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Help tackle the housing crisis during National Nest Box Week

Last modified: 17 February 2015

Blue tit inspecting nestbox

There are no problems with the blue tit population, but other garden regulars like house sparrows and starlings are crying out for places to nest

Image: Katie Fuller

The RSPB is challenging nature lovers all over the country to embrace the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)'s National Nest Box week by putting up a nest box in their gardens ahead of the bird nesting season. 

Natural nest sites for birds are disappearing quicker than ever and with many species laying their eggs up to 30 days earlier than in the 1960s, our feathered friends need all the help they can get.

Lack of nesting sites for some of our best loved garden visitors, such as; house sparrow, greenfinch and starling, is thought to be one of the reasons for their alarming decline in recent years. The RSPB will reveal the latest highs and lows for birds and other wildlife in March with the results of the Big Garden Birdwatch.

The 18th National Nest Box Week, which runs from 14-21 February, encourages people to put up boxes, providing the perfect for birds to nest for this year and many years to come.

The BTO's Nest Box Challenge Organiser, Hazel Evans, said: 'Natural nest sites for birds such as holes in trees and old buildings are disappearing fast as gardens are ‘tidied’ and old houses are repaired. 

'If you still have a nestbox in your shed or garage, now is the time to get it up'

'Taking part in National Nest Box Week gives you a chance to contribute to bird conservation whilst getting the pleasure of observing any breeding birds. Putting up a nest box helps individual birds, while monitoring helps the conservation of the species.'

RSPB Wildlife Advisor, Richard James, said: 'If you still have a nest box in your shed or garage, now is the time to get them up. Birds are nesting earlier and earlier every year, so they will actually start shopping around for suitable nest sites soon.

'Putting in a bit effort now by getting your nest boxes out and putting them up in the right place will also increase the chances of having a bustling garden bursting with young birds in spring, so it will be beneficial all year round.'

Which birds are top of the charts?

The RSPB’s 36th annual Big Garden Birdwatch survey results will be revealed the week of 23 March. It is thought that more than half a million people completed their one-hour watch, spotting close to 7 million birds.

In last year’s Birdwatch survey, the great spotted woodpecker made the top 20 of most-spotted garden birds for the first time. It was also a good year for goldfinches, which swooped into the number seven spot. 

But it was another hard year for song thrushes, which have declined by 81 per cent since the survey started. They are in 21st place and, like many of our favourite garden birds, remain on the red list.

Once the data has been checked and pieced together, RSPB scientists will be able to monitor trends and understand how different birds and other wildlife are faring. Then, together, we can help those in danger and find the best ways to give nature a home.

How you can help

Nature in the UK is in trouble and some of our more familiar garden species are amongst those suffering serious declines. We can all help by giving nature a home where we live.