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Tips & Advice : Nestboxes & habitat boxes
Nest boxes are the ideal way to encourage birds to nest and rear their young in your garden, bringing with them hours of enjoyment and pleasure as you watch them at every stage of their development.
If your garden is well established and has adequate mature trees, bushes and vegetation the birds may have sufficient places to build their nests without your help.
However not every garden meets that criteria, so nest boxes are an excellent substitute for holes in trees or established bushes allowing the birds to nest and rear their young close at hand and near to the regular food source you have on offer for them.
But even more importantly lets you share in this experience!
Dependant on the type of boxes used, where its located and its general surroundings the variety of bird species you can get nesting in your garden is vast.
Over 60 species have been known to use nestboxes. Regular visitors include blue tits, great tits, coal tits, house & tree sparrows, nuthatches, robins, house martins, owls and even kestrels.
Multispecies nestboxes come with the option to choose which species you want to encourage, the size of the box entrance and the positioning of the box are key the key influences.
See below a guide to the nestbox entrance hole size required to attract various species:-
Nest box hole size. Birds that will use this box.
25mm/28mm Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Great Tit
32mm Nuthatch, Tree Sparrow, House Sparrow
45mm Starling, Blackbird
open fronted box Robin, Pied Wagtail, Song Thrush, Grey Wagtail, Wren
Putting up boxes with different size holes will cater for a variety of species. To help all species especially the ones in decline its important to cater for a wide variety. Do not have a perch on the front of a nestbox as this will encourage praditors & intruders remember birds do not need to perch before entering their nestbox.
Insects can be known to take over a box in particular after the birds have finished nesting, so why not site an insect habitat house in your garden to give them a place to shelter or set up home. Cleaning the nestbox thoroughly after nesting is complete may help prevent it being taken over by insects, but is essential to reduce the risk of infection in readiness for the new nesting season.
Siting A Nestbox
The position of the nestbox should depend on which species the box is intended for.They can be sited on walls, in trees or under the eaves dependant on the different species.
It is best to position the nestboxes in Autumn as birds will enter the boxes during autumn & winter in search for a suitable place to roost or feed, while getting accustomed to the location in readiness for nesting in the spring.
It is advisable to face the nestbox between north and east, so that during the hottest part of the day it is protected from the strong midday sunlight and offers some protection from the wind.
The nestbox should be positioned giving the birds a clear flight path to the front entrance and the box should be tilted forward slightly to protect from driving rain and allow the rain to bounce or run off the roof free from the body of the box.
The most suitable positioning of nest boxes varies dependant on the bird - but as you would expect this isn't set in stone and the birds will decide for themselves whether they are happy and comfortable with the nestbox site.
Nestboxes for tits, sparrows or starling should be fixed between 2 & 4 metres from the ground on a tree, wall or suitable fence/post.
House sparrows & starlings will readily use nestboxes placed high up under the eaves of the house, and as they nest in colonies two or three boxes can be sited in the same side of the house. Keep clear of anywhere that house martins normally nest.
Open fronted boxes for robins & wrens should be placed low down, below 2 metres but well hidden in vegetation for best success.
Hedgehogs are regular visitors to most established garden even if you don't spot them the chances are they visit under cover of night.
Hedgehogs hibernate for the winter and therefore start collecting leaves, grass, straw & bracken in the autumn in order to use these materials to build their nest, under hedgerows, brushwood, fallen branches and logs.
Most gardens have suitable nest sites - under sheds, compost heaps, under log stores or piles of decaying leaves that have been left in hedges. However as some of these sites are likely to get disturbed during winter you can provide your resident hedgehog with its very own purpose built house by siting a more permanent structure - like this hedgehog home.
The house should be under no circumstances creosoted or treated as the fumes linger and can be extremely harmful. Just having felt on the roof can help protect the house from the elements and the hedgehogs will ensure the inside is made cosy and warm to protect themselves from the winter weather.
The house should be placed in a quiet part of the garden with its back to a wall, fence, bank or other suitable shelter. Avoid facing the house entrance to the north/north east to help protect it from the the cold winter winds.
Why not site a wildlife surveillance camera close to the hedgehog house in early spring and watch out for the end of hibernation or the start of the breeding season.
Butterfly Habitat Feeder
To attract butterflies to your garden, as well as planting and growing an array of different flowering plants why not site this butterfly habitat which offers a safe over wintering habitat and an interactive feed station for butterflies.
Observe and enjoy watching attractive butterflies that are encouraged to the butterfly habitat feeder to feed, roost and to hibernate.
By offering a feeding station it will help encourage butterflies to your garden, that otherwise might not have normally attracted by the plants and flowers in your garden also helping preserve some of the more at risk species.
Bug Habitat Box
Why not site a general insect habitat box in your garden and observe the activity of a variety of different insects in your garden.
Attracting a variety of insects to your garden can help with pollination of your plants & shrubs increasing the fruit yield and also attract a wider variety of bird species.
It can offer excellent insulation and over wintering for insects such ladybirds and lacewings helping protect the species.