Nest & eggs of Cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus. RSPB Cirl Bunting Project. Devon,

Protecting nest sites in roofs

We've put together some advice on protecting birds and their nest sites in your roof.

What to do if birds nest in your roof

If you have birds nesting in your roof, see where they are gaining access. Leave access to the active nest, which is legally protected until the chicks have fledged, before thinking about blocking the hole. If you can, please retain these existing access holes for them so they can continue to nest. 

If you're planning to carry out masonry repairs, window replacements and roof extensions, consider whether the work may disturb nesting birds and bats, which are legally protected. It is actually illegal to intentionally destroy or disturb the active nest of any wild bird, or disturb and prevent access to bat roost sites. 

If you find that you have to replace fascias and soffits that will cover existing holes, why not ask your builder to make a new hole and fit an internal box at the same point as the existing nest site? This could also be an opportunity to create new nest sites in the same way.

Avoid using timber preservation control when nesting birds are present (between March and August), as the fumes can kill them in the confined roof space. 

Bats are extremely sensitive to chemicals. If there is evidence that they may be present, seek advice from the Bat Conservation Trust, or your statutory conservation agency (Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage or Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland) before any work starts.

Make sure that any loft insulation work, whether new or upgrading, doesn't prevent birds gaining access at the eaves. The insulation material should not be pushed into the soffit and fascia area, as this obstructs the birds' point of entry - and impedes ventilation!

Why wildlife use sheds as a refuge

Wildlife tends to use a garden shed as a refuge from the harsh winter weather. Wood is a good insulator, so the inside of a shed and their roofs are usually warm and dry.

It's not just birds that nest in sheds. Many insects creep into cracks and crevices; others simply cling to the roof.

Spiders live all year round in sheds. In the summer they catch flies and midges that enter unsuspectingly. During the winter they may go for months without a meal, but this doesn’t seem to matter as they are inactive themselves at this time. 

A host of different creatures find shelter under the shed throughout the year, for instance toads, bumblebees, slow worms and snails.

Piles of earth around your shed are a sign that a foxes may be living underneath.