A Guide to Bird & Bat Boxes
The decline in wildlife in the UK, as in many other parts of the world, is a concerning issue. Factors such as changes in agricultural practices, urban expansion, and alterations in building designs, have all contributed to the decline in various species. Amenity Choice is offering solutions to address some of these challenges for specific species like birds and bats.
Many bird species have been affected by habitat loss and changes in their environment. Providing nesting boxes and habitats for species like Swifts, Starlings, Sparrows, Robins, Wrens, and Redstarts can be a valuable contribution to their conservation.
Bats play a crucial role in pest control and pollination, and their populations have been impacted by changes in habitat and the use of pesticides. Solutions for bats could include providing bat boxes or maintaining existing roosting sites and promoting suitable foraging habitats.
Where to put bird boxes
Placing bird boxes in the right location is essential to attract and provide suitable nesting sites for birds. Here are some general tips on where to put bird boxes:
Height: Most bird boxes should be placed at a height of around 6 to 15 feet above the ground. This height range is suitable for various bird species and helps protect the nest from predators.
Orientation: Bird boxes should generally face away from prevailing wind and rain. In the UK, this often means facing them towards the southeast, so they receive morning sun but are protected from harsh afternoon sun and rain. However, the specific orientation may vary depending on your local climate and prevailing conditions.
Proximity to cover: Birds prefer nest boxes that are near natural cover, like trees or shrubs, which provide protection from predators and harsh weather. Ensure there are nearby perches for birds to land on before entering the box.
Distance between boxes: If you plan to install multiple bird boxes, make sure they are placed at least 20-30 feet apart to reduce competition between bird pairs.
Privacy: Place bird boxes in quiet and relatively undisturbed areas. Birds prefer privacy when nesting, so avoid high-traffic areas in your garden.
Sunlight: While you want to avoid excessive heat, some morning sun is beneficial to help warm the nest. Avoid placing boxes in areas that receive direct, scorching afternoon sun.
Safety from predators: Ensure the bird boxes are secure from predators like cats and squirrels. You can add predator guards or baffles to prevent unwanted visitors.
Easy access for maintenance: Bird boxes should be accessible for periodic cleaning and maintenance. Consider how you will safely reach and maintain the boxes when placing them.
Proper height for the species: Different bird species have specific preferences for the height of their nest boxes. Research the particular species you want to attract to determine the appropriate height.
Local regulations: Some local regulations or conservation guidelines may dictate where and how you can place bird boxes. It's important to be aware of and follow any such regulations.
Remember that different bird species have varying preferences for nest box locations, so it's a good idea to research the specific birds you wish to attract to your garden.
Which birds in the UK are using nesting boxes
In the UK, various bird species use nesting boxes for shelter and breeding. Some of the common bird species that readily use nesting boxes include Blue Tits, Great Tits, House Sparrows, Robins, Starlings, Wrens, Nuthatches, Pied Flycatchers, Tree Sparrows, Swifts, Redstarts and House Martins.
It's essential to select or design the right type of nest box for the specific species you want to attract. Different species have varying preferences for box size, entrance hole size, and location. Additionally, providing suitable habitat, food sources, and water can further encourage these birds to make use of your nesting boxes.
How to encourage birds to nest in a bird box
Encouraging birds to nest in a bird box requires creating a suitable and attractive environment for them. Here are some tips to help you increase the likelihood of birds choosing your bird boxes for nesting:
Choose the right bird box: Different bird species have specific preferences for nest box designs. Research the birds you want to attract and select or build bird boxes that meet their requirements in terms of size, shape, and entrance hole diameter.
Proper placement: Position the bird box in a suitable location, taking into account factors like height, orientation, and proximity to natural cover.
Timing: Put up your bird boxes well in advance of the breeding season, ideally in late winter or early spring. This gives birds time to discover and inspect the boxes before they start nesting.
Maintenance: Ensure the bird boxes are clean and well-maintained. Old nesting materials and debris from previous seasons should be removed. This provides a clean and inviting space for new occupants.
