If you want to show love for wildlife this Valentine's Day, what better way to do it than by installing a nest box for birds in your garden? Very fittingly, the National Nestbox Week, originally started by the British Trust for Ornithology, kicks off today, during one of the coldest weekends of the year so far.
If you want to learn how to attract birds to your garden or are looking for ways to make your garden more wildlife-friendly, a nest box is a must. And there's plenty of evidence that nest boxes are especially important now.
British birds are in decline. According to an official government report (opens in new tab), wild bird numbers have declined by 25 per cent since 1970, with both woodland and farmland species affected. Part of the reason for the decline is that birds have lost much of their native habitats to human farming, which increasingly encroaches on woodlands and hedges, while birds that traditionally have nested in farm buildings can no longer do so due to changes to farm building designs over the past few decades.
These are just a couple of the reasons why birds really need our help in providing them with spaces for nesting, plus adding them to our outdoor spaces is a great way to boost our wildlife garden ideas. According to the RSPB (opens in new tab), nest boxes are important year-round and 'not just used over the summer egg-laying season – many birds will use them on a cold winter’s night.'
RSPB Wildlife Advisor, Charlotte Ambrose said: 'During the warmer months birds feed on insects and seeds, but the cold weather means they move into our gardens to find refuge. You can make a real difference and improve their chances of survival, as well as being rewarded by great views of wildlife in your garden or outside space.'
Don't worry about building only one nest box, because it turns out that many nest boxes are enjoyed by multiple occupants, all huddling together for warmth. The record number of birds found in one box is 63 wrens!
You can find a great deal of information about nest boxes, including how to build them, where to position them, and how to adjust them to the needs of different species, on the Nest Box Week (opens in new tab) website. If you don't think you can participate, you may well have a neighbour or friend who will. Nicholas Watts, MBE at Vine House Farm (opens in new tab), commented: 'If you have a garden – even if it’s a very small one – then there’s always room for at least one nest box. And if you don’t have your own garden, then chances are a friend or relative will have, so why not see if they’ll let you put up a nest box in theirs?'
For more ways to keep garden birds happy, check out our guide on how to make bird feeders to keep them well fed over winter.
Anna is a keen urban gardener, with David Austin roses and Japanese acers among her favourite plants. She moved into the world of interiors from academic research in the field of literature and urban space a couple of years ago. She's always been interested in how people make houses into homes, and how our concepts of what's stylish change over time.
Ryobi 18V ONE+ 40cm Cordless Brushless lawn mower review: quiet and easy to handle
Garden Tools We tested the Ryobi 18V ONE+ 40cm Cordless Brushless lawn mower to find out if the mower that looks like a highlighter will turn out to be a garden highlight
By Steve Bradley • Published
How to cool down a pool: swim in comfort this summer with our tips
How To Learn how to cool down a pool and you can enjoy a refreshing dip no matter how hot it gets outdoors
By Holly Crossley • Published