Get boxing!

Willow warbler © Margaret Holland

What are birds up to at this time of year, and how can we help?

Whilst many birds are busy just surviving the cold at this time of year, increasing day length can trigger others into breeding activity. Some resident species may already be prospecting, setting up territories, or building nests, and early breeders like ravens may even be laying eggs. On calm February days, you might hear a woodpecker‘s first staccato drum-burst reverberate from a hollow tree-limb, or a mistle thrush sending out its sad, melodious song from the still leafless top branches. The Birdwatch Day at Spinnies Aberogwen nature reserve on February 23rd is a chance to look for these signs of spring, amidst the snowdrops (if not snowflakes!), and the wealth of wintering birds on the estuary.

Ahead of the breeding season proper, we can also help many species of bird by providing nest boxes that replicate sites lost through various human activities. Woodland birds like tits and flycatchers would have depended on a variety of older trees with plenty of natural holes, whereas barn owls traditionally use derelict or open access outbuildings, and swifts seek out cavities under eaves – many of which have decreased in recent times. Now is the perfect time to try and help, as birds pair up and look for a home, and National Nest Box Week (14 – 22nd Feb) provides a focus on the options.

You can get involved by making or buying your own box, and putting it up in a suitable location:

Download an activity sheet to make your own tit nest box here