Britain needs more nestboxes


As part of National Nest Box Week 2019, which kicks off on Thursday 14 February, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is calling for homeowners to put up more nestboxes for declining garden birds.

The simple act of putting up a nestbox can make a real difference for our birds, providing them with the space they need to raise a family. A growing proportion of the global human population now lives in towns and cities, with the United Nations predicting that two-thirds of humans will live within such urbanised landscapes by 2050. Urbanisation is considered to be one of the greatest threats facing bird populations, resulting in the loss of natural habitats and the feeding and nesting opportunities associated with them. 

Newly urbanised landscapes often lack the mature trees that provide nesting cavities for small birds, such as Blue Tit and Great Tit, while other cavity-nesting species – such as Common Starling, Common Swift and House Sparrow – have seen changes in building regulations reducing nesting opportunities that once existed under the roof tiles of our houses. The loss of such sites may have played an important role in the significant declines seen in the breeding populations of these species since the early 1990s (Starling by 74 per cent, House Sparrow by 35 per cent and Common Swift by 51 per cent).

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Putting up nestboxes can benefit a wide range of species, including Blue Tit (Daniel Schwen / commons.wikimedia.org).

To support homeowners in providing more nestboxes, the the BTO has produced a new 'essential guide', full of useful information on i) what to look for when buying a nest box, ii) box placement and iii) looking after a box longer term. The free guide is available from gbw@bto.org or by calling the BTO's Garden Ecology Team on 01842 750050.

Rob Jaques, part of the BTO's Garden Ecology Team, commented: "Home-owners can provide new nesting opportunities for birds by putting up suitable nest boxes and now is the ideal time to do this. You can either purchase a nestbox or build your own, and there is plenty of information in our free guide, from cutting plans through to information on where to place nestboxes."

You can find out more about National Nest Box Week at www.bto.org/nnbw.