Putting up a nest box - one of the best things you can do for bird research

01 Feb 2014 | No. 2014-07

Once again Valentine’s Day will see the start of National Nest Box Week, now in its 17th year, the time of year when birds traditionally begin to pair up for the forthcoming breeding season.

Since 1997 the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has been encouraging people to put up nest boxes and help provide nesting opportunities for a variety of garden birds, including, Starlings, House Sparrows and Blue Tits. However, your participation doesn’t have to stop once the box is up.

The reasoning behind erecting a nest box may seem obvious, but there’s a lot more to it than just providing warmth and security for a single pair of birds, as the BTO’s Dave Leech explains. “Putting nest boxes up in your garden may increase the number of birds that are able to breed there, with obvious local benefits. By monitoring the contents, however, you can extend the reach of your actions far beyond your own backyard - data on the numbers of eggs and chicks produced each year help us to understand how birds across the UK are coping with a rapidly changing climate and radical changes to habitat, including the impacts of urbanisation. Volunteer nest recorders help us to predict who the winners and losers will be and, even more importantly, why; understanding the mechanisms underlying population declines is the vital first step towards addressing the problem.”

Monitoring nests for the BTO has never been easier, as Nest Box Challenge Organiser Hazel Evans explains. “Nest Box Challenge is an online system aimed at volunteers new to recording who are monitoring small numbers of nests in gardens. Any nest of any species can be monitored, including those nesting outside boxes, such as Blackbirds and Collared Doves, as long as you can look inside to count the eggs and chicks. The welfare of the birds must come first so it is vital to follow the Code of Conduct on the BTO website at all times.”

For more information on the different type of nest boxes, visit www.bto.org/about-birds/national-nest-box-week

Notes for Editors

  1. Over 20 species of bird have been recorded using nest boxes, from Blue Tit to Barn Owl. Information on the different types of nest boxes used can be found at http://www.bto.org/about-birds/national-nest-box-week  Recording what happens inside the box as part of Nest Box Challenge can help scientists at the BTO understand what is happening in the wider population. To take part in Nest Box Challenge, please visit http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/nbc
  2. Scientific studies have shown that it is perfectly possible to monitor nests without having any impact on the welfare of the birds or their offspring, but it is vital to adhere to the guidelines laid out in the NRS Code of Conduct http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/nrs/coc
  3. The BTO is the UK's leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to the BTO's surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Bangor (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. The BTO's work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations. www.bto.org

Contact Details

Dr Dave Leech
(Senior Research Ecologist)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: dave.leech [at] bto.org

Hazel Evans
(Nest Box Challenge Organiser)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: hazel.evans [at] bto.org

Paul Stancliffe
(BTO Media Manager)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Mobile: 07585 440910 (anytime)
Email: press [at] bto.org

Images are available for use alongside this News Release.
Please contact images [at] bto.org quoting reference 2014-07

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews.
Please contact us to book an interview
Office: 01842 750050

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