Last year there were 17 nest boxes in the garden and this past week I have been cleaning them out and refurbishing a few. All except a camera box (a subject for a later post) are home made. Six contained tree sparrow nests. They included two on electricity poles in the kitchen garden. This is one showing how full the box is by the end of the season. The nest contained lots of feathers and produced at least two and possibly three broods.
I also made a terrace of three boxes for the tree sparrows and it was a success, although I am not sure the nest on the right was complete - it was certainly smaller.
The box below has a different design but tree sparrows used it as well. These were also keen on using feathers and I saw the birds dashing out to collect them just after a pigeon had been killed by a sparrowhawk.
Three boxes contained blue tit nests which are mainly made of moss and don't fill the box as much.
Many of the boxes with holes have a 25, 28 or 32mm plate to protect the entrance. I also have some open fronted boxes and the challenge is to protect them from magpies. Below is one design with a grill made of plastic clematis netting. It contained a nest (I don't know which birds were in it) but that isn't proof they survived the magpies.
This is an alternative design. It is low down at the base of a fence and partly hidden by ivy. The entrance is through the diagonal hole top right and I have removed the lower panel to show the nest. This was all made of moss but I didn't see which birds were in it. I reckon this is pretty magpie-proof.
Overall 13 of 17 nest boxes were occupied - 6 by tree sparrows, 3 by blue tits and 4 unknown. There were also crows nesting in a tall horse chestnut tree, starlings in tree holes, blackbirds in the hedge and I'm sure many other nests as well. I'm busy making a few more boxes. News of how they fare this year will follow later.