11/02/2016
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Britain needs nest boxes

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In the run-up to National Nest Box Week 2016 from 14–21 February, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is encouraging the public to put up new bird boxes.

Many of Britain's birds will struggle to find a suitable nesting site for the breeding season. The 19th National Nest Box Week (NNBW) starts on Valentine's Day, and aims to inspire people to put up a nestbox in their local area.

The week-long event is organised by the BTO and sponsored by Jacobi Jayne, a British bird feeder and nestbox supplier. People are also encouraged to sign up for Nest Box Challenge (NBC) to report what happens in their box once it is occupied.

Potential nesting sites are disappearing as old buildings are renovated, woodland habitat is lost and tidy gardens lose suitable tree holes. Anyone can help provide more space by putting up a nestbox.

Different types of nestboxes can provide homes for different types of bird. House Sparrows need a small-hole type nestbox with a 32 mm entrance hole. Robins will use open-fronted nestboxes, preferably tucked away in a bit of cover. You can even provide nesting space for House Martins by fixing an artificial nesting cup just below the eaves.

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A lack of suitable nesting sites may have contributed to the decline of Starling (Photo: hedera.baltica/wiki commons)

Your nestbox can provide valuable data to scientists monitoring British bird populations. NBC, which is free to join, involves regularly looking in your box and using an online form to report any eggs or chicks inside. Data on how well birds are breeding in our changing climate is vitally important and will be used to direct conservation efforts.

Jonathan Warrin of the BTO said: "Anyone can find a space for a bird box, whether you have a garden or want to get permission to put up a box in your local park. Seeing birds raising chicks in the box is a great way for people, young and old, to connect with nature. Don't leave birds out in the cold, get involved with National Nest Box Week."

Hazel Evans, NBC Organiser at the BTO, said: "Nestboxes give us the opportunity to easily collect data on the breeding success of cavity nesting birds which can be difficult to collect from natural nest sites. We need people with nestboxes to tell us what is happening in those boxes during the breeding season." For more information, please visit www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/nbc.

Written by: BTO