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The siting and management of nest boxes

 

Siting

Nest boxes can be fixed to walls, trees or buildings. If the site is exposed, it is advisable to position them so the opening is not exposed to full sun or the wettest weather.

 

Choose a spot between 10 and 15 feet above ground level, where there is easy flight access to the box opening.

 

To get the most pleasure out of your nest box(es), site them where they can be seen from the house and where you can gain easy ladder access, for inspection and cleaning.

 

Above all, make certain that they cannot be reached by any marauding cats.

 

If you can site them near your boundary, you stand a good chance of attracting birds from some distance away.

 

When fixing a nest box, try to position it at a slight angle, so that rain is directed away from the entrance hole.

 

Management

 

It is advisable to clean out nest boxes during October or November.

 

Any fleas or other parasites that have built up over the breeding season, should be killed off with boiling water and any unhatched eggs should be removed.

 

Once the box is clean and dry, remember to add a little hay or wood shavings, to encourage the birds to use it for a winter roost, which may well reserve the box for the next breeding season.

 

During the breeding season, it is very tempting to open the box to see what is happening. This should only be done with great caution, when the birds are away from the box, since your presence may well cause the birds to desert the nest.

 

If you tap lightly on the side of the box, any birds inside will probably fly away for a short while and may not be as startled as they would be, by you opening the box.

 

Never inspect the nest when it contains any young, as this will almost certainly cause the parents to desert the nest, with disastrous results for the young nestlings.

 

The soundest advice is quite simply NOT to inspect the boxes at all, during the breeding season.

 

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Contrary to popular belief there is no ‘best’ time to put up bird nest boxes.Birds will quickly become familiar with boxes erected during the latter part of the year and may well use them for winter roosts, especially if they already contain a little hay or wood shavings.

 

Boxes erected before the end of February stand the best chance of being used that season, but it is not unusual for Tits to take over boxes as late as April, if there is a shortage of natural sites.

 

House Martins may well use boxes erected in July, halfway through the breeding season.The important thing is to site the box correctly and in a position where the birds will be safe from potential predators.