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Nest Box Week

National Nest Box Week is almost upon us, so it's time to think about, not only putting up a nest box but also cleaning out the ones you already have, if you haven't already done so. This annual event in many ways kicks off the ornithological year running, as it does every year, from 14 February.

NNBW's main aim is to encourage people to put up nest boxes in their gardens or other local areas, and although the objective is to put up boxes during this week, you can obviously put up boxes whenever you like. So with smaller birds pairing up in preparation to the breeding season, now is an excellent time to offer them some accommodation.

With natural nesting sites, such as holes in trees or old buildings, vanishing due to property refurbishment and tidy gardeners, the need for us to provide alternative nest sites has never been greater. Hopefully, the result of your efforts will be your contribution to bird conservation, and in doing so it will hopefully provide you with an opportunity to enjoy seeing the birds nesting close by.

So if you do have room to put up a nest box, and you have started looking around as to what’s on offer you could well be put off by the variety of boxes. Different materials, different configurations (open fronted or closed) and the different hole size to attract different species of birds. So if you do need help, this short video might be of use to you. But if at all possible put up more than one next box, that way you can provide more opportunities to a wider variety of birds. If you are concerned about putting up boxes in the correct position all of that information can be found on this webpage.

Although you can leave the ‘housework' to the birds, you will need to clean out the boxes at the end of the breeding season to ensure they are clean and are not harbouring parasites or diseases. So it's worth bearing this in mind when you site the boxes - you'll need to access them later. But when they are all set up, you just need to keep a discrete eye on them to see if any of the local birds are tempted to take up residence.

I put up a number of boxes over the last few years and have tried to cover all the bases by setting up a range of nest box styles and sizes. Since then a few have been successful, and I'm hoping that this year will see more in use. Last year the highlight was the successful fledging of a family of blue tits who took up residence in a sparrow terrace! Because the terrace was located high on the end wall of a building it provided plenty of opportunities to watch the goings-on.

So if you've enjoyed feeding the birds why not consider taking your conservation efforts on a stage further and put up a nest box this Valentines Day? And if you already have boxes in your garden, maybe you could consider putting up another or putting up one in a different location? Whatever you choose to do the birds will appreciate it, even if it does take them a little while to make use of them.