Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Watch the Birdies; It's National Nest Box Week and Twitchers Are Needed to Study Birds' Changing Habits. JANET TANSLEY Finds out the Details

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Watch the Birdies; It's National Nest Box Week and Twitchers Are Needed to Study Birds' Changing Habits. JANET TANSLEY Finds out the Details

Article excerpt

Byline: JANET TANSLEY

IT may still seem like the depths of winter, but many of our birds are already gearing up for the breeding season. Dunnock, song thrush and great tit can now be heard during breaks in the freezing weather and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is starting to receive the first reports of nesting birds, with mallard, moorhen and mistle thrush already known to have fledged chicks earlier than usual.

BTO volunteers have been monitoring nests for more than 75 years and this month, which includes National Nest Box Week (ending on February 21), it is encouraging families to put up nest boxes so that they can contribute to this long-running national study.

The height |box will species might Dr Dave Leech, a Senior Research Ecologist at the BTO, says: "We know that rising spring temperatures are driving this trend, but what are the repercussions? "Are earlier breeding birds able to keep pace with their insect prey, the appearance of which is also advanced by the warming climate? Or do they still miss the boat, leading to starvation of the chicks? "In order to answer these questions, we urgently need people to monitor nests of common birds, particularly in gardens where data on breeding attempts is surprisingly scarce."

He adds: "As well as providing a suitable site, nest boxes provide an ideal opportunity to record the progress of the eggs and young.

"So, while putting up a box may have some local benefit, collecting data on what's inside for BTO helps bird populations far beyond the boundaries of your own garden."

To find out more about nest boxes and how you can record what happens in your own visit www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/nbc.

Hazel Evans, who runs the BTO's Nest Box Challenge, an online survey where members of the public can submit data about nesting attempts, gives us her top tips for putting up a nest box. …

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