At Wildacres We Are For The Birds!….Are you?

 

Putting Up Nestboxes for the Birds

We are well into 2023 and what about a small project to bring you endless hours of joy and help our poor wildlife?

 

Blue Tit on Nest Box

Blue Tit at entrance to nest box

 

It can be all too daunting and even confusing for us all when we see depressing headline after headline in relation to Climate change and Biodiversity loss. Headlines such as:

” ‘Nature is dying’ – Ireland’s biodiversity emergency” – RTE

or

“World Wildlife plummets 68% in 50 years” – Living Planet Index.

What can be done?

How can I make a difference?

The answer for individuals who feel often overwhelmed and helpless in the face of such depressing headlines is simple.

Resolve to help biodiversity by managing your outdoor spaces in a wildlife friendly manner as well as demanding of our elected representatives, that they act and treat this biodiversity emergency as the crisis that it is.

Look at your immediate surroundings. Your gardens, patios, balconies, work surroundings and community spaces, and resolve to do what you can. You can make a real difference by acting in your immediate area that surrounds you in your day-to-day life.

 

How to attract birds to your outdoor space

Starlings on Nestbox at Wildacres

 

The feeling of satisfaction to be had from knowing you are helping wildlife recover and doing your bit to help reverse climate change is incredible. The joy of seeing nature up close and wildlife arrive and establish in these outdoor spaces around you is wonderful, even you could say priceless!

We will list some positive actions here over the coming months throughout 2023 that will make a real difference in relation to biodiversity loss and climate change. We believe some, or all these actions are possible for most people to take on.
Go on…. try some, or even all of them. You will be rewarded many times over.

 

PUT UP NEST BOXES

Late winter is a great time to put up nest boxes in preparation for the spring and summer nesting season.
Birds will be soon, and some even are already, checking out potential nest sites and a great way to keep them in your garden during Spring and Summer, is putting up suitable nest boxes.

Selection of Nestboxes at Wildacres ready to be put up

 

With the destruction of wildlife habitats, birds are becoming more and more reliant on measures taken by us to help them. Measures such as feeding them during the lean winter months or other actions such as putting up nest boxes.

Putting up nest boxes is a great way to help them for lots of reasons. Such as the shortage of suitable secure nesting sites due to old trees being cut down, wild areas being cleared for agriculture or development and renovation of old houses sealing up existing cavities and holes, previously used as nesting sites.

 

Another threat they face now is that they are increasingly being predated upon, by non-native animals.

Animals we have introduced into our natural environment such as domestic cats hunting in gardens and hedgerows or the introduced invasive grey squirrel eating chicks or eggs from nests.

So, as you can see, they need all the help they can get.

Greattit_in_nestbox

Great Tit peeping out of Nestbox

Where to get Nest boxes?

Well, a great place to buy them from is the wonderful registered charity and conservation organization Birdwatch Ireland.
They have an excellent online shopping facility here and monies raised go towards various important conservation projects nationally. They also stock a range of other items relating to bird feeding and bird watching.
There are a range of nest boxes available and putting up some of the different types will increase the chance of attracting different species to your garden. Some birds will prefer open fronted nest boxes and some enclosed with a small entrance hole (as above photo).
Birds preferring the enclosed Nest boxes with the entrance hole are as follows:

Starling 45mm
House Sparrow 32mm
Great Tit 28mm
Blue Tit 25mm
Coal Tt 25mm
Wren 25mm

Birds preferring the partially open fronted Nest boxes with an open entrance, approximately 60mm in size, are as follows

Robin
Pied Wagtail

Blackbirds can sometimes also be tempted to nest in boxes that are fully open fronted.

There are other nest boxes you can put up that are more specialized, such as ones for our Great Spotted Woodpecker (Yes we have these beautiful birds here now as part of our native wildlife, recently arrived, see more about them here  )

Woodpecker_Nestbox

Woodpecker Nestbox at Wildacres

Or Swallow nesting cups, Tree creeper nest boxes. and Swift nest boxes.

 

Treecreeper Nestbox at Wildacres

 

So, if you have sighted any of these previously or if you think your local outdoor space might be an attractive habitat for them why not try putting them up.

Ideally all nest boxes should be sited above 2 meters from ground level.

We have found at Wildacres the 32mm hole entrance enclosed nest box is a good all-around option for the smaller birds that will nest in boxes. This is because it will attract also the birds preferring the smaller 25mm hole entrance.

Do not site nest boxes too close to bird feeders as this makes it difficult for the nesting birds to defend their territory.

Also position them preferably with some natural shade, facing between north and east so as not to get full exposure to winds, and full sun which could cause overheating. The nest boxes should also be ideally tilted slightly forward when affixed. This will allow rain to easily run off and any rain that enters the box drain away.

They can be affixed to trees with nylon cable ties or wire housed partly in a section of hose pipe to protect against damaging the tree. They do not have to be sited solely on trees but can go up on any sturdy structure that will withstand the winds and not be easily accessible by cats or other predators.

Neighbourhood cats can be a real problem especially for young birds just after they have fledged and left the nest and are not aware of threats. Cats are highly efficient hunters, as can be seen by the birds and other small wildlife they will often return with to the doorstep of their home.

Fledgling Blue tit in nestbox at Wildacres

If you have a neighbour who has a cat you might politely request if they could keep them in for the hour before dawn and dusk especially, and preferably overnight, as this is the time they impact significantly on bird and other small wildlife. The use of a small bell or two on their collars that are sold for this purpose in pet stores can help in warning birds of their approach.

Don’t despair if your new nest-box is not occupied straight away. Sometimes it can take a couple of seasons for birds to start using them, but often they do occupy them in the first year if they are put up early enough – ideally January but even February. If they do move into their new lodgings, during the nesting period it is essential that the birds are never disturbed, as if so, they will often abandon the nest.

So best of luck and enjoy that wonderful sight and process to be witnessed of the birds checking out the nest box. Then after taking up residence, the fascinating daily spectacle of the parents coming and going with food every few minutes to feed those little hungry chicks

And finally, if you are lucky enough to be there at the right time, the sight of the little chicks eventually fledging and leaving the nest. Often, they will stay close by for a period in a bush or tree where you can watch the beautiful sight of the parents feeding them before they finally depart to find and setup a territory of their own.

Amongst the many types of nest boxes put up at Wildacres, we have installed some large ones for Barn Owl’s and we live in hope of one day, having a new tenant taking up residence!

As the saying goes… Build it and they will come…

So go on, give it a try, get a few nest boxes up and prepare to be entertained, fascinated and thrilled when your new tenants arrive.

BarnOwl_nestbox_Wildacres

Barn Owl Nestbox at Wildacres

 

 

Putting Up Barn Owl Nest Box at Wildacres