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How to build a bird box

PUBLISHED: 10:46 21 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:47 20 February 2013

nestbox

nestbox

Cotswold life has teamed up with Gloucestershire wildlife Trust to give a prsctical view of how we can all appreciate and celebrate the wildlife and landscapes in the Cotswolds area each month.

February is a month when many garden birds start to think about breeding, which of course means nest building. This makes it the perfect time to help our feathered friends feather their nests.



We always think of birds as visitors to our gardens, but with woodland across the UK in dramatic decline gardens are becoming increasingly important as nesting sites. If you have a wall, fence, trellising or trees then you have an ideal location to put a nesting box and make your garden a place for birds to call home.



There are plenty of good, ready-made bird boxes available to buy, but if you do make sure it's approved by the RSPB and marked with the FSC symbol, which means the wood used has come from a sustainable source.



Even better, why not have a go at making your own bird box using some scrap timber?



Build your own bird box (diagram to illustrate)


You can use old pieces of timber as long as they're unstained, untreated and unplaned. Cut and assemble the wood as per the diagram above. Drill the hole size according to the bird you want to accommodate - 25mm for blue tits or great tits, 29mm for house sparrows or nut hatchs. Use a piece of bicycle inner tube as a hinge (access will be needed to clean the box out in early spring)



When it's ready, site the box in a sheltered position on a tree or wall, facing north-east to south-east to avoid prevailing wet winds and the heat of the midday sun. Try to mount it at least two metres off the ground and away from overhanging branches so cats can't get to the nest. Clean out the box after the birds have finished with it for the year to prevent a build up of parasites.



For robins and fly catchers who are not hole nesters, make an open box and site it on trellis where they can be hidden by climbing plants like honeysuckle, clematis or jasmine. For ground nesting birds like robins and wrens leave an old watering can, kettle or teapot lying in the bushes.



Once you have your bird box installed, help with a ready supply of nesting material on and above the ground, such as odd bits of wool, roof insulation and garden twine.



How to ... make Birdseed Biscuits


If it's cold and wet outside, spare a thought for the garden birds out seeking food. Why not bake some birdseed biscuits, which can be hung from your bird table or a tree near the window. You could even experiment with different types of seeds to see if they attract different types of birds.



Ingredients (makes 24 biscuits)


100g/4oz Margarine


100g/4oz Sugar


200g/8oz Plain Flour


1 Egg


2 Tablespoons of mixed birdfeed seeds


& some string to hang them from



Method


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ Gas Mark 4


2. Cream the margarine and sugar until just light and fluffy


3. Beat in the egg


4. Stir in the flour and most of the birdseed to form a stiff dough, reserving a few seeds to decorate the top of the biscuits


5. Knead lightly and roll out to 10cm/ 4 inches thick


6. Cut out the biscuits, remembering to make a hole for some string if required


7. Decorate with the remaining seeds


8. Place onto a lightly greased baking tray


9. Place tray in oven and cook for approx. 15 minutes until lightly golden in colour


10. Once cooled, thread the string through the holes in the biscuit - your biscuits are now ready to hang outside!




Wildlife garden diary


Garden birds will still be needing help to find food as the weather's still chilly and not a lot's started growing yet, so keep putting out seeds and rotten fruit for them. If your pruning fingers are beginning to twitch, try to resist the temptation to remove any dead seed heads from last year, as they may still be bearing food for birds. Similarly, avoid cutting ivy off trees as it provides a great habitat for lots of wildlife.



Now's a good time of year to use any woody prunings or logs to create a log pile in a shady spot, which will provide a magnificent home for all sorts of garden wildlife, especially mini-beasts.


On mild days keep looking out for bumblebees and early butterflies such as Brimstones. Don't forget, if you spot a Red Admiral butterfly let us know by logging onto www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk and taking part in our Red Admiral survey.



Countryside diary


February's quite a quiet month in the countryside. Everything's still lying dormant waiting to burst into life when the weather warms and Spring arrives. In terms of maintenance work, many land owners will use this time to do hedge work and cut back scrub, before it bushes up again.



