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Do starlings nest in boxes?

Sent in by Stanley Morrow, Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Starlings are cavity nesters so will definitely use nestboxes. They prefer a box slightly larger than the one used by blue tits, with an entrance hole of 45mm. 

Boxes for starlings can be placed on trees or, in a shady spot on a building. They don't mind company, so will nest quite close to one another. They regularly nest in roof spaces too and are not always welcome. Seldom causing damage, they can be rather noisy but for a very short period. 

For several years they shared my house, nesting in a small opening on the chimney. They were noisy but very welcome. When the outside of my house was decorated, during January last year, the decorator, with the best of intentions, repaired this area blocking the hole. We quickly installed a nestbox as close to the site as possible and were delighted when they took to it immediately and raised two lots of young. I am looking forward to their return and we have already had reports of starlings and other species, inspecting nestboxes ready for the breeding season.

If planning house maintenance, do be aware that several species of birds, including house sparrows, house martins and starlings may be nesting in the roof space. If the nest is not active, but the site needs to be removed, or the entrance blocked, it will be very beneficial if a nestbox can be provided. 

Loss of suitable nest sites, for starlings and house sparrows, has contributed to a massive decline in their population. It is illegal to to anything to an active nest. For further advice please call Wildlife Enquiries on, 01767 693690.

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