Something that we come across every year when painting and maintaining the externals of property are birds. A lot of the time we are asked to remove nests because they ‘look unsightly’ or ‘the birds cause a mess’ but this doesn’t have to be the case. The UK is home to over 250 species of birds and we have to remember that we are vital to their survival.
Swifts for example are struggling in the UK due to threats to their historical nesting sites, they return to the same place each year and struggle to find alternative nest sites if they lose their original place. If you do come across swift nesting sites you can record them via the RSPB swift inventory. You can provide artifical nesting but a key element if you do provide for swifts, try to position the new entrance hole as close as possible to the original.
House martins are commonly found nesting on buildings and on the outer roof fittings, usually under the overhang of the eaves. You can buy various types of artificial nest for house martins, again these would ideally be located in the original site but if above windows or doors, moving them either side would be OK.
House sparrows and starlings are both red listed species that need the sanctuary of roof space for nesting more than ever and can be catered for by installing nesting boxes, with 32 mm and 45 mm entrance hole diameters respectively. The RSPB offer boxes for most species here.
The legal situation with regards to nesting birds. In short, it is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to intentionally damage or destroy an active bird’s nest. The term active can be used to describe a nest, which is being built or contains eggs and chicks. Any work that would compromise the nest should be postponed until it is clear that the nest is no longer in use. Offences under this legislation can result in fines of upto £5000 or a 6 month jail sentence. Which may sound harsh but these measures have helped our unique bird population to thrive over the years
Nesting birds do not have to be an eyesore or a pest, look at them with affection, you can even install camera’s inside the nest and view the hatching chicks, maybe next year.