If you’re planning to put up a nest box in time for the bird breeding season, the RSPB has a message for you: please keep it simple. A basic wooden box is a much better bet than some of the novelty boxes currently on the market; the RSPB has spotted caravans, farmhouses, eggs and windmills among the designs on offer, but many have features which could pose a danger to baby birds. Ceramic boxes, for instance, can be poorly insulated, boxes with metal roofs can get dangerously hot, and bright colours make a box conspicuous to predators.
RSPB Wildlife Advisor Ben Andrew says, “Rather than choosing unusual designs and materials, people should stick to traditional, wooden nest boxes; they really are the best and often the most cost-effective. It’s also really important to make sure boxes are sited in the correct place. This depends on the species the box is intended for but there’s lots of information on our website. People tend to forget that a nest box will eventually contain tiny, helpless, vulnerable baby birds so the appearance of the box should be the last thing on your mind.”
There’s a step-by-step guide to making your own nest box and lots more advice at https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/makeahomeforwildlife – and if woodwork’s not your thing, a variety of tried and tested boxes, including a new sparrow terrace nest box, are available at http://shopping.rspb.org.uk/Enjoy more Kitchen Garden reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.