Spring is the nesting season for many wild birds in the UK. Nesting usually happens between the 1st March and 31st July, but can vary depending on the bird species. As nights begin to stay lighter for longer, birds start to look for a mating partner. They typically do this by singing, performing a variety of displays to demonstrate health and strength, touching and preening and starting to construct a nest together.
Once it’s time to build the nest, the majority is done by the female in some species. In others, the male can be found doing all the work, whilst the female lines it. As part of the courtship of looking for a mating partner, nest building can also happen whilst the female is still searching for a partner, by the male proving he is able to provide and look after the female.
Here are a few things you can do to help the wild birds in your garden whilst they are building nests and preparing for fledgling season.
1. Avoid cutting or trimming hedges in Spring
Lots of wildlife species use hedges and shrubbery for nesting in. If you see birds continually visiting your hedges, avoid trimming or cutting these until nesting season is over.
2. If you find a bird nest, don’t spend too much time around it
As humans we leave a scent trail wherever we go, which can lead to predators such as foxes and rats lurking in the area in search of prey. If you find a nest, don’t visit it repeatedly to avoid any disturbances to it.
3. Place bird feeders away from trees to deter predators from the nest
Bird feeders already attract the likes of squirrels and bigger birds in search of food. Placing bird feeders near the nest box can lead predators right to nesting site. If you see a nest or area you think birds are nesting in, it’s best to keep food away.
4. Provide nest boxes if possible
A nest box placed well can provide birds with a lot more security and safety than in a tree or a hedge. Although birds may take time finding your nest box and making a nest in it, you can encourage this by leaving grass trimmings and twigs inside ready for the bird to nest in.
5. Leave out helpful materials such as crumbled eggshells, twigs and grass clippings
As you would placing these helpful materials in a nest box, these can help the birds build their nest when their natural material sources may be hard to find. Eggshells can be a great source for replacing calcium that may be lost during egg production and laying. Dry eggshells out in the oven for 10-30 minutes at 200 degrees, crumble into smaller pieces then spread in open spaces around the garden.
6. Provide plenty of fresh water
Provide water for your wild bird visitors all year round if you can. Ensure the water is changed every few days to maintain food hygiene, the average water depth should be less than three inches, birds love drinking and bathing in shallow water.