Invest in a love nest

Tuesday 2nd February 2016

7 day-old great tits (c) Becky Bradshaw King7 day-old great tits (c) Becky Bradshaw King

Trees are blooming, birds are singing and love is in the air.

As well as encouraging people to put up nest boxes for birds in their own gardens, Worcestershire Wildlife Trust has nest boxes available to rent on a number of nature reserves. These virtual gifts show just how much love-struck humans care for both the recipient and our woodland birds on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.

Becky Bradshaw-King, co-ordinator of the Trust’s rent-a-nest scheme, explained “National Nest Box Week always starts on Valentine’s Day for a good reason – it’s the time of year when birds start to think of settling down for spring and raising their young.

“With this winter being so mild (so far), we’re already hearing birds singing their spring songs and we’ve even had records of birds sitting on eggs. So it’s really important that people think about putting up a nest box if they can – or help out our woodland birds by renting a nest on one of four of our nature reserves.”

Putting up a nest box

From building renovations, loss of woodlands and tidying of gardens and green spaces, many potential nesting sites for birds have disappeared. Most people have space to put up a bird box – on the side of house, on the garden shed or even on a tall garden fence.

Whilst bird boxes shouldn’t be erected in direct sunlight, different birds will settle into different boxes. Robins, for example, will nest in open-fronted nest boxes whereas blue tits or house sparrows need a box with a small hole (max 32mm). Starlings, whose numbers have plummeted in recent years, require a hole of 45mm.

Becky Bradshaw King with nest boxThe rent-a-nest scheme funds next boxes on four Worcestershire Wildlife Trust woodlands – Knowles Coppice (Bewdley), Lower Smite Farm (Worcester/Droitwich Spa), Tiddesley Wood (Pershore) or The Knapp and Papermill (Alfrick Pound). The nest boxes cover a range of sizes to appeal to a wide variety of bird species.

Becky continued “Renting a nest on a nature reserve is a perfect present to demonstrate how much you care for a loved one as well as our wildlife. Whilst our woodlands already have natural holes for birds to nest in, the boxes offer additional opportunities, increasing the chances of birds breeding successfully.

“Our boxes are rented on an annual basis for just £10 but for an extra £5, the recipient will be invited to an event in spring to view their nest box and its occupants. They’ll also receive a report to say who’s rested in their love-nest.

“With several species of bird facing significantly declining numbers, our scheme is not only necessary but really popular.”

Local wardens monitor the boxes so the Trust knows what species use each one and how many young have been raised. This monitoring also provides great information about the lifestyle of the birds, which can help the Trust’s management of nature reserves.

The rent-a-nest scheme is an important fundraiser to ensure the Trust can continue to protect and improve wildlife and habitats across the county.

Rent-a-nest ‘leases’ can be purchased via our online shop,  in person from Lower Smite Farm or over the phone on 01905 754919.

Nest box do’s:

  • Boxes should be more than 2.5m from the ground (and not easily accessible to predators such as cats or squirrels)
  • Consider fixing a metal plate around the hole to deter squirrels from gaining access
  • Open-fronted nest boxes should be erected on a wall or fence amongst shrubs or creepers
  • Be patient – it can take a year or two before boxes are occupied

Nest box don’ts:

  • Don’t site nest boxes too close to each other as it may encourage aggression between neighbours
  • Don’t site nest boxes in direct sunlight or facing the prevailing wind/rain
  • Avoid siting nest boxes in the feeding area as activity levels could disturb nesting pairs

Tagged with: Fundraising, Wildlife gardening, Rent-a-nest