Looking after your nestbox

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A little bit of routine maintenance can make all the difference in attracting birds to make a home in your garden.

Get in the habit of checking all your nestboxes before a new breeding season gets underway. Repair any damaged boxes or replace them with new ones.

Remove old nests from boxes. This can be done between September and the end of January. It’s a wise idea to wear gloves and a dust mask while you’re doing it. And don’t hang on to any unhatched eggs – simply dispose of them with the nest.

Old nests can be recycled in your compost bin. A stiff bristled brush, such as an old toothbrush, is a useful tool for removing hardened debris from the box corners.

For tits you can start cleaning operations as soon as breeding is over; but bear in mind that other hole-nesting species like Sparrows may have a second or third brood in the same nest. Leave them alone until later in the autumn when it’s certain they are no longer in use. Don’t delay your clean-up for too long. If the weather turns cold, smaller birds may decide to roost in a nestbox and even build a winter roosting 'nest' for extra warmth.

You may find that woodpeckers or squirrels have tried to enlarge the entrance hole to get at the nestbox contents. If it’s a problem in your area, consider a specially designed metal plate to guard the entrance, available from any good garden centre or online birdcare stockists such as livingwithbirds.com.

Taking good care of your nestboxes will help facilitate regular nesting - and more birds in your garden!