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24 September 2014
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Robin

Your Nest Box - Siting and maintenance

Not sure where to put your nest box? BBC Radio Derby's ornithology enthusiast, David Tideswell, shares his tips on how to pick the right location and how to look after it.

TIT BOXES

Siting

Boxes can be fixed into position during most months of the year. Try to avoid the nesting season - late spring to early summer.

The best time is autumn, this gives them a chance to weather and birds will roost in them during the winter.

The box should be fixed between two and five metres (6.5 to 16 feet) above the ground, to a tree or a building, and carefully positioned out of reach of predators (cats).

Unless there are buildings or trees which give permanent shelter, the entrance should face between north east and south east, thus avoiding the wettest, most westerly winds.

Also avoid putting boxes in direct sunlight as prolonged exposure can result in heat stress.

But at the other extreme, do not hide them away in vegetation or dark, north facing corners where they will remain dreary and possibly damp.

A convenient staging post some three metres (10 feet) away will be an asset. This can be anything from a branch to a clothesline.

Maintenance

Nest boxes should be cleared out each year during October (the nests of most birds harbour fleas and other parasites which will remain to infest young birds that hatch the following year).

Remove the old nest complete, watch out for the fleas, don't breathe in the fine dust and use boiling water to kill any remaining parasites.

Once the box is thoroughly dry you may give it a coat of water or copper-based wood treatment (fenceguard).

Place a small handful of moss in the bottom and re-fix firmly.

ROBIN BOXES

Siting

Siting the box is very important for robins.

Robins will not normally nest in an exposed position and Robin boxes (open-fronted) are more vulnerable than tit boxes (enclosed type).

Fix partly concealed but with an open outlook to the front. A clear flight path to the nest site is unnecessary - Robins will happily hop into the box.

Placing the box amongst climbers, eg ivy, clematis, honeysuckle or prickly bushes is the best bet.

The recommended height is about 1.6 metres or shoulder height, generally out of reach of ground predators. Direction is not so important when protected by cover.

Maintenance

Robin boxes should be cleaned out after the winter (end of February) and treated as per tit boxes.

After re-fixing the box securely with a brass screw, place a few dry oak leaves inside. This will encourage take-up.

last updated: 17/02/07
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