Gate leading to a frosty field | The RSPB

Nature's calendar: February

February is the month of love and there’s no doubt that we’ve all fallen in love with our garden birds this winter…

Blue tit perched on tree | The RSPB

Blue tit

One of our most familiar garden visitors and the most likely to use a nest box. In fact, they have been known to investigate nest boxes just minutes after they've been put up!

 

Blue tits look for the classic type of nest box with a 25mm entrance hole. They make a small cup-shaped nest within the nest box using moss and wool and can lay a clutch of up to 16 eggs which could mean very busy parents.

In the garden

This month is the perfect time to provide our garden visitors with the ideal home ahead of spring. Here are some likely occupants and what they’ll need.

Toad in a garden pond with frogspawn | The RSPB

Frogspawn

Keep a close eye on your pond this month as there’s every chance of the appearance of early frogspawn. As the weather warms up ever so slightly, frogs can come out of hibernation and get on with the business of spring.

European robin perched on branch | The RSPB

Robin

Robins often nest on banks amongst vegetation or dense ivy but it’s possible to attract them into a nest box if it’s well hidden...

 

Typically, they will use open-fronted nest boxes but these have to be well covered by vegetation as they don’t like to give away their nest sites in case of a lurking predator.

Person digging in a field | The RSPB

Tree planting

February is not only a great time to get your nest boxes up. It’s also the ideal time to plant some extra habitat such as native trees and shrubs which will help your garden wildlife for years to come.

house sparrow perched on branch | The RSPB

House sparrow

Unlike many other birds, house sparrows will happily nest near others. By putting up a little terrace nest box you might even attract a whole community of sparrows, filling your garden with the sound of their chirping! This species is in serious decline so its birdsong will be something to celebrate and enoy.

 

They will need a nest box with a 32mm entrance hole.

Early love birds...

There are a few that get ahead of the game and could be nest building at this very moment in your garden or nearby.

Woodpigeon

Believe it or not, woodpigeons have been known to nest in every month of the year. Their young are fed on a ‘milk’ that the parents make in their crop. This means they aren’t reliant on finding food for their chicks such as caterpillars which are only abundant in the spring and summer.

 

They make rather iffy nests built from just a beak full of twigs, and eggs have been known to fall straight through them!

long-tailed tit perched on branch | The RSPB

Long-tailed tit

Unlike other species of tit, the long-tailed tit does not use nest boxes. Instead, it creates the most delicate and beautiful enclosed nests made from lichen, wool, feathers and even cobweb. Nests can take up to a month to build before eggs are laid, usually towards the end of March.

 

They are very social and pairs can be assisted by others when feeding young.

mistle thrush perched on garden fence | The RSPB

Mistle thrush

There is one bird that isn’t afraid to get ahead of the rest when it comes to attracting a mate.

 

The mistle thrush is sometimes known as the storm cock because it often needs to sing during rough weather in late winter and by late February will be busy nest building.

Adult robin singing | The RSPB

Which bird song is that?

Keep an eye out for all sorts of courtship behaviours and listen out for bird song as spring is just around the corner.

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