Whenever you visit the hairdresser ask if you can take home the clippings for the birds. Put them in an old style cage bird feeder or a pop sock along with pet hair (do not use it if the animal has been treated for fleas) and feathers and hang it in the branches of a bush.
Keep your eyes peeled throughout late March and April and you may be able to see birds collecting material and building their nests
Birds and especially house sparrows will take it as needed and use it, along with straw and dried grasses, to line their nests to cushion their eggs and insulate them from cold blasts. They sometimes also add it to the outside of the construction to help camouflage it.
Starlings may also take the hair and use it with the fresh cut green leaves from shrub prunings and moss raked from your lawn.
Blackbirds, robins and song thrushes build their nests by weaving grasses and small twigs, which they camouflage with moss and line them with mud.
Putting up a nest box
January is a great time to put up nest boxes, as some species, such as Blue Tit and Great Tit, will spend a month or more investigating a suitable nest site before making a decision
Putting a nest box up this early and there’s a good chance that it will provide a safe and warm sanctuary for birds to roost in over the cold winter nights.
Nest boxes basically come in two main types: those with a hole in the front and those which are open fronted and suitable for Robins, Wrens, Blackbirds and Song Thrush. The size of the entrance hole varies, making the box suitable for different species of garden bird. For Tits it’s usually 28mm in diameter; Sparrows, Great Tits and Nuthatch 32mm is required and for strlings 45mm. You can also buy specialist nest boxes for species such as Swift and Tawny Owl.
The ideal position for a nest box is a sheltered north or north-easterly aspect. Never position a nest box where it gets day-long direct sunlight, as it will simply get too hot inside and any young birds will perish. Avoid therefore, south-facing aspects, plus also exposed west-facing aspects which are likely to get blasted by wind and rain.
Boxes for tits, sparrows or starlings should be fixed 2-4m up a tree or a wall. Open-fronted boxes for robins and wrens need to be low down, below 2m, well hidden in vegetation so they’re not obvious to predatory birds such as Magpies. Woodpecker boxes need to be 3-5m high on a tree trunk with a clear flight path and away from disturbance.
There is a large range of high quality nest boxes to buy and even some fitted with CCTV cameras in them so you can watch the action from your living room!
The colour and infrared camera box is a robust starter kit for watching and listening to wild birds on the nest during the day and at night. The nest box is made of solid FSC naturally durable timber with a pitched roof and camera clip secured in the roof. From dobies.co.uk & suttons.co.uk £119.99
For tips on making and placing a nest box visit rspb.org.uk