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4:05 PM 16th February 2021
nature

Let's Find More Homes For Birds

It is National Nestbox Week from 14 February to 21 February 2021 and after over 20 years it is now an established part of the ornithological calendar.

House sparrow - photo Ray Kennedy
House sparrow - photo Ray Kennedy
There are never enough holes and hideaways where wildlife can find shelter - help them by making a nestbox.

House sparrows are a familiar sight in our gardens and we can help them cope in the modern world by building a sparrow box. You can buy a ready- made nestbox or have a go at making one using the instructions supplied by the rspb.

Did you know That the record number of birds found in one box is 63 wrens! They are very small, but that's a lot of wrens.


The RSPB have some instructions how to build a bird box:

What you will need:

A plank of FSC wood 15cm x 1.4m long x 1.5-1.8cm thick and not pressure treated
Pencil and tape measure
Saw
Nails
Strip of waterproof rubber
Drill
Optional: a hole saw/cutter for making 3.2cm holes
Ladder
Screws
Camera or smart phone
Water based paint

Step-by-step guide:

Find the right bird-friendly spot for your box. Ideally, it will be under the eaves of your house or high on a wall, well away from curious cats or foxes! Make sure you get permission if you need it.

The box will need to be at least 3 metres (10 feet) from the ground, facing somewhere between north and east to avoid it getting too hot or wet. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight and don't put it over a doorway or well-used path.

Make sure you have the right wood. The thickness is important to insulate the box from cold and heat and to stop the box warping. You can use exterior-quality plywood (for a light box) or, for something more sturdy, hardwoods (such as oak and beech) or soft wood (such as pine, but this will deteriorate more quickly). Buy timber approved by the Forest Stewardship Council – look for the FSC logo.

Measure and cut your wood according to the diagram.

Note: the dimensions shown are for 15mm thick wood. If your wood is different to that, the dimensions of the Base should be 150mm by 150mm minus 2 x thickness of the wood, eg if the wood is 18mm thick, the base should be 150mm x 114mm.

If you don't have the hole saw/cutter for making the 3.2cm round hole, you can use a jigsaw (not the puzzle!) to cut a square or wedge-shaped hole at the top of the front, as in the diagram.

Remember: Adults should be in charge for all the steps involving sharp tools or nails!


Nail all the pieces, except the roof, together. The sides, back and front 'wrap around' the base.

Attach the roof. By using screws, you’ll be able to get into the box at a later stage to clean it out. Use a waterproof strip to make a hinge between the top edge of the roof and the backing board. Try a piece of bicycle tyre inner tube, damp-proof membrane or roofing felt.

Decorate your box. Now it's the fun part that you can all get stuck into! You should have a nice complete bird box now, so it's time to get out the paints and give it a personal touch. Think about pattern and colour and create something really unique. Remember to use non-toxic water-based paints though! There's a handy guide to painting nestboxes here. https://www.birdspot.co.uk/bird-boxes/painting-a-bird-box

Put your box up. Drill guide holes in the backing plate at the top and bottom of the box. Taking care, fix the box to a wall using a ladder, screws and Rawlplugs.

What to look for. Sparrows will start house-hunting in spring. There is never a guarantee of them using your box, but if you're lucky you should see the males proudly chirping from nearby, or even from the roof of the box. Sparrows are sensitive to disturbance at the nest and protected by law. So watch and enjoy from a distance. You may be lucky to see them raising several broods in there in a season. Maybe you'll even catch some chicks fledging!

Our gardens are much neater and tidier than they used to be depriving birds of natural holes to find a home.

The good news is that everyone can do their bit to help and your own garden is a great place to start.

Nick Baker, TV wildlife presenter says:
"Britain needs more holes!"
“Putting up nestboxes in your own garden is great fun, really easy and brilliant news for birds."


If you don't have time to make a nestbox or short on DIY skills then there are lots of cheap ready-made nestboxes on the market.

For more information go to:
https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/

https://www.nestboxweek.com/