Monday, 16 February 2015

National Nest Box Week and the Nest Record Scheme

A reminder that in the UK this week, from 14 to 21 February is National Nest Box Week - a great time to put up any additional nest boxes just in time for our birds' breeding season. We've been busy at the weekend putting up a couple of new nest boxes in suitable spots in the garden, the insect 'hotel' bought at Christmas is now in place too. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has loads of great information on their website regarding nestbox making and siting, as does the RSPB.  Anyone interested can also register their nest boxes with the BTO's Nest Box Challenge, which asks people to help in gathering information on the breeding success of birds by monitoring the nest boxes, giving plenty of detailed information on how to safely do so, keeping disturbance of the birds to a minimum.

The BTO also runs the national Nest Record Scheme (NRS) which collects and collates nest records for all types of wild birds (with the proviso that it must be possible to see into a nest to record its contents). Volunteers first register as nest recorders with the scheme which provides a lot of information and support regarding nest recording, and then go in search of nests, recording information such as location and date, nest contents and outcome, as well as details about the habitat and nest site, all of which is reported back to the BTO. Nest recorders follow the NRS code of conduct, so that there is consistency across observers in how data is collected, but most importantly so that disturbance to birds in kept to a minimum and so that the monitoring does not have any negative effect on the outcome of the nests checked.

Nesting Coot (I encountered her in reeds close to a footpath, quickly took a photo and moved on)

Some legal bits...

Wild birds and their nests are protected by law, when monitoring nests only licensed bird ringers are legally permitted to pick up and handle eggs and chicks and this is only for the purposes of taking measurements/weights and ringing. All photos below were taken during ringing of the birds, with the appropriate licences in place. Certain species including Barn Owls, are listed as Schedule 1 birds and are afforded additional legal protection during the breeding season, as are their nests and young, meaning that it is against the law to disturb them or their nests during the breeding season for monitoring without having the appropriate additional licencing to do so. Again, the BTO website has lots more information for anyone interested in becoming involved with the monitoring of these species and also about the ringing scheme in the UK.

Little Owl chicks (some of my personal favourites!)

Stock dove chicks
Kestrel chick (photo taken by my husband)

 Barn Owl chick (a Schedule 1 species)


  1. How amazing to be this close to these beautiful birds. Great photos of them, especially the little kestrel :)

    1. Thanks Claire - I really enjoy being involved with the ringing side of things, and yes the chicks are adorable! :) It's always great when you've been monitoring a nest and you can report that the chicks have all managed to fledge ok.

  2. Oh wow!! How cute is this!! Those sweet little faces. Fabulous images Jan. You sure know your stuff!! :) x

    1. Thanks Kez - I try lol (and I have some very knowledgeable contacts, not to mention books...). ;) And yes the little ones are incredibly cute (still have to watch out for sharp little talons though!). :)