Birds on your doorstep

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I’ve written about nest boxes for garden birds before, but I would like to remind readers that now – not spring – is the time of year to clean them out, thereby preparing them not only for the next breeding season, but also for winter roosting.

Any old nest should be removed (they harbour mites and maggots), using plastic gloves, and the box swilled with boiling water – which is safer and cheaper than pesticide.

When dry, make any necessary repairs to the box, ensuring it has drainage holes in the bottom, and fix it firmly in its old or new position, at a slightly forward slant, away from potential direct sunlight and predators.

Paint or waterproof the outside (but not inside) if required.

For winter roosting birds, it helps to insert a small 
twig in the base to perch on. Woodpecker boxes require a small log within.

In addition to feeding, giving our garden birds somewhere to nest in spring and summer helps them greatly – they do need our help – but so does giving them somewhere safe and warm to sleep in autumn and winter!