In wetland areas such as the Severn Vale there will still be natural flooding, which is ideal for the wintering wildfowl still feeding up before undertaking their flights home



Look out for snow drops and, in sunny hedges and woodland glades, early primroses.



Places to visit:


It's a nice time of year for a woodland walk, where you'll be sheltered from any cold wind or rain, though it will be quite muddy underfoot.



Lower Woods Nature Reserve near Wickwar, the trust's largest woodland reserve


Midger Nature Reserve, an ancient woodland near Lower Kilcott seven miles south of Nailsworth


Frith Wood Nature Reserve near Slad Village, a woodland of soaring beech trees


Collin Park Wood Nature Reserve, east of Newent, an ancient woodland that features small-leaved lime and sessile oak and was once owned by the family of Dick Whittington.



My Favourite Place - Robinswood Hill, Gloucester


By Jackie Birch, Severn Hams Reserve Manager




Whenever my Grandson suggests we go to my favourite place I inwardly groan. This may seem strange but it's because I know I face a long uphill trudge to get to the top of Robinswood Hill.



These days the trip is easier as he is quite willing to follow the main track up, but when he was younger we had to follow the 'Jurassic' path, which entailed climbing up through the woods, stumbling over the many tree roots, until more often than not we would come face to face with a barrier of brambles and have to retrace our steps back down the hill to find another route.



Once at the top of the hill the views out across the western side of Gloucester are fantastic and we sit down with a flask of soup in the winter or a tub of strawberries in the summer and try and spot our houses, our friend's houses and other notable landmarks such as Over Farm Market or McDonalds!



At the top of Robinswood Hill it feels as though you're sat on top of the world. Close at hand are the colours, sounds and smells of nature whilst far below you can see the cars, buses and trains bustling around the city.



As soon as my Grandson and I have recovered from our long climb up the hill we will wander across it to find a different route down (the muddier the better!). This gives us an opportunity to observe the different trees and flowers and how they change throughout the year. We can search for rabbits, butterflies and birds, learning as we go and there is always a fallen tree which warrants clambering over for a closer inspection.



Finally we reach the bottom again and make a detour to see the sheep, goats, ducks and pigs in their pens at the city farm before returning home.



February is a month when many garden birds start to think about breeding, which of course means nest building. This makes it the perfect time to help our feathered friends feather their nests.



We always think of birds as visitors to our gardens, but with woodland across the UK in dramatic decline gardens are becoming increasingly important as nesting sites. If you have a wall, fence, trellising or trees then you have an ideal location to put a nesting box and make your garden a place for birds to call home.



There are plenty of good, ready-made bird boxes available to buy, but if you do make sure it's approved by the RSPB and marked with the FSC symbol, which means the wood used has come from a sustainable source.



Even better, why not have a go at making your own bird box using some scrap timber?



Build your own bird box (diagram to illustrate)


You can use old pieces of timber as long as they're unstained, untreated and unplaned. Cut and assemble the wood as per the diagram above. Drill the hole size according to the bird you want to accommodate - 25mm for blue tits or great tits, 29mm for house sparrows or nut hatchs. Use a piece of bicycle inner tube as a hinge (access will be needed to clean the box out in early spring)



When it's ready, site the box in a sheltered position on a tree or wall, facing north-east to south-east to avoid prevailing wet winds and the heat of the midday sun. Try to mount it at least two metres off the ground and away from overhanging branches so cats can't get to the nest. Clean out the box after the birds have finished with it for the year to prevent a build up of parasites.



For robins and fly catchers who are not hole nesters, make an open box and site it on trellis where they can be hidden by climbing plants like honeysuckle, clematis or jasmine. For ground nesting birds like robins and wrens leave an old watering can, kettle or teapot lying in the bushes.



Once you have your bird box installed, help with a ready supply of nesting material on and above the ground, such as odd bits of wool, roof insulation and garden twine.



How to ... make Birdseed Biscuits


If it's cold and wet outside, spare a thought for the garden birds out seeking food. Why not bake some birdseed biscuits, which can be hung from your bird table or a tree near the window. You could even experiment with different types of seeds to see if they attract different types of birds.



