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Is there an easy way to stop starlings nesting in our loft and how much damage would they do if they were left to get on with it?

Sent in by Ami Johnson, Somerset

Starlings are inquisitive and adaptable birds. They nest in holes and crevices in a variety of man-made and natural structures. Despite this, they are in serious decline, with the UK breeding population having declined by 65% over the last 30 years. This decline qualifies the starling as a 'red-listed' species, that is, of the highest conservation priority.

At this time of year, starlings will be investigating any crevices and holes in buildings for a suitable place to breed. Breeding usually starts in mid-April, so it is possible that they are only roosting in the roofspace in the evenings and leaving the following morning to feed.

Starlings are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it illegal to intentionally kill, injure or take a starling, or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents. Preventing the birds from gaining access to their nests may also be viewed as illegal by the courts. It is therefore important to check for active nests before any repairs to roofs and soffits are carried out during the breeding season.

It would be a pity to deny these charming birds access to a suitable nest site, so when carrying out repairs or building from new, consider putting a nest box behind fascia and soffits that are not positioned directly over main living areas. This confines the birds to one area and prevents them accessing the whole roof space. Find out more about starlings.

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