Protecting Garden Nests
Spring might be slow to come this year but it hasn't stop birds from getting busy mating, seeking for the best locations and building nests. This is the beginning of the period where birds and their newborn young are the most vulnerable. If you spot a nest in your garden, what can you do to help to help protect them?
Depending on species, the location and the weather, the nesting period usually starts from the beginning of March lasts until the end of July. During this period, your garden, especially if bird-friendly, is likely to be visited by couple of birds seeking for the perfect location to lay their eggs. The factors influencing the construction of a nest include: the climate, the location, the availability of food (how hard it will be for a bird parent to find enough food), the presence of predators.
In the United-Kingdom, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects all nesting birds with a maximum penalty that can reach up to a £5,000 fine and six months of imprisonment if caught in the act of offending a bird, a nest or an egg. Nests and birds are very vulnerable to predators such as cats and squirrels (even snakes if there are any in the area) who will eat eggs or baby birds if left unsupervised for too long. For many birdwatchers, the nesting season is one of the greatest opportunities to observe species at a young age, as well as watching bird behaviour. If you want to provide birds with a safe place to nest and watch generations of birds grow in your garden, follow our simple tips below:
1. Install a nest box
If you have previously installed a nest box in your garden, birds may establish their nest inside it, which will ensure them a good protection during the incubation period. However these boxes should be installed in Autumn, giving time to birds to incorporate it as a natural habitat by the time the nesting season comes. If you have only recently installed your bird home, there is a chance that it will remain empty for this spring but will be visited next year. The good news is, many bird species will nest in the same place the following years if safe, so if you seek the joys of the breeding seasons, increasing the protection of the nests will increase your chances of being visited again the next year.
If you don’t know which nesting box to choose, read our article on Choosing the best bird house design, as it gives guidance on which bird house suits which species.
2. Invest in a Baffler
A squirrel baffler for instance, will prevent squirrels from entering the bird house and steal the eggs or eat the seeds of the bird feeders. These can be hung to a tree, a pole, the bird feeder or the nest box themselves, creating a barrier between the predators and their prey. During the nesting season it can be used to protect the nests and during the rest of the year it can be used to prevent squirrels from stealing your seeds.
3. Keep your cat inside
Although cats are also wonderful creatures, their natural instincts will tell them to chase the birds and their young. It may be worthwhile to keep your cat indoors during this period, especially during the fly baptism of young birds where they tend to stay on the ground.
4. Delay your gardening
The more hidden the nest is, the safest. If you plan to trim your tree branches or your bushes this spring, delay doing so as branches and bushes provide coverage and protection for birds as well as nesting resources in the early days. Birds will feed and educate their young until the end of the summer depending on the species. If your garden holds a nest, try reducing your activity in the garden as it disturbs them.
5. Keep your bird feeder full
If you had previously mounted your birdfeeder for the winter, be sure to keep it out during all seasons as birds need to be fed and watered all year around, not just in the winter period. Making sure your birdfeeder is always full will attracts more birds seeking for a place to nest where food is available.
6. Use natural materials
Wooden birdhouses are the most popular type of birdhouse as wood is naturally durable and weather resistant. You can make or redecorate your bird house but make sure not to use any artificial products on the interior of the birdhouse as they can be toxic. Furthermore, make sure that no parts such as nails are left unfinished on the outside of the house as it may be harmful to birds.
These steps should be undertaken before the birds are nesting as once they are in action, they should not be disturbed.
Written by Marion Cointre European Ecommerce Content Specialist at Wild Bird Feeders.
Wildbirdfeeders.co.uk – Your Ultimate Bird Resource. We are Perky Pet®, Birdscapes®, Garden Song® and Avant Garden® – four strong brands recognised as world leaders in the wild bird feeding category! We offer the broadest and deepest selection of quality bird feeding products at competitive prices.