February half term: Nature explorers – bird box making
Bird boxes are used by many British birds as safe places to breed and raise their chicks. We have 70 boxes here at Brimham alone for just this purpose. Join us for the first of 2020’s Nature explorer sessions to make your own bird box to take home and find out about Brimham’s birds and how we help in their conservation.
With spring just around the corner, many bird species begin to prepare for the breeding season. Choosing the best place to build a nest to raise young in one of the first steps. With many natural habitats in recent years changing, more and more birds are choosing to nest in a bird box. Birds, like us, can be very fussy about where they nest. So bird boxes can vary hugely in many ways to cater for different species. This can be in size and the entrance.
To give a helping hand to birds or to encourage them into your garden, you can build your own bird box to take home in one of 4 workshops taking place at Brimham Rocks on Sunday 23 February. Each workshop lasts approximately 1 hour and your bird box, which costs £5 to build, will be suitable for a range of small garden birds. We’re expecting demand to be high so pre-booking your place is essential. Click on the button below to find out more about the workshops including how to book your place.
Where to put your nest box
It’s important to say that even though you will have a bird box in your garden, it doesn’t guarantee that birds will choose to build a nest in it. So you need to make it as tempting as possible for visiting birds. One way to do this is to make sure you put it in the right place in your garden.
The first thing to think about is to make sure your box is high enough from the ground to ensure that predators such as cats, as well as nosy people, can’t easily reach it. A location with natural shelter is great, but if this isn’t an option in your garden choose a place that faces south-east or north to avoid strong sunlight or heavy rain.
Next, think about other birds nesting nearby. If you already have other nest boxes up in your garden or close by, including neighbouring gardens, think about where you place your new box in relation to them. This can affect which species are attracted to your garden as some birds are very territorial, such as blue tits. It’s also best to locate your box away from bird tables and feeding areas as other birds may disturb the nesting birds and prevent breeding.
Once you have decided on your location, think about how you’re going to fix it in place. Nails can be used to attach your box to a tree. Alternatively, rope or wire can be wrapped around the box and trunk as well, although if using wire, place something under the wire to protect the tree trunk. Try to tilt the box slightly forwards to ensure that the roof of the box deflects rain from getting inside.
Cleaning your nest box
After the breeding season is over and you’re sure that all the nesting birds have left, it’s a good idea to take down your box to clean it out. October or November is usually a good time for this. Take out all the old nesting material then wash and scald it out with boiling water to kill off any parasites. Using water only is best.
If you discover any unhatched eggs in your box these can only be removed between October to January and must be destroyed. Under the terms of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 it is illegal to keep them.
These workshops allow you to see Brimham differently through activities that engage the senses, exercise your creativity and energise your interest in nature. Activity workshops mostly take place once a month on a Sunday with a different theme for each workshop. So join us again for more nature-filled adventures later in the year.
Here’s a list of forthcoming Nature explorer workshops planned for 2020:
- Sunday 22 March: Nature explorers – 50 Things launch
- Tuesdays & Thursdays, 7, 9, 14 & 16 April: Rock explorers
- Sunday 17 May Nature explorers – Get to know a tree
- Sunday 14 June – Nature explorers – Wild walling
- Sunday 12 July – Nature explorers – Pond dipping
- Sunday 13 September – Nature explorers – 50 Things Extravaganza
- October half term - Broom making workshops
- Sunday 15 November- Nature explorers – Campfire cooking