A regular column by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s Rachel Shaw.
There’s a sure sign that spring is on the way – birds are singing in the garden.
A great tit calls with his loud disyllabic ‘teacher, teacher, teacher’; blue tits sing a high pitched trilling song and robins warble from strategic perches. These are the male birds, singing to stake claims to territories and show off to any females in the vicinity. They are also starting to look for suitable nesting sites. If you’ve thought about putting a nest box up in your garden but never got round to doing it, now is the time. Show your appreciation for some much-loved garden companions by giving them a place to set up home.
Natural nest sites for birds such as holes in trees or old buildings are disappearing fast as gardens are ‘tidied’ and old houses are repaired. Birds like blue tits, robins, and a whole range of other species
find ready-made nesting places very beneficial, and there is the added bonus that if a couple moves in you can witness their daily lives, from nesting through to the chicks fledging.
There are different sorts of nest boxes for different birds but they come in two main types: those with a small round hole and those with an open front. The boxes with the hole on the front will attract birds that like to nest in places like hollow trees, and the diameter of the hole is suitable for different species. The smaller blue tits and coal tits will use a box with a hole size of 25mm, larger great tits will use a box with a hole size of 32mm. The open-fronted boxes are for birds like robins and blackbirds that would typically build their nests hidden amongst the vegetation of a hedge.
There are plenty of nest boxes available to buy or you can make your own. There are instructions on making a variety of bird boxes on the National Bird Box Week website www.bto.org/about-birds/nnbw/make-a-nest-box
Don’t forget, young birds are fed literally thousands of insects (mostly caterpillars) while in the nest. So if you are encouraging a feathered family into your garden you really must remember that this goes hand in hand with gardening for insects too. Make sure your garden has flowers that attract insects such as bugle and primrose in spring and, in summer, buddleia, lavender, any daisy-like flowers as long as they aren’t double. Sunflowers are also good and later in the year birds will feed on the seeds. Going chemical free will also be hugely beneficial.