Predator protection: Use predator guards or baffles to prevent cats, squirrels, and other potential threats from accessing the nest box.
Food and water sources: Birds are more likely to nest in an area with a readily available supply of food and water. Install bird feeders and bird baths nearby to attract birds to the area.
Native plants: Plant native trees, shrubs, and flowers in your garden. These provide natural food sources and shelter for birds and can make your property more attractive to them.
No chemicals: Avoid using pesticides and herbicides in your garden, as they can harm insects and other invertebrates that many birds rely on for food.
Birdsong: Playing recorded bird songs can attract birds to the area. Hearing the songs of other birds can signal to potential nesters that your garden is a safe and suitable location.
Patience: Be patient. It may take some time for birds to discover and accept your bird boxes. Don't be discouraged if they don't use them immediately.
Observe from a distance: Once birds have chosen your bird boxes for nesting, maintain a respectful distance to avoid disturbing them during the nesting and incubation period.
Provide nesting materials: Some birds, like House Sparrows, may appreciate additional nesting materials such as twigs, grass, or feathers placed near the bird box.
Remember that attracting birds to nest in bird boxes may take some time, as birds need to feel safe and comfortable in their chosen location. Creating an inviting and bird-friendly environment in your garden or property will increase the chances of birds choosing your nest boxes as their nesting sites.
Do birds use bird boxes all year round?
Birds typically use bird boxes primarily during the breeding season, which varies depending on the species and geographic location. The breeding season for many birds in the Northern Hemisphere generally occurs in spring and summer. During this time, birds seek out suitable nesting sites to lay eggs and raise their young.
What is a bat box?
A bat box, also known as a bat house or bat roost, is a specially designed structure or enclosure that is created to provide a suitable habitat for bats. These boxes are intended to mimic natural roosting sites that bats use in the wild, such as tree hollows or crevices in buildings. The primary purpose of a bat box is to offer bats a safe and sheltered place to roost and raise their young.
Bat boxes are an important conservation tool, especially in areas where natural roosting sites for bats are limited or have been disrupted. Bats play a crucial role in pest control and pollination, making them valuable contributors to the ecosystem. By providing bat boxes, you can help support local bat populations and contribute to their conservation efforts while enjoying the benefits of having bats as natural pest controllers in your area.
How do bat boxes work?
Providing shelter: Bat boxes offer bats a sheltered place to roost during the day and at night. Bats are nocturnal animals, so they require a safe and secluded location to rest during the daylight hours.
Mimicking natural roosts: Bat boxes are designed to replicate the features of natural roosting sites. The interior surfaces of bat boxes are typically rough or grooved, allowing bats to cling and hang on while roosting. This mimics the uneven surfaces found in tree bark or cave walls where bats typically roost.
Temperature regulation: Bat boxes are designed to regulate temperature and humidity. They are often painted black or a dark colour to absorb and retain heat, creating a warm environment for the bats. This is important because bats are warm-blooded and need a stable temperature to thrive.
Entry and exit: Bat boxes have narrow entrance slots at the bottom that allow bats to enter and exit easily. These slots are designed to deter predators and discourage unwanted guests.
Multiple chambers: Some bat boxes have multiple chambers or crevices to accommodate different types of bats and their roosting preferences. Different bat species have specific requirements for roosting space.
Protection: Bat boxes may include features like predator guards to prevent access by animals such as raccoons or owls. This ensures that the bats are safe from potential threats.
Maintenance: Regular maintenance of bat boxes is important to keep them clean and functional. Cleaning out old nesting material and making repairs as needed helps ensure that the boxes remain attractive to bats.
Attracting bats: Attracting bats to use a bat box may take some time. Placing the box in the right location, providing suitable conditions, and offering a secure roosting site are key factors in attracting bats to the box.
Which bird or bat box should I choose?
Take a look at some of the leading bird and bat boxes on the market here.