Help monitor garden nests during lockdown


As many people are largely stuck at home during lockdown, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) wants birders to find and monitor bird nests in their gardens to help find out how various species are faring this breeding season.

More scrutiny than normal on the birds in your garden may have already uncovered tits using a nestbox or a Blackbird carrying breeding material. If you do find a nest in your garden you can take part in Nesting Neighbours, a scheme organised by the BTO. 

Blue Tits will often nest in gardens (Martin Webb).

By collecting information on breeding success you'll help the BTO to understand the impacts of factors such as climate change and food availability on the number of young produced and the influence this then has on population trends. Participation is therefore valuable as well as rewarding.

By recording what is in the nest every five days or so, you can collect valuable information on laying dates, clutch and brood sizes and the number of breeding attempts that result in fledged young. Scientific studies have shown that, as long as observers are careful and follow the BTO's Code of Conduct, making several visits to a nest to record the contents does not increase the probability of it failing.

Hazel McCambridge, BTO Nesting Neighbours Organiser, said: "Monitoring the nests of familiar garden birds gives you an intimate insight into their lives, which is very rewarding. It also allows conservationists to understand how birds in built up areas fare compared to those nesting in woods and farmland; do the warmer temperatures in towns result in earlier laying, do parents benefit from the food we put out, and are the chicks less exposed to predators? 

"You can help to answer these questions and more by looking in your garden boxes, shrubs and hedges, and let us know what you find!" 

To take part, please visit www.bto.org/nesting-neighbours.