Help birds in the race to get on the property ladder

Jasmine Granton

Wednesday 4 April 2018

It hasn’t felt an awful lot like spring over the last few weeks with the Beast from the East covering most UK gardens with snow and putting early spring gardening on hold.

But as the busiest time of year for gardeners approaches it’s time to get out and prepare your gardens for summer. Remember that lots of our garden birds are nesting at this time too, so it’s important that they are not disturbed.

Birds such as blackbirds, robins, and song thrush will all be setting up home in gardens, looking for as much shelter as possible and there are a number of things you can do, along with supplying food and water to make their lives a little easier at nesting time.

  1. Put up a nestbox. Many birds such as coal tits, great tits and house sparrows use nest boxes as a safe, warm and comfortable space and they’re an excellent substitute for a tree hole.
  2. Collect your pets fur at grooming time (as long as no chemical treatments have been applied recently) or take your own from hairbrushes (cut into short pieces) and peg them in bunches on the washing line. Birds will come along and take as much as they need to help build a snug nest.  
  3. Other things that can be left out to help birds create their nest are small pieces of cloth, dental floss, strands of cotton, pieces of string, feathers, shredded paper, cotton wool and straw.
  4. Try not to do too much intensive pruning of your hedges, ivy and shrubbery at this time of year; birds may be nesting beneath the foliage and relying on it for cover.
  5. If you come across a nest, leave well alone – birds that are disturbed may decide to abandon their eggs or young for fear of the site not being safe.

Birds are naturally secretive and if they feel somewhere is safe, warm and secure, chances are they’ll decide to call it home. This means you may not realise that a feathered family has set up in your garden, roof of your house or even somewhere more unusual!

For one family of robins, the race to get on the property ladder got so tough they decided to set-up home in a car. In another instance, an unsuspecting RSPB employee was surprised to find a robin had built a nest in the front of his Land Rover when he went to start it up. 

Robin nesting in Land Rover (c) Dan Skinner

That’s not the only occasion a family of birds have made themselves at home in a peculiar place. Over the years, the RSPB has had some rather unusual nesting spots reported including inside a bike helmet, in the middle of a coiled up hose pipe, in a cigarette bin and even inside a human skull! (Yes at a burial ground) 

Whether it’s a wooden nestbox, a sturdy tree or somewhere more unexpected; if you haven’t already got lodgers, then you soon could have. April is one of the busiest months for both birds and gardeners, as the weather gradually improves and daylight hours increase. So get out into your garden and enjoy making it a wildlife haven for the new fledglings that will soon appear. 

Last Updated: Wednesday 1 May 2019

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RSPB Giving Nature a Home Campaign

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Tagged with: Country: UK Topic: Birds and wildlife Topic: Garden birds Topic: Giving Nature a Home