April, 2013

Our work

Our work
You might be surprised to read that our work is far broader than nature reserves and Big Garden Birdwatch. Read more about what else we do.

Bugs, Birds and Beasts in the East

All of our up to date fun and frolics in the East from office antics to great conservation stories and those magical connections with nature.
  • I have a squatter in my box

    Blogger: Jon Haw, Reserves Manager


    Got a question for us then give us a shout either here on our blog or find us on Twitter or Facebook under RSPBintheEast. The other day we had this inquiry from Tina:


    Can anyone help with a question?

    I have a bird box on the side of my house with a camera set up inside. I had blue tit's going in and out last year and they started to build, but then abandoned it so I cleaned it out as winter began, and at Christmas I thought I would just turn the camera on and to see if there was anything in it. To my amazement there was a bird in there! I think it is a blue tit (although this was hard to tell as it was on night vision) and she/he comes in to sleep EVERY single night and then leaves at dawn! He/she has not put any bedding in there, it's just the bird and is in there every night just to sleep (and poo!)! Is this normal????

    I really wanted to see them nesting and watching little babies hatch etc and would be wonderful for my 3 year old to see, but I don't think this will happen if this little bird keeps coming and using it as a hotel at night! 
    I would love to hear what you think!


    Birds often use nest boxes in winter to roost.  Essentially birds look for a relatively warm safe place and that could be a tree hole, wall crevice. under the roof tiles of a house that may have been a nesting place in previous years ...or old nest box.  In my house and garden I have a great tit that sleeps under the tiles on the conservatory, a blue tit that squeezes in to a hole in the woodwork on the garage and a wren that goes into the shed through the broken window to roost in an old wrens nest.


    I have witnessed this behaviour in old nest boxes quite often and there are various records of different species utilising boxes.  Sparrows will use old house martin nests.  Wrens don’t nest in closed fronted boxes but are commonly recorded roosting in boxes - often up to a dozen or more in one box.  I think there is a record of as many as thirty, in one standard bird box.  They get the added bonus of mutual warmth too.  Blue tits and great tits will often roost on their own but rarely in 2’s and 3’s


    Will they nest this year....???  Yes.  Chances are a pair of blue tits or great tits will set up regardless of any winter squatters.  They’ll evict any single birds. It has been a rather funny year with the cold so they may not even have got down to nesting yet.  It’s all tied in with caterpillar populations ....they need to be emerging as the blue tit youngster are hatching.


    Hope that helps all you folk giving nature a home this Spring.

    Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com)

  • Suffolk’s Spectacular Music Celebration


    Roll up Roll up! There are only two weeks left to buy tickets for an exclusive concert  in the heart of Suffolk.

    To be held in the prestigious Snape Maltings Concert Hall and its beautiful surroundings, the concert will take place on 27 April and is run in conjunction with the RSPB.

    Suffolk is synonomous with wild landscapes and thriving wildlife. With RSPB’s flagship nature reserve nestled on the coastline, visitors to Suffolk can enjoy booming bitterns, elusive otters, dancing marsh harriers as well as a plethora of other wildlife, flora and fauna.

    The evening will feature the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, directed by Steven Devine. The programme includes pieces from Works by Corelli, Handel, Albinoni and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater.

    There will be a free pre-performance talk before the main event kicks off at 7.30pm, however booking for this is strongly advised.

    For more information and to book tickets, please go to www.aldeburgh.co.uk or call 01728 687110

    The event is kindly sponsored by Viking Optical Limited and Swarovski whose support make this event possible.

  • The legal status of corvids in the UK

    Crows, jackdaws and rooks are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. This makes it illegal to intentionally take, injure or kill them, or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents. However, the law recognises that in some circumstances control may be necessary. The UK Government issues annually a general licence (for which it is not necessary to apply individually) under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which allows certain corvids to be killed or taken by ‘authorised persons’, using permitted methods, for the purposes of:


    • preventing serious damage to agricultural crops or livestock

    • preserving public health/air safety

    • conserving wild birds.


    The killing can only be done under these specific conditions. An ‘authorised person’ is a landowner or occupier, or someone acting with the landowner’s or occupier’s permission.

    Legal control methods involve trapping or shooting. Larsen traps, a type of cage trap, are designed to catch birds alive and unharmed, and it can be baited with food, or with a live decoy crow, jackdaw or rook (providing this decoy is provided with adequate food and water). If you suspect that a Larsen trap has been set illegally to catch birds of prey, please report this

    to the police Wildlife Crime Officer. Gun laws state that control by shooting can only be done well away from houses and public roads.


    The RSPB is not opposed to legal, site-specific control, nor to the legal use of Larsen traps. The RSPB opposes illegal corvid control, such as poisoning, which has a high risk of accidentally poisoning other birds, including rare birds of prey. Many people wish to control crows and jackdaws in gardens, thinking that they are a threat to small garden birds. Considering that there is no scientific evidence that either species would pose a conservation problem to any species of garden bird, the RSPB believes that the use of general licence in

    this context is at best debateable. Where rooks choose to nest in suburban areas or in trees in gardens, people are often intolerant of their presence either because of the noise, or because they have parked a car underneath the nesting trees and it has received the inevitable scattering of droppings.


    These situations constitute a nuisance, which is not a legal reason to kill any bird or destroy its active nest. Sometimes a large quantity of droppings may be viewed as a health hazard. It is advisable to obtain the opinion of a public health officer before any action is taken to ensure that the action is lawful. In those situations where there is a genuine problem,

    deterrents that prevent the birds from settling to breed in the first place are far preferable to destroying nests. It must be remembered that if challenged, anyone killing birds may have to prove to a court of law that they had acted lawfully. 


    This information is from our Crows, jackdaws & rooks Leaflet: