Twenty years of National Nest Box Week

No.:  February 2017 - 04
February 2017
Blue Tit by Liz Cutting/BTO

February 14 marks the start of the 20th annual National Nestbox Week, organised by British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Putting up nestboxes during the week can provide a nesting site for our treasured garden birds, many of which are struggling after a very poor year in 2016

With total numbers down by 11% and the number of young they produced last year down by over a third, Blue Tits, in particular, are having a hard time. Providing suitable nestboxes can help by offering good quality, safe homes for growing families in the 2017 breeding season.

The BTO’s preliminary report on the 2016 breeding season shows that mean spring temperatures in 2016 were slightly below average in April and rising slightly above in May. Southern and eastern England experienced a wet early and late spring, whilst heavy rainfall in northern England and Scotland was limited to April. This means that during the critical period, when several of our garden bird species were nesting, temperatures were low and rainfall high, affecting the availability of the caterpillars and grubs they rely on to feed their chicks. The number of chicks produced by Blue Tits was down by 31%, and in Great Tits by 22%. Further wet weather in mid-summer meant that any birds that did fledge would have struggled more than normal to survive, leading to record low numbers in gardens by the start of this winter, as revealed by BTO Garden BirdWatch data.

Jeff Baker, of the BTO said: 

“One of the limiting factors for breeding birds is available nest sites, and carefully placed nest boxes can provide the birds with exactly what they need. Putting up a box now will mean the birds have time to find them before the start of the breeding season. Whatever weather spring 2017 brings us, having a warm, dry and secure nest site can help Blue Tits and other familiar garden birds.”

For more information on nest boxes for Blue Tits and nest boxes in general, please visit www.bto.org/nnbw.

Contact Details

Paul Stancliffe
(BTO Press Officer)
Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5:00pm)
Mobile: 07585440910 anytime
Email: press [at] bto.org ()

Images are available for use alongside this News Release. Please contact images [at] bto.org quoting reference February 2017 - 04.

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

Notes to editors

  1. National Nest Box Week takes place each year from 14-21 February, and after more than 15 years it is now an established part of the ornithological calendar. NNBW aims to encourage everyone to put up nest boxes in their local area in order to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our breeding birds and wildlife. Anyone can take part whether you’re a family with space for a box in your garden, a teacher, a member of a local wildlife group, or you belong to a bird club. 

    NNBW would not be possible without the support from Jacobi Jayne & Co., Britain’s nest box specialists, who created the idea together with the late Chris Mead of the BTO. 
  2. The BTO is the UK’s leading bird research organisation. Over 30,000 birdwatchers contribute to the BTO’s surveys. They collect information that forms the basis of 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 project work. The BTO’s investigations are funded by government, industry and conservation organisations. www.bto.org
  3. The preliminary report on the 2016 breeding season can be found here
  4. Garden BirdWatch survey is carried out by volunteer birdwatchers throughout the UK and has been going since 1994. The survey captures weekly data on birds and other wildlife throughout the year.  More information can be found at: www.bto.org/gbw
  5. Garden BirdWatch results are available online and can be found at: www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/gbw/results/annual-patterns-garden-use