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National Nest Box Week’s 20th Anniversary
9th February 2017
February 14th marks the start of the 20th annual National Nest Box Week (NNBW). Organised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), it aims to encourage everyone to put up nest boxes in their local area in order to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our breeding birds and wildlife. Anyone can take part, whether you’re a family with space for a box in your garden, a teacher, a member of a local wildlife group, or you belong to a bird club.
Putting up nest boxes during the week can provide a nesting site for our treasured garden birds, many of which are struggling after a very poor year in 2016. With total numbers of birds down by eleven percent, and the number of young they produced last year down by over a third, blue tits, in particular, are having a hard time. Providing safe and dry nest boxes can help by offering good quality, warm, dry and safe homes for growing families in the 2017 breeding season.
The BTO’s preliminary report on the 2016 breeding season shows that mean spring temperatures in 2016 were slightly below average in April and rising slightly above in May. Southern and eastern England experienced a wet early and late spring, whilst heavy rainfall in northern England and Scotland was limited to April. This means that during the critical period, when several of our garden bird species were nesting, temperatures were low and rainfall high, affecting the availability of the caterpillars and grubs they rely on to feed their chicks. The number of chicks produced by Blue Tits was down by 31%, and in great tits by 22%. Further wet weather in mid-summer meant that any birds that did fledge would have struggled more than normal to survive, leading to record low numbers in gardens by the start of this winter, as revealed by BTO Garden BirdWatch data.
Jeff Baker, of the BTO, said, “One of the limiting factors for breeding birds is available nest sites, and carefully placed nest boxes can provide the birds with exactly what they need. Putting up a box now will mean the birds have time to find them before the start of the breeding season. Whatever weather spring 2017 brings us, having a warm, dry and secure nest site can help Blue Tits and other familiar garden birds.”
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