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It’s National Nest Box Week!

by | Feb 19, 2024

National Nest Box Week

As National Nest Box Week draws to an end, our feathered friends are starting to pair up, marking the beginnings of a new breeding season.

Loss of suitable habitat, changes in land use, and various other factors have negatively impacted many of the UK’s breeding birds leading to well-known species like the House Sparrow and Common Starling being placed on the Red List. The role of gardens, green spaces and suitable habitats for nesting are becoming more and more important for declining bird populations.

Recognizing the pivotal role nest boxes play in supporting our resident birds, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) says that providing them can help many birds to thrive. As well as offering essential shelter, a home and nesting opportunities for birds, they can also serve as valuable data collection points. Through participation in the BTO’s nest monitoring schemes, we can contribute crucial insights into breeding success, aiding conservation efforts on both regional and national scales.

At our penultimate winter ringing session, a total of 52 birds were ringed. Among them, twenty-five Blue Tits were recorded, and one individual stood out. Making his thirteenth appearance at Stanwick Lakes ringing sessions, he was first ringed in 2017, giving an indication of his old age – an impressive age of 6 years and 92 days!

We know this, because he was ringed as a fledgling, as part of our Nest Box Scheme.

Stanwick Lakes Nest Box Scheme

At Stanwick Lakes, there are over 40 strategically placed nest boxes catering to a diverse array of species, from Tits, Robins, and Wrens to the larger birds such as  Stock Doves, Jackdaws, Owls, and Kestrels.

Reflecting on the successes of our conservation efforts, the 2023 Nest Box Scheme revealed an above-average breeding productivity at Stanwick Lakes, through nest box monitoring and ringing (under license). More in-depth data suggests this success can be attributed to the high occupancy rates of the nest boxes, (rather than large clutch and brood sizes) and gives an insight to the tangible positive impact of these type of initiatives.

It’s not too late to put up your own nest box – autumn or early winter is best as many species of bird will start looking for a nest site as early as January – but nest boxes can offer shelter all year round.

But if you don’t have the space for your own, or simply want to do more to support birds, including those at Stanwick Lakes, you can!

Sponsor a Nestbox

Once again, we are inviting you to become a steward of bird conservation by sponsoring a nest box for the upcoming 2024 nesting season. Your generous £25 donation will contribute towards projects specifically aimed to help birds on the nature reserve and awareness to support these initiatives.

Nest Box Sponsors will receive a nest box pack detailing information their allocated nest box, information about how we look after the birds on the nature reserve and an RSPB pin badge.

To protect the birds, we don’t share the exact location of the nest boxes with you but we will give you a general description of the location, details of the immediate habitat, and its registered number so you can follow what is happening in the box throughout the nesting season. The box that you have sponsored will have been designed for a specific bird and will have been used before, but we can’t guarantee which bird will use it, as the birds make their own choices as to where they nest!

Weekly Updates

As the breeding season kicks off in February/March 2024, and we provide our first report in late March/early April, you’ll be able to follow along with updates on your box and comprehensive insights into all the nest boxes scattered throughout the nature reserve at Stanwick Lakes.

The weekly updates will detail which birds have taken up residence in each box, egg-laying activity, and milestones of chick hatching and fledging.


2023 Highlights

Last year, we had several notable observations to report including Female Great Tits incubating mixed clutches of Blue and Great Tit eggs in two of our boxes. Mixed broods like this often arise when the larger Great Tits assert dominance over the Blue Tits, forcing them off the nest and laying their own, leading to a mix of eggs and the Great Tit then taking over the incubation duties.

Last year was also the first year we observed two active Tawny Owl nests. As long-lived birds, Tawny Owls do not need to raise large numbers of offspring each year and, as such, focus their efforts on raising a small number of quality young. Hence, raising two healthy young from the two nesting attempts at Stanwick Lakes will make 2023 a very successful year for this species.

Of the 379 eggs that were laid in the nest boxes in 2023, 286 young birds were assumed to have fledged successfully. This was the highest annual number of young to have fledged from the monitored nests at Stanwick Lakes.


How to Sponsor

If you find these insights as fascinating as we do, and want to have a direct impact on local conservation, then why not consider Nest Box Sponsorship? You can purchase Nest Box Sponsorship via our online shop.

Your decision to sponsor will not only support our conservation initiatives but also contribute to the preservation of Stanwick Lakes’ rich bird biodiversity.

Ways you can support the charity that runs Stanwick Lakes

From volunteering on conservation or heritage projects, to sponsoring a bird box, or partnering with us as a business, find out the many ways you can contribute to your local environmental charity.

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