Ingredients (makes 24 biscuits)


100g/4oz Margarine


100g/4oz Sugar


200g/8oz Plain Flour


1 Egg


2 Tablespoons of mixed birdfeed seeds


& some string to hang them from



Method


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ Gas Mark 4


2. Cream the margarine and sugar until just light and fluffy


3. Beat in the egg


4. Stir in the flour and most of the birdseed to form a stiff dough, reserving a few seeds to decorate the top of the biscuits


5. Knead lightly and roll out to 10cm/ 4 inches thick


6. Cut out the biscuits, remembering to make a hole for some string if required


7. Decorate with the remaining seeds


8. Place onto a lightly greased baking tray


9. Place tray in oven and cook for approx. 15 minutes until lightly golden in colour


10. Once cooled, thread the string through the holes in the biscuit - your biscuits are now ready to hang outside!




Wildlife garden diary


Garden birds will still be needing help to find food as the weather's still chilly and not a lot's started growing yet, so keep putting out seeds and rotten fruit for them. If your pruning fingers are beginning to twitch, try to resist the temptation to remove any dead seed heads from last year, as they may still be bearing food for birds. Similarly, avoid cutting ivy off trees as it provides a great habitat for lots of wildlife.



Now's a good time of year to use any woody prunings or logs to create a log pile in a shady spot, which will provide a magnificent home for all sorts of garden wildlife, especially mini-beasts.


On mild days keep looking out for bumblebees and early butterflies such as Brimstones. Don't forget, if you spot a Red Admiral butterfly let us know by logging onto www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk and taking part in our Red Admiral survey.



Countryside diary


February's quite a quiet month in the countryside. Everything's still lying dormant waiting to burst into life when the weather warms and Spring arrives. In terms of maintenance work, many land owners will use this time to do hedge work and cut back scrub, before it bushes up again.



In wetland areas such as the Severn Vale there will still be natural flooding, which is ideal for the wintering wildfowl still feeding up before undertaking their flights home



Look out for snow drops and, in sunny hedges and woodland glades, early primroses.



Places to visit:


It's a nice time of year for a woodland walk, where you'll be sheltered from any cold wind or rain, though it will be quite muddy underfoot.



Lower Woods Nature Reserve near Wickwar, the trust's largest woodland reserve


Midger Nature Reserve, an ancient woodland near Lower Kilcott seven miles south of Nailsworth


Frith Wood Nature Reserve near Slad Village, a woodland of soaring beech trees


Collin Park Wood Nature Reserve, east of Newent, an ancient woodland that features small-leaved lime and sessile oak and was once owned by the family of Dick Whittington.



My Favourite Place - Robinswood Hill, Gloucester


By Jackie Birch, Severn Hams Reserve Manager




Whenever my Grandson suggests we go to my favourite place I inwardly groan. This may seem strange but it's because I know I face a long uphill trudge to get to the top of Robinswood Hill.



These days the trip is easier as he is quite willing to follow the main track up, but when he was younger we had to follow the 'Jurassic' path, which entailed climbing up through the woods, stumbling over the many tree roots, until more often than not we would come face to face with a barrier of brambles and have to retrace our steps back down the hill to find another route.



Once at the top of the hill the views out across the western side of Gloucester are fantastic and we sit down with a flask of soup in the winter or a tub of strawberries in the summer and try and spot our houses, our friend's houses and other notable landmarks such as Over Farm Market or McDonalds!



At the top of Robinswood Hill it feels as though you're sat on top of the world. Close at hand are the colours, sounds and smells of nature whilst far below you can see the cars, buses and trains bustling around the city.



As soon as my Grandson and I have recovered from our long climb up the hill we will wander across it to find a different route down (the muddier the better!). This gives us an opportunity to observe the different trees and flowers and how they change throughout the year. We can search for rabbits, butterflies and birds, learning as we go and there is always a fallen tree which warrants clambering over for a closer inspection.



Finally we reach the bottom again and make a detour to see the sheep, goats, ducks and pigs in their pens at the city farm before returning home.



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