The summer of 2012 proved to be one of the worst breeding seasons on record for many of our most familiar birds. With UK rainfall totals for April and June being the highest ever recorded, many species struggled to raise young. Caterpillars were in short supply, a result of the cool, wet weather, and blue tits and great tits fledged fewer chicks, 13% and 18% respectively — the second lowest productivity recorded for great tit in almost 50 years. The poor 2012 season could have a lasting effect. Many fewer young birds fledged, and the recent freezing conditions and prolonged snow cover in the UK won’t have helped the survival rates of those that did.
It’s not all bad news, though. Many of our smaller birds, including the tits, are able to produce large numbers of young and so have the capacity to bounce back quickly after a single bad year. All they need is somewhere warm and safe to build a nest, and some kind spring weather. Paul Stancliffe of the BTO said, “Putting a nest box up is one of the easiest of things that we can do to help. Whether it is a homemade box or a specially designed box that has been purchased, the joy of seeing it occupied is exactly the same. Even if it isn’t used to raise a brood of youngsters it could still be used as a safe warm overnight roost. So go on, put up a nest box this National Nest Box Week and do your bit to help.”
NNBW aims to encourage everyone to put up nest boxes in their local area in order to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our breeding birds and wildlife. Whether you’re a family with space for a box in your garden, a teacher, a member of a local wildlife group, or you belong to a bird club and could organise a work party, National Nest Box Week gives you the chance to contribute to the conservation effort in the UK while giving you the pleasure of observing any breeding birds that you attract.
More than 60 species of birds have been recorded using nest boxes. Most commonly, blue and great tits, house sparrows and starlings will use the typical round-hole design, while robins and spotted flycatchers prefer open-fronted boxes. House sparrows, starlings and spotted flycatchers are all red-listed species of conservation concern.
Visit the National Nest Box Week website for more information on nesting birds, choosing bird boxes, or building